Mandolin – Asking the Impossible of Your Body (Musicians)(Psychology)(Pain)(Strain)(Injuries)(Posture)(Alexander Technique)(Albuquerque)

by ethankind on May 19, 2012

This ebook, An Alexander Technique Approach to Mandolin Technique, is published on this website in a PDF format. It is very detailed and practical, and it will give you the physical tools you need to take the limits off of your ability to create the accurate mandolin technique you want without sacrificing your body.
This ebook is also for sale on all AMAZON websites in a KINDLE format.
Located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S.A.

The goal of the Alexander Technique is to help the mandolin player create the most effortless and balanced mandolin technique and posture possible, so that the mandolin player doesn’t have to struggle to play the mandolin. This isn’t always easy, because many mandolin players bring misconceptions of what they are doing physically when they play. In other words, the mandolin player thinks they are doing one thing, when they are doing another thing.

What does this mean? The mandolin, as with most instruments, has a history of the rules of playing that has gotten passed from teacher to student etc., over generations of teachers and students. What is taught isn’t always an accurate representation of what is physically happening on the mandolin.

Here are a few of my corrected misconceptions of movement in the body. You can’t lock the knees, you lock the thigh muscles to lock the knees. When you rotate the forearm, turning the hands over up and down, it is the biceps that rotate the forearms. When you move your hand side to side in relationship to the forearm, it is from long muscles tied to the elbows. When you move your fingers, it is from the forearms – the flexors and the extensors. When you support bent forearms, it is the brachialis, not the biceps for the most part.

Two of the above are critical for the mandolin player. When the mandolin player is aware that he or she moves the pick from the biceps, this means that the mandolin player can create a conscious sense of ease and freedom in the hand and forearm as she or he moves the pick. In other words when you have a misconception of how the body does something, then that belief causes the body to move with tension, because of the conflict between the believed lie and what is really happening.

Another issue with mandolin players is that they are not aware there is no muscle in the forearms that supports the forearms. It is the brachialis (half biceps) that supports the forearms. Because so many mandolin players have experienced tension in their forearms for years, whether it is conscious or unconscious, they experience the forearms as holding up the forearms. This isn’t true, and it contributes greatly to forearm pain, tension, and injury.

Returning back to the first paragraph of this article, if you believe the body does one thing, and it actually does another, then the conflict between your misconceptions and what really happens will contribute to pain, strain, and injury. So, when a mandolin teacher tells a student something that is not true about how the body works, then it seems to really cause physical problems. Because the student is stacking statements from authority to back up misconceptions of what he or she is doing on the mandolin. This can really lead to strain and injury. It may take years, but many mandolin players get in trouble eventually over a career of teaching and/or performing.

It is an extraordinary feeling when you are made aware of what you are really doing on an instrument. Every time I was given accurate information from an Alexander Technique teacher on what balanced posture and accurate movement in my guitar technique were, my classical guitar playing always improved dramatically. It was truly as if I took off blinders, and could clearly see and experience how easy and free playing the guitar could be.

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