– All right, we’re beginning. (student chuckles) So welcome. My name is Rebecca Tuffey, and professionally, I teach
the Alexander Technique. Before I become an
Alexander Technique teacher, I was a performer just like you guys. In fact, I was a singer for many years, and I began acting when
I was in high school. And then I went to college, actually, for theater, for acting. And that was where I encountered
the Alexander Technique. So I was 19 years old when
I started doing this work. And I basically got into it because I had been given
the note many times, not so much as a singer,
but as an actress, that my characters had different
physical lives than I had. And (laughs) that I would
be more interesting to watch if I had a little more
physical changeability. And so my sophomore year in college, I called it my year of the body, and I studied modern dance, but I also started studying
the Alexander Technique. And I have to tell you that it
blew my mind pretty quickly. When my teacher put her hands
on me for the first time, I had never experienced
that sensation of lightness and freedom inside of myself. And as the year of study, because it was a year-long
class in my college, as the year of study progressed, I not only got to know that experience of lightness and freedom, but I also learned how
to sing and how to speak with that same sense
of lightness in myself. Over the years, because
it’s now been about 16 years that I’ve been a student, and
now a teacher of this work, I’ve actually found
the Alexander Technique to be really helpful
with almost everything that I do in my life. My physical life, like if I have to go and
pick up heavy things, or my kind of relationship life, the way that I am with my loved ones, and certainly with rehabilitating
injury and pain. So before I kind of ask you guys
a little bit about yourself, there was one other thing that
I thought was worth sharing, which I don’t usually
tell as part of my story as an Alexander teacher, but I was remembering that
when I was in high school, I was part of that State
Choral Festival circuit. Has anybody been a part
of something like that? – [Kathleen] I’ve heard
of it, but not in it. – Yeah, I grew up in Pennsylvania,
so we would have these, within our school, we would
learn a body of music, and then go off and audition to be a part of these
weekend-long festivals where regionally kids would get together, and a college level or a professional conductor would come in, and conduct the weekend
Festival of Choral Music. And I was really involved in this circuit. And it meant that I did a lot of singing. I spent sometimes three
hours a day singing, and then I would be in a
two-hour long play rehearsal. So I was really vocally working my cords. And at the end of my senior year, I actually was losing notes in my range where my voice would just disappear at certain breaks in my voice. And I actually didn’t know
enough to do anything about it. And I didn’t have teachers who knew enough to tell me to do something
about it until I went to college and I auditioned for my
voice department in college. And the members of the
faculty heard these notes missing in my range, and they said, “You need to go and see a doctor.” And it turned out that I
had swellings on my cords. I didn’t have nodes, for anybody who kinda knows what that is, but I did have swellings. And I was thinking about that, because that feels like
ancient history to me. As an Alexander teacher now, I speak eight to 10 hours a day. I just use my voice all the time, and I never suffer any kind of vocal, any vocal trauma or irritation. And I really credit it to this work. And I was a part of a cabaret last year. I don’t usually sing
professionally anymore. But I was in this cabaret, and one of my professors from
college came to hear me sing, and she give me a really nice compliment. She said, “Oh, your voice is so much purer “than it used to be.” But I haven’t done any
legitimate vocal training in the past 12 years. All I’ve done is Alexander Technique. So it was a really sweet compliment, but I thought you guys as
musicians might appreciate that, I’m gonna get in a minute
to what Alexander is, that this work is really kind of powerful and transformative in and of itself. So before I go on to what
Alexander Technique is, just a show of hands, how many of you, I’ve been talking about singing, how many of you are singers? Great, okay. How many of you are instrumentalists? All right, okay. So since there are just
a handful of you guys, what do you play? – [Student] Drum set. – Drum set, great. What do you play? – [Student] Piano. – Piano, terrific. And you play what? – [Student] Drums. – Drums as well, okay, great. – [Dorothy] Wow. – So Alexander Technique
is a process for examining and improving how you use yourself. You guys are all, because you’re in the
college music department, you are studying other processes, right? That help you to play
your instrument better, whether it’s the drum set,
the piano, or your voice. With Alexander Technique, we look at ourselves as
our first instrument. So with Alexander Technique,
you learn how to play yourself with the same degree of finesse that you learn how to
play your vocal mechanism or you learn how to play
your drum set or your piano. Alexander does not replace, I mean, my story is I wasn’t
studying any vocal technique, but my voice actually became clearer. But Alexander actually doesn’t replace your musical technique and your
study with your professors. It just compliments it, so that when you show up to a lesson, you’re actually more able to
do what’s being asked of you. So maybe you’re wondering, well, why? Why would learning how to play myself have me be a better singer or have me be a better instrumentalist? We all have unconscious habits. We all have these little holdings and stiffenings in ourselves that maybe sometimes we become aware of because they start to cause us tension, or we see a photograph and we see that we’re standing a funny way or we’re playing a funny
way in the photograph. But for the most part, these tensions and
stiffenings are unconscious because they’re just who we are. So with Alexander Technique, you learn how to actually become aware of these unconscious holding patterns, and then you learn how to change them. You learn how to do them differently. So let me just look at my notes,
and see where we go from here. All right, this technique is the work of somebody called Frederick
Matthias Alexander. He was an actor. And he lived in Australia
back in the 1880s and ’90s. He was a young actor in his mid 20s. And he was suffering of vocal problems. He was actually losing his voice. So this brings me back to we
have these unconscious patterns that we don’t know about, right? So turns out that he had some
unconscious tightening patterns that were creating this
hoarseness when he went to speak. But he didn’t know this at first. At first, all he knew was
that he was losing his voice. So how many of you have ever
after hours of practicing or after performing felt
any kind of pain or tension? Yeah. (laughs) Okay, yeah, almost everybody. And frequently, we just
think, oh, I work too hard, or I’m tired, or I’m having a bad day. But it was recurrent
enough for F.M. Alexander, for Frederick Matthias Alexander, that he was actually not
able to perform anymore. So his pain, or his
hoarseness in his case, reached the level where it
was actually keeping him from doing the thing that he loved. So he went to doctors and he said, “How can you help me? “Tell me what’s wrong.” And they looked at him, they examined him. They said, “Well, they’re
actually isn’t anything wrong. “You just have inflamed vocal cords.” And they prescribed rest. Same thing we do now, actually,
tea, honey, don’t talk. – [Dorothy] (chuckles) My. – Right. (laughs) – And he actually rested
up and regained his voice. And then he went into
his next big performance and he lost his voice halfway through. And so that kind of set
off a light bulb to him where he actually said, “Wow, if there’s nothing
wrong with my vocal mechanism, “but I’m losing my voice
while I’m performing, “maybe there’s something
about how I’m performing “that isn’t working for me.” So I like to kind of highlight this part of Alexander’s story, because we kind of hear right off the bat that he wasn’t waiting
around for somebody else to tell him what was wrong with him. He was thinking kind of
like a scientist in a way. He was thinking, hmm, here’s where I start out,
and then I do this activity, and here’s the result. So what happens then? What am I doing in that activity that causes the result of the hoarseness? So he actually went off, and he set up mirrors around himself. He put three mirrors so that
he would really be able to see what he was doing while he was speaking. And I have to tell you, he was very surprised by what he found. So that kind of brings me back to the idea that we all have things that we’re doing that we don’t know about. We have things that we’re doing that are actually unconscious. When I stand here and speak, the way I’m using myself
feels normal to me, because it’s normal,
because it’s how I speak. So we have to, when we’re
using Alexander Technique, we have to go outside of
just that normal brain space, and we have to start almost as if we’ve got three mirrors set up around us, begin bringing on a certain level of self-awareness or self-observation. So Alexander watched himself speaking, and he noticed that he was doing a couple of very bizarre things. One of the things he was doing
was he was tightening down. You guys hear the change in my voice right away when I, yeah. He was tightening down his
chin in toward his chest. He was also (gasps). Did you hear that when I went? When my chin was in this
position, did you hear suddenly? You could hear the gasping
in for the breath, right? He began to notice that when
his chin was down like this, (gasps) there was a big
audible gasping of air. And then he noticed that
on top of all of this, he was also, when he went to speak, throwing his head back like that. So maybe you see it changing
in me as I’m speaking that there’s a whole set of tensions that get brought on by those patterns. As he watched himself further, he began to notice that he was also arching his back when he went to speak. And I don’t know if you saw
my legs kind of lock up. As I arch my back, my legs get locked up. So the next kind of
place in his process was, okay, now I’ve noticed all
of these things about myself. Now let me try to change some of them. And he began just trying to
kind of change them, right? Instead of arching the
back, to put the back back. Instead of compressing down like this, to put his head up like that. And we’re gonna get to this in just a minute more experientially. But he recognized that he couldn’t just make a fast change in himself. He couldn’t actually just move his head. He actually had to go a little
more internal than that, so that he could really make a change. And what that meant was that he couldn’t just do it physically. He had to actually use his mind, and use his thinking to make a change in his whole coordination. So who wants to be the
first volunteer here? (student giggles) Yeah, okay, Kathleen, right? – Yeah.
– All right, come over. – [Lotti] Oh, I’m not doing this part. I’m not doing it. – Good. (student chuckles) So I wanna save the singing, and speaking, and instrument playing work
for a little bit later. So we’re gonna start. I’m pulling your hair back ’cause I’m about to put my
hand up here on your neck. (laughs) I wanna start with something that’s a little bit more pedestrian. So I’m gonna pull one
of these chairs over. – Okay.
– And we’re gonna work with bringing some
observation to this activity that you probably do a lot. So you’re gonna, yeah, go
ahead and sit down, great. All right. Hello, welcome. So let’s just see. I know this is a little unusual, ’cause you’ve got a big group
of people now watching you. (Rebecca and Kathleen laughing) So I’m gonna put my hand here,
mainly just as a friendly, like a friendly everything’s
okay kinda hand, right? – Okay. – And let’s stand up, and okay, good. And let’s sit back down again. Okay. So that’s just kind of
like for free, right? – Okay.
– Just to be comfortable standing and sitting
in front of the group. So the next time you’re gonna stand up, I want you to just see
if you notice anything like what I described from
Mr. Alexander noticing. If you notice any unnecessary tensions or any unnecessary stiffenings
in your body as you stand up. – I’m not sure, maybe my legs a little. – [Rebecca] Mm-hmm. Yeah, your legs feel a little bit like they might be
pushing or working hard? – I think so. – Okay, good. Go ahead and sit down. Same question. – I still, front of my legs. – Yeah, the front of
your legs, okay, good. So I agree with you. (Rebecca and Kathleen laughing) Let’s zoom in a little bit more onto your neck and your head. So that’s where my hand has been, right? – Mm-hmm.
– Now I bet that if I take my hand away, you probably don’t have much
awareness, right, of your neck. Yeah, not so much at all. So I’m putting my hand here, because that actually gives you, it’s like a mirror almost, where my hand is gonna
just call the attention of your nervous system to
this part of your body. All right, now go ahead and stand up, and I want you to notice
if there’s any movement between your neck and your head. Did you notice anything? – Not that time, I don’t think so. – Okay, all right. Let’s go ahead and sit down. – I guess there’s little
movement right here. – Uh-huh, yeah, okay. So what Alexander discovered
when he worked with himself was that there was a joint up here between his head and the rest of his body that he wasn’t using. There’s a joint between
the base of the skull and the top of the spine. There you go. And when he thought of
rebalancing his head up there on that joint, it actually completely
changed his movement. So let’s see what happens if we just kinda bring your
awareness into this joint. Okay, so let me give
you a little more chance to gain awareness of that. The top of of your spine is
up here in between your ears. – Okay. – So you can just see
that in your mind’s eye. We’ve all got this inner eye where we can pay attention to ourselves. – Mm-hmm. – You just see a spine projecting
itself through your body all the way up in between your shoulders, through your neck, and then
up here in between your ears. And then your head moves, there you go, very simply on the top of that spine. Yeah, what’s that like? – Light. – Light, ah. You guys see her changing? Can you see her quality changing? Yeah. All right, let’s go ahead and stand. Oh, oh, my word. (Kathleen laughs) And she floats up out
of the chair. (laughs) – [Dorothy] Oh, wow. (laughs) – Okay. So you’ve got something new
to pay attention to, right? – Mm-hmm.
– Okay. Now let’s see if that
changes how you’re able to pay attention to your activity, right? Let’s see if you notice something
different as you sit down. – Okay. – [Rebecca] Good, go ahead. – It felt like not the skull and the body, but like one thing. – Oh, it felt like all
of you was sitting down? – Yeah.
– Yeah, yeah, that’s true. Okay, now do more of your habit, because I wanna see if
you can actually recognize what you were doing between
your neck and your head before. Because those of us who
are watching probably saw that even though you couldn’t tell that you were moving
your neck and your head, you were, actually, in your habit. So let’s see if you can
get some words for that. Go ahead, Kathleen, stand up. Ah, yeah. – I lean back. – You are. Isn’t that brilliant. – Mm-hmm.
– So three minutes ago, she had no awareness of
being able to do that, of what she was doing. It felt normal to you. – Mm-hmm. – You actually said, I don’t think I’m moving
my neck and my head. – Mm-hmm. – And now, you just repeated
the exact same movement you did a few minutes ago, and now you’re really
aware that absolutely, I would call this you’re letting your neck kind of pull forward, and then your head is
falling back behind you as you stand up. Let’s do it again. Great. Thanks for being the first guinea pig. – (laughs) Okay. – Oh, hang on. (Kathleen giggles) (chuckles) So bring your awareness all the way back up into here, because this joint between your head and your neck is not just the way that we’re gonna gain more self-awareness, but it’s also the way that you’re gonna make real changes in your coordination. And that’s why you’re beginning to feel like you’re moving in one piece instead of being a bunch of
parts that are just moving. Okay, so let your neck free. That’s right. And then go ahead and sit down. Imagine that you’re just
tipping your nose a little bit. There we go, that’s it. And go ahead and sit down. There you go. Yeah, that’s about right. – I didn’t feel all the weight of my body.
– Ah, yeah, you didn’t feel all the weight, okay. Let’s go ahead and stand up. Okay, so pause. So I have to say pause to Kathleen, because like all of us,
her habits are strong. There’s a certain kind of forcefulness in how we do the things that we do. So if you don’t interrupt yourself, then you actually won’t be
able to do it differently. So I’m pausing you, right? I’m saying, slow down,
don’t rush it into standing. Slow down, have a different
thought here, and there you go. Beautiful. All right, shall we try this in walking? – Sure.
– All right, why not? (chair rattles) Okay, go for a little walk. Let’s see where you start off. – Not sure. (laughs)
– Yeah, there’s not too much space, that’s okay. Okay, what do you notice
as you’re walking. – I put my heel down first. – Mm-hmm, yeah, yeah. So guys, raise your hand if you ever think about how you stand and sit. Oh, wow, okay, good, good. Yeah, you guys are performers, right?
– Mm-hmm. – Performers think about a lot, right. – [Dorothy] Yeah. (laughs) – Yeah. Raise your hand if you ever
think about how you walk. Okay, all right. Good. I think actually that you
guys are ahead of the game, because a lot of the times, people don’t really think
about how they move. So it’s, it’s a new thing just to become aware of your body in motion. All right, so, so you’re noticing
something about your foot by putting your heel down first, okay. Let’s come all the way
back up in here again. Good, all right. Now go internal, yeah, there you go, and think, so that the change
comes from the inside out. Okay, and open up your eyes. Uh-huh, because when you
perform, you need to be having some kind of relationship
with your audience, and the audience doesn’t like
when you close your eyes. (Kathleen and Rebecca chuckling) And if you’re walking around campus, you can’t walk around
with your eyes closed. Your eyes have to be open. All right, so you can actually
think into that spine, there you go, with your
eyes open, yup, yup. Yeah, good, all righty. All right, let’s go for a walk. Ah, oh, my goodness. (Kathleen laughing) That’s great. That’s what a child would do. That’s very natural. She just went right up onto her toes. She had so much lightness in herself. She just went right on her toes. That’s brilliant. Okay, all right, come on. There you go. Oh, wow. Okay, now I saw, when
I arrived here today, that Professor Dahlke made
these really great flyers for this presentation. And the couple sentences in the flyers are about performance anxiety, right? Like being nervous when you perform? – [Student] Yeah, uh-huh. – If you walked into a
performance like that, do you think you’d be nervous? – Not so much. – Not so much, yeah, I don’t think so. – [Dorothy] Nah, not so much. – Yeah, not so much. Do your normal walk. (Kathleen laughs)
Yeah, you have to find it, right? Yeah, find it. – I don’t–
– Let me ask you. You’re being such a good sport. – Mm-hmm.
– But is there a slightly more self-conscious kind of
attitude in your normal walk. – [Kathleen] I think so. – Yeah, yeah. Doesn’t it just feel a
little bit more like– – [Kathleen] Defensive? – Yeah, or a little bit more worried about what might come next? All right, let’s go back
into this other walk. All right, now hang on. Let your neck be free, and
again, you’re gonna think way up all the way through this long spine. Your spine comes this
high up in your body. It goes up there between your ears. Beautiful. And then you’ve got that head that’s just elegantly
poising and balancing. There you go, all right. Let’s go for a walk. (Kathleen laughs) – Her body is tall. (laughs)
– Yeah, what’s that? Are you like the queen right now? (students laughing) – I feel like I’m gonna on
the balls of my feet more. – Well, you are coming up
onto your toes a little bit. So just let yourself, yeah, let yourself just walk through the space. – I’m putting my toes out, or my heels. Before I was doing like that. Now I’m doing this. – Well, you don’t have
to go down toe first. You could go down heel first. I think what you’re feeling is there’s so much more
lightness in this walk than in your normal walk. One more time. We’ll initiate it together. Okay, now hang on, hang on, hang on. So you can’t just, this is
the part of Alexander’s story where you can’t just try to
make the change in your body. You actually have to take a moment and kind of think through the change. There you go, yeah, yeah. Good. Yeah. You could go heel. Go ahead, go heel, yeah. Heel, ball. That’s it, heel, ball,
toe, heel, ball, toe. Heel, ball, toe, that’s it. Heel, ball, toe, yes, heel, ball, toe. Yes, yeah, yeah, now you’re
going heel, ball, toe. Yeah, all right, thanks, Kathleen. Okay, so guys, what did you see? What seemed to change with
Kathleen as we worked? What interested you about
watching those contrasts? – [Student] Consciousness. – Consciousness, yeah, yeah. – [Corrina] Like the weight. Before, she’s like, her body’s
just a bit like falling down. – Uh-huh.
– And now she’s pulling herself up, but it doesn’t look like
she’s doing an effort. – Mm-hmm.
– Yeah. – [Student] Effortless. – Effortless, yeah, yeah. As audience members, is it
appealing to watch somebody moving that way with that
kind of consciousness and effortlessness, and
just easy, easy poise? – Yes.
– Yeah. Yeah, okay. So let’s all find this in ourselves. Here’s a little model skeleton. He’s cute, right? – [Student] What’s his name? (students laughing) – I never name my skeletons. I have friends who do, but– (laughs) – [Corrina] Let’s call him Jack. – We could call him Jack. He’ll be Jack for today. – [Student] Skellington. (Rebecca laughs) So here’s the reason why we have to start up in here with this top joint. So your head weighs
between 10 and 15 pounds. Your head is sizable and it’s heavy. If your neck is reaching forward, like remember when we
saw Kathleen’s habit, and she kind of let her neck pull forward and her head fell back? If your head is going forward, or excuse me, if your neck
is going forward like that, then the 15 pounds of your head is falling down into your body. It creates a compression. It creates, I like to
call it a downward push, or sometimes I call it a downward pull. But it creates a down,
a downward compression into the rest of your body. Now what’s inside the body? – Organs.
– Stuff. – Organs, stuff, important stuff, right? – [Student] Mm-hmm. – Do you think all that
important stuff in there likes all of this downward pressure? – No.
– No. – No. (chuckles) No. So if you’re a pianist, which we’ve only got one of right now, but if you’re a pianist, and you’re sitting at your piano maybe with your neck forward
and your head back like that, and all of this, or you’re
sitting at your drums, ’cause I know you guys do
it, too, (laughs) right? Or if you’re sitting at
your drums like this, do you think you can breathe? Well? I’m sorry. Obviously, you’re breathing
’cause you’re alive, right? Thank you. (laughs) But do you think your breathing
is effortless or efficient? – [Student] Mm-mm. – Not really. Your breathing is gonna be compromised, because your lungs are being compromised, because there’s all of
this downward pressure. So the way, the way to make
these changes happen is a kind of head leading, to let the head lead the change. So if this is like a snapshot
of where we are in a moment, of going to sing, or going to
play, or going to stand up, then what we need to
do is we need to think, first of all, of letting go. So you gotta let go of
whatever you’re holding on to. It could just be physically. You could just say, okay, let me let go. Let me let go of that
squeeze in my shoulders. Or let me let go of that
little tightening of my neck. Or let me let go of
that setting of my jaw. Let me let go of something so that my body can follow my head. My head is gonna spring this way. My head’s gonna spring,
we call it forward and up. My head’s gonna spring forward and up, and the rest of my body
is gonna decompress as it follows the release of my head all right, who wants to work next? All right, come on Dorothy. (Dorothy laughs) All right. She’s nervous, but she’s taking a chance. Okay.
– Ah, yes. – Are my hands a little cold. – No. – No, they’re comfortable? – Yup.
– Good. All righty, so do a little less tightening, right? So you tell me where in
your body do you feel like there’s a little bit
of tension that you might be able to release.
– In my neck. – In your neck, great, okay. So let my hands kind of
help, yeah, there you go, so you just give up that
little bit of tension. And then you’re gonna imagine
your skeleton inside of you. (Dorothy chuckles)
Yeah, there you go. You’re gonna imagine that your head, just what I showed with the skeleton, that your head kind of wee, your head comes just a little
bit forward and up, okay. So don’t try to put it. Just let it, there you
go, just let it spring. And then you’re gonna imagine
that your spine, right, your spine which makes up
the middle of your body, your spine follows your head. Your spine literally, there you go, your spine just kind of grows longer, and longer, and releases, and flows. That’s lovely. All right, let’s go for
a little walk together. Okay, come back. Good, how you doin? – Good.
– You okay being in front of the group?
– Yep. – All right, turn this way. (Dorothy giggles)
Okay. So what I saw, Dorothy
did a really good job thinking along with me. But then it was when she
started her activity, so we’re starting right now with sitting, and standing, and walking, because it’s just a little
more neutral, right? We don’t have as many
feelings about walking as we do about making our music. We’re getting to that. We’re gonna do some singing and some playing in a few minutes. So what I saw is that Dorothy
was doing such a good job letting some of that
tension soften in her neck, letting her head go, just
what I was describing, letting her head kinda let up,
letting her spine decompress. And then when you went to take your walk, you drew yourself down into your walk. (Dorothy laughs) So that’s a really important moment. It’s the moment when we start. It’s the moment when you put your hands in preparation at the piano. Or it’s the moment when
you receive that in breath that you’re gonna sing on. So in those moments, Alexander
called it a critical moment. (Dorothy and Rebecca chuckling) It’s a moment when you wanna
really just stay with yourself. And instead of going
down into your movement, you think about letting
up into your movement. Does that make sense? – Yep.
– Okay, good. All righty, so go ahead, give up just a little bit of tension. So I love, I love being able to leave
behind the nervous anxiety of my mind and just go into my body. It just seems like, there,
that’s beautiful, Dorothy, yeah. It just seems like all of
that stuff that we worry about like is the audience gonna like me, am I gonna be able to do the hard passage, that’s just mental chatter. But I can really leave
that behind by going, okay, let me free my neck. (Dorothy and Rebecca chuckling) And let me invite my head to release so that it doesn’t push down into my body, that’s it, but it lets up. And I just let my head
lead me into a little walk. That’s it. So you go, that’s it,
hey, that was better. Good for you. Yeah, that was a much lighter beginning. (Dorothy laughs)
Uh-huh. What do you notice, Dorothy? – That I’m doing better than before. – Yeah, you’re lighter
than before, aren’t you? – Yeah. – Here, turn one more time this way, ’cause we don’t have, we’ve only got this little passage, so. Okay, and your neck is free. There you go, and your head’s letting up. Now I’m gonna put my hands right here, because this is the
bottom part of your spine all the way down in here. So we wanna keep inviting
your spine to let up instead of going down over there, right? It’s like when you’re
playing a passage of music, you don’t wanna let your
mind get ahead of you. You don’t wanna go to the hard part. You wanna stay with where you’re at. So it’s the same way right now. I want you to stay where you are.
– I got a question. – Yeah, good, what’s your question?
– When can I go to the bathroom? – When can you go to the bathroom? As soon as you and I finish working, okay? – Uh-huh.
– All right, so your head’s letting up,
your spine’s going up, and you’re gonna go for a walk. Yes, just like that. You guys see that? (chuckles) Good. Good. Now don’t think about any of this, okay? – Yeah.
– And just show us your walk again. Good, okay, come on back. And now let’s think about it, okay? Yeah, let’s use some Alexander Technique. So you give up a little tension, right? – Yeah.
– Yeah, you give away a little tension. And you imagine that your
head is poising way up there on the top of your spine.
(Dorothy laughs) And you imagine that
your spine is letting up, it’s decompressing even
all the way down here, and you go for a walk. Yeah. (Dorothy’s fingers snapping) (Rebecca laughs) Show-off. (Dorothy laughs)
You weren’t nervous at all. Okay, great, thank you. (Dorothy laughs) Okay, would you like to come? – Yes.
– All right. – [Dorothy] Where’s the bathroom? Are we allowed to go bathroom? – You are allowed to go to the bathroom. I went and used the one
on the second floor. Does anybody know where
the women’s room is? – On the other side.
– I can show her. – Okay, all right,
Kathleen’s gonna show you. All right, what’s your name. – [Albert] Albert. – Albert, nice to meet you, Albert. – [Dorothy] We’ll be right back. – Are you willing to make
a little bit of sound. – Yes. (chuckles)
– Yes, he is. – Nervous, though. – Do you sing? – Yes.
– Yes? What kind of singing do you do? – In chorus. – In the chorus, great. And are you tenor, or a baritone? – I’m a tenor.
– You’re a tenor, great, okay. All right, I’m not gonna ask
you to sing a whole song. Come on, come on, closer.
– Nervous. (Rebecca and students laughing) – He’s running away. – Yes, you make me nervous. Don’t want to sing in public. – Yeah, you know what? We’re not gonna sing a song. We’re just gonna make some sounds. And if you’re uncomfortable,
then we won’t do it. – It’s okay. – Yeah, but I think you’re game. Okay, so you can face the group. And you could, actually, if you don’t wanna look at the group, you see there’s a white
box back there on the wall? You can always look at that box. – Okay. – Okay, good. So is this how you would be standing if you were singing in your chorus? – Yeah.
– Yeah, okay, good. All right, so what do you know, what do you recognize about how you use your body to stand when you’re singing in chorus? What do you think about? – Nothing.
– Nothing, okay. – Just the musics. (chuckles) – You think about the music. Oh, guys, okay, so that’s why I said with Alexander Technique,
we think about ourselves as the first instrument
that we play, right? – Mm-hmm.
– Because that was such an honest answer, Albert, that when you’re in chorus,
you think about the music. But you’re what makes the music, right? – Yeah.
– Yeah, the music’s gotta come through you. So if you wanna sing the music well, then it’s like you have to
kind of play yourself well. – Okay.
– Yeah. So… So when we’re standing,
it’s like a balancing act. – Okay. – It’s a balance of the head, right? We’ve got this kind of
round skull up in here. – Mm-hmm. – A balance of my head on my torso. – Mm-hmm.
– You know what a torso is? – Yeah. – What? – Like that. – Yeah, oh, oh. You guys see this? I’m making torso. Albert made torso. – Let me go like that. (Rebecca laughs) Stomach. – Okay, let’s see what
everybody else does. – Okay. – So close your eyes, so you don’t feel self-conscious
about your neighbors, and either with a circle, draw your own version of your torso, or–
– I’m back. – You could just do it with lines. You could put your top hand where you think the top of your torso is, and your bottom hand where you think the bottom of your torso is. Oh, good. Good. Good. Okay. Are you guys willing to show each other? – Sure.
– Nah. – Your thoughts? Okay, so if you’re willing to share what you just drew as your torso, stand up and put your
hands in that position. (Dorothy giggles) Good. And look, oh, they’re changing a little bit.
(Dorothy laughs) (laughs) That’s great. – [Kathleen] They were
squished while we sat. – (laughs) Oh, that’s so interesting. Do you think your torso is
smaller when you’re sitting? (Dorothy laughs)
– Well, it’s hard to put your hands in the area when you sit. – Okay, all right, that’s a fair answer. Yeah, that’s a fair answer. So just look around and
see that there is actually, there is some, there’s a little bit of difference
in what people are doing. Some people are slightly higher. Although, it looks like most of you guys have a pretty good sense that your torso, and you can sit down, your torso goes from the
bottom of your pelvis– – [Dorothy] What is a torso? – Torso is this middle part of your body– – [Dorothy] Oh. – Where all of your vital organs are. – [Dorothy] Okay. – So your torso goes
from your pelvic floor, so way down here. So a lot of you guys were
right about there, right? More like your pubic bone. So it goes from your pelvic floor way up to the roof of your mouth. Ee. (laughs) And again, you guys were pretty good, because you were this far down, and many of you were up here
around your chin or your jaw. But I’m gonna put him in profile, and just show you that
the spine goes up higher than the jaw does, or than
the chin, to be precise. Your spine actually comes up
to the level of your ears. And if you run your tongue
along the roof of your mouth, you’re touching the base of your skull. The roof of your mouth is
the bottom of your skull. (chuckles) Which means that, you can’t put your tongue
all the way into the back, but if you could run your
tongue all the way back there, behind the throat, behind that
(Dorothy giggles) back wall of the throat, that’s where the base of your
skull rests on your spine. So it’s really long, right? The torso. From way up in here to
all the way down here. And since I’m holding the skeleton, let me just also say, the balancing act of
your head upon your torso takes place here at this place that we worked on with
Kathleen and Dorothy. The balancing act of your torso takes place down here on your hip joints. So notice that your hip joints are these sockets here in the pelvis. These guys, everybody,
if you need to stand up, stand up and feel this. These are not your hip joints. These are hip crests. On the skeleton, it’s these bits, these points here at the
front of the pelvic bone. The hip joint is down in here, where if I march, there’s a crease there. And that’s where your torso
balances on your legs. So I’m gonna put my hand way down there. I’m gonna actually put both
of my hands down there, and say your torso is
balancing on your legs. – Oh.
– Okay. – Yeah, your torso is
balancing on your legs. So let your neck, let your neck free. So you find a little bit
of stiffening in your neck, and you think, okay, I’ll let that go. And then you imagine that
your head is floating all the way up there in between your ears. Don’t go on your toes. You don’t need to go onto your toes. (students laughing) That was fun when she did it. It was so natural when she did it. It’s what children do, it really is. They’re so light in themselves, they just go wee, wee,
wee, right up and down. But you don’t need to do that. And then you’re gonna imagine
right in through here. You feel where I am in your back, Albert? – Yeah. – That your spine is
releasing this way, right? It’s decompressing. It’s just going all the way up like that. There you go. So that your torso balances on your legs. Okay, are you standing the
same right now or different? – I think slightly different. – It is slightly different, yeah. What do you notice is different? – Because I began, just I stand here, and don’t think about anything. – Ah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, and now you’re really
thinking, aren’t you? – Yeah.
– Yeah, okay. Now go back to the way you’d
normally sing in chorus. Go back to your normal kinda standing. Yeah.
(Dorothy laughs) – Safe.
– Yeah, good, okay. So you’re just gonna sing a note. ♪ Ooh, ooh, ooh ♪ ♪ Ooh, ooh, ooh ♪ ♪ Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh ♪ – Good, can you hold the sound. ♪ Ooh ♪ – Sustain it. Okay, good. ♪ Ooh, ooh ♪ – Good, okay. ♪ Ooh ♪ Should’ve done a warmup exercise. (laughs) – Yeah, that’s okay. It’s enough to just hold one note. ♪ Ooh ♪ – Okay. Okay, good, all right. Now let’s, let’s see what happens if
we think a little bit more of I’ve got my hand right behind this part of Albert’s chest. I’ve got my hand right behind here. So this part of your spine, you’re just gonna think
of it decompressing, or flowing upwards, right? So that your head is leading this whole decompression of your body, so that your spine keeps
letting up this way. Now don’t go on your toes, okay? Because you’ve got hip joints, which means that when your spine changes its length right now, your body is actually movable. That’s right, don’t go on your toes. Your body is movable right
in there in those hip joints. Good, now relax your shoulders,
and sing your note again. ♪ Ooh ♪ ♪ Ooh ♪ – Good, okay. Is that a different experience? – Yes. – Yes, how is that different? – The note’s a little bit
lighter, or something. – Your body is lighter
or the note is lighter? – Note. – The note is lighter. Hey, guys, would you be willing to try to describe the change in
the sound of Albert’s note? Yeah, Kathleen? – [Kathleen] I could hear it better. Before, it sort of sounded choked off. – Mm-hmm. – [Kathleen] Now I make
out what they’re singing. – Yeah. Anybody else wanna– – [Student] It kinda got brighter. – It got brighter, yeah. I love describing the changes in sound, because it’s very subjective. ‘Cause we’re all gonna hear
something slightly different, and I just think that that’s
fun to notice for yourself what your attention is drawn to. Okay, do you wanna sing, do you do a warmup in chorus? Do you do an arpeggio or something? ♪ Ba ba ba ba ♪ Something like that?
– Yeah. ♪ Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh ♪ – Okay, good. Keep doing your warmup.
♪ Ooh, ooh, ooh, ♪ ♪ Ooh, ooh ♪
– That’s it. And while you’re doing the warmup– ♪ Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh ♪ – See if you can think into your body. ♪ Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh ♪ – Good. ♪ Ooh, ooh, ooh ♪ ♪ Ooh ♪ ♪ Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh ♪ ♪ Ooh ♪ – And now just sustain your note. ♪ Ooh ♪ ♪ Ooh ♪ ♪ Ooh ♪ ♪ Ooh, ooh ♪ ♪ Ooh ♪ – All right, good, good. What’s that like? – It’s really different. – Mm-hmm. Can you put your finger on
what’s different about it? – No. – No, okay, good. Thank you for being our
first person to sing. (students and Rebecca applauding) Okay, who has a song? Yeah?
– Me. – All right, come. All right, let me do a little time check, and see how we’re doing. Okay, good. All right, what would you like to sing? – A small jazz song. – Okay, terrific, sounds good. Can we hear you sing first? – Mm-hmm.
– Is that fair? – Yeah.
– All right, so you just sing, maybe
do the first verse. Do just the beginning of it, okay? – Mm-hmm.
– All right, I’m gonna move over here. – I just start? – [Rebecca] Just start. ♪ Grab your coat and get your hat ♪ ♪ Leave your worries of the doorstep ♪ ♪ Just direct your feet ♪ ♪ To the sunny of the street ♪ – [Rebecca] Great, okay. (students applauding)
Yay. Sounds great, great starting place, right? So we’re just gonna play and see what else we could make of it. – Mm-hmm. – [Rebecca] So in terms of what we’ve been talking about today, what do you notice as you’re singing? – Well, I think I’m a mess. I tend to put my shoulders like
this where I curve my back. My knees go a lot back,
so that doesn’t help. So I feel like my pelvis
is a bit to the front. – Uh-huh, yeah. – And yeah, when I sing,
I tend to lift my head, and I don’t think that’s
really good, either. – Yeah, okay. So to the outer eye, guys, did
she look like she was a mess? – Not a mess.
– No. – [Student] Yes. – We wouldn’t say a mess. (laughs) Which is just worth hearing,
because it’s so tricky, our own sense of what we’re really doing. That’s why, as performers, it helps to have these
kind of video cameras. It helps to have teachers
and colleagues who you trust. It helps to work in front of a mirror, so that you can really see what
you’re doing with yourself. Okay. All righty, so we’re gonna begin by having
you see your skeleton inside of yourself. Yeah, and when you’re standing. – Mm-hmm. – Standing is a balancing act. It’s not the kind of thing
that you need to (growls), right, like grip into. We think about getting
ready for something. – Mm-hmm. – And there’s some
language in track and field of on your marks, get set, right? It’s like the get ready part is get set. As a performer, as a singer, you don’t ever wanna
think about getting set. Getting set is gonna pull all
of your muscles into tension, and inside of yourself,
you’re gonna compress. And it might look small
and subtle to the audience, but if you’re set inside of yourself, then those delicate changes
that we wanna have happen with the diaphragm, do you
know what a diaphragm is? – Mm-hmm.
– Yeah, with your diaphragm, and with the air moving
over your vocal folds, that can’t happen if you’re set. – Mm-hmm. – So you’re not getting set. You’re balancing. And you’re balancing between your head– – Mm-hmm.
– And your feet. There you go.
– Uh-huh. – So you’re gonna extend your attention all the way down there to your feet. And as we’re standing here, you’re saying, I don’t need to get set, and I can imagine is just up there poising and balancing on my spine. You have the base of
the skull way up there between the ears resting
on the spinal column. And then all the way
down here, your torso, so the bottom of your pelvis. – Mm-hmm. – Just kind of balancing,
there you go, on your legs. Feel that little shift? – Mm.
– Does it feel little to you or does it feel big? – It feels big. (laughs)
– It feels big. Guys, does it look little
or does it look big? – Can’t see.
– Looks little, yeah. Yeah, you can’t see it. (Rebecca and students laughing) It’s okay. But you heard that that
feels big inside of her. Yeah, but your audience can barely see it. – Okay.
– Okay. So I’m gonna stay here. You’re gonna begin your song again. And I wanna invite you
not to get set, okay? So it might, who knows, maybe your voice will crack a little. It’s a different place to sing from. – Yeah.
– So give it a shot. ♪ Grab your coat and get your hat ♪ ♪ Leave your worries on the doorstep ♪ – Okay, good. I’m gonna stop you for a minute. Beautiful. Go to the leave, right, that bit. – Mm-hmm. – Right there when you sang leave, there was a little bit of getting set. So you’re gonna, there you go, you’re gonna let your head go up there and balance on the top of your spine. – Mm-hmm. – And again, right in here,
these guys, that’s it. (Corrina laughs)
Gonna be balancing on the tops of your legs. And if you start to lose your
balance, you’ve got your feet. – Yeah, yeah.
– That’s why you’ve got feet, right? – Yeah, yeah. (laughs)
– To balance on. You’ve got heels, balls, the metatarsals of the
foot in the middle, right? The toes up there at the front. All righty, so go ahead again. – From the beginning or from leave? – Just from leave. ♪ Leave your worries on the doorstep ♪ ♪ Just direct your feet ♪ ♪ To the sunny side of the street ♪ – Great. Was that different? – Yes, it’s just that I
feel very wobbly. (laughs) – Oh, okay. Yeah. – It’s a very different sensation.
– Yeah, yeah. ‘Cause–
– But it– – Oh, I’m sorry, go ahead.
– But it feels more, more settled. I say I feel a mess, because I feel like my bases
is not (fist thudding). I feel like I’m a bit like this all the time when I’m singing. – Yeah. – And this feels different in the sense that I feel I’m more
connected to the floor. – Yeah, yeah. – But at the same time,
as I’m not used to it, I feel like I’m falling
backwards. (laughs) – Yeah. – It’s the– – Yeah.
– Sensation, I think. – Yeah, we’re gonna do
it one more time, okay? – Mm-hmm. – You were less wobbly this time than you were the first time. Yes, agree, audience? – Yeah.
– Agree. – Yes.
– Yeah. Yeah, the first time, you
actually just did it really well. The first time, there’s a lot of, you’re not grounding
through your pelvic floor. Sometimes they refer to the pelvic floor as a second diaphragm. – Mm-hmm.
– You know? This movement between the pelvic floor and the actually
diaphragm is kind of like, oh, gosh, how do I wanna say it? That’s your foundation. – Mm. – That’s your foundation. It’s not what you’re gonna stand on. You’re gonna stand on your feet, right?
– Uh-huh. – But it’s your foundation for your sound. And so if you don’t have that, then your sound doesn’t have a foundation. And then you’re like,
you are kinda wobbly, because you’re looking
for your foundation. But this, actually, you just are gonna learn to trust it. (Rebecca laughs)
– Yeah. – Because it’s so new to you. It’s not familiar yet. But those feet are
really built to be like, adapting, adapting to weight
and adapting to change. And when performers have their feet, they can go anywhere with
the audience, you know? Because then you’ve got your roots. Okay, let’s try it again. Take a little walk. Go for just a little walk. – Mm-hmm.
– Good. As you’re walking, do me a
favor, and think in yourself. So continue taking a walk here. Yeah, so we teach Alexander
in everyday activities. For performers, you make music as part of your everyday activity. But you’re not making music 24/7. You are doing things
like brushing your teeth, washing your face, going
for a walk around campus. – We’re standing.
– You’re doing those things all the time. So that’s a good practice time to think about how you’re using
your body in those moments. So then when you come
back to actually stand and do the thing that you
love, to be in your singing, you’re already kinda warmed up
to where you are in yourself. Okay, take another little walk. We’ll walk together. Okay, good. As you’re walking,
you’re gonna be thinking. It’s a small space. I’m sorry, there’s not a
lot of walking space here. There you go. As you’re walking, you’re
gonna be thinking about that, your hip joints, the place where your
legs, yes, that’s right, are kinda rolling in your hip sockets. You might think that your
pelvis is like a boat. Your pelvis is kind of afloat, right? Just buoyed, buoyed or balancing
on the tops of your legs. Okay. And this time, as we turn the corner, we’ll come back to be here
for a little more singing. That’s right. As you come to stand,
you’re not gonna set, right? No setting. – Okay. – No get set to sing. All righty. Okay, and when you’re ready, begin. ♪ Grab your coat and get your hat ♪ ♪ Leave your worries on the doorstep ♪ ♪ Just direct your feet ♪ ♪ To the sunny side of the street ♪ – Good, keep going. ♪ Did you hear that pitter-pat ♪ ♪ Make that nice into your own step ♪ ♪ Life can be so sweet ♪ ♪ On the sunny side of the street ♪ ♪ I used to walk on a shade ♪ ♪ With this blues on parade ♪ ♪ Now I’m not afraid ♪ ♪ This Rover crossed over ♪ ♪ If I ever had a cent ♪ ♪ Feel as rich as Rockefeller ♪ I got chills. (all laughing) – Yup, they come, they come. ♪ Star dust on my feet ♪ ♪ On the sunny side of the street ♪ ♪ On the shady side of the street ♪ ♪ On the sunny ♪ ♪ Side of the street ♪ – Good, good, good.
– It’s so strange. (student chuckles)
– What? All right, yeah. (students and Rebecca applauding) – I don’t know if I’m doing it, but I got the impression
I’m falling to the ground. – Oh.
– Don’t know if that’s what you see. – Did anybody see her falling forward? – [Josephine] No, it’s
that she’s balanced out. – Yeah, yeah. – I guess it’s ’cause the
contrast to my– (laughs) – That’s right. – This all the time, right? – Yeah. – So when I’m standing straight, actually I got the feeling
I’m falling to the floor. – That is very well said.
– Okay. – That’s very well said. And actually, F.M. Alexander, the guy who does this work that I teach, he had, I think, a very funny,
old-fashioned word for that. He called it debauched kinesthesia. (student laughs) So kinesthesia is your feeling sense. It’s how your body feels to you. And debauched means that
it’s all off-base. (laughs) Debauched, it’s like not really
grounded in what’s going on. – Mm-hmm.
– Yeah. – Right on.
– All right, thank you. – Thank you. (giggles) – Yes? – [Student] I did notice one. Even at the end how, unconscious
movement that she has, that you have when you’re
singing is I noticed your– – Eyebrow.
– Oh, yeah, yeah. – [Student] Eyebrow is isolated. It keeps coming up and down. – Yeah. (laughs) That’s a tension I put in my face. – Yeah. – Yeah, I hope. But I’m not conscious that I do it. It’s every time I go up a note. – Upbeat, yeah.
– I had a teacher, he called it the vulgar (laughs) eyebrow. – Oh, that’s very funny. (door rattles) Well, something like that, actually, you might find that you can change once your body is a little
bit more quiet in itself. It’s like if the house is on fire, can you do nuanced things? Are you singing, I don’t
know, Mozart? (laughs) Are you singing Mozart
when the house is on fire? No, when the house is
on fire, you’re like, the house is on fire. – [Student] You lit it on fire, then run. – You’re just trying to
deal with the emergency. It’s a little bit like that
in our nervous systems when, I’m sorry, what was your name? – [Corrina] Corrina. – Corrina. When Corrina says that she
feels like she’s a mess and she’s having a hard time finding her ground.
(student sneezes) – Bless you.
– Her nervous system is busy dealing with that. So this little thing
that her voice teacher keeps talkin’ about where
her eyebrow goes up, (laughs) in a sense, her nervous system is like, that’s Mozart, and the
house is on fire right now. So interesting, and I would
love to hear back from you, a few months to see if
you’re able to tackle that. Can we get one of the instrumentalists? One of the drummers or the piano player? – [Student] I’ll go. – Yeah? – [Student] If he lends me his drum. – Is that okay? – [Student] Definitely. – Would you like to play at the end? – [Student] My know what is still off. – Okay, all right, that’s fine. Do you wanna do something else? Do you want some hands-on at some point? – [Student] No, I’m fine,
I’ll just take notes. – Okay, all right. – [Student] Did we turn back to? – Yeah, we will. We will come back to the singers. – [Corrina] I took up plenty of. (laughs) – I just wanna mix it up. Do you play piano? – [Josephine] Yeah, I do. You wanna do that while
they’re setting up the drum? – [Josephine] Sure. – Yeah, come on. – I just realized I just
made a fool of myself. – [Student] Please, go ahead. – What’s your name? – [Josephine] Josephine. – Josephine. Okay, so do you have a song that you could play, or do you wanna work with
scales or something like that? – I can play the start of a melody. – Great, great. (lighthearted piano music) – Ah. (giggles) – That’s okay. – Yeah. – We’re just kinda seeing
where you start off. (lighthearted piano music) – Why am I messing up that? – Well, because this is
an unusual situation, and that’s fair. Can I put hands on you while you do it?
– Sure. – Okay, so you just keep playing. And actually, let me say one thing first. I’m just trying to think
of how I wanna say it. Albert said that when he’s singing, he’s busy thinking about the music, right? He’s not thinking about how he’s standing. So my hands right here,
Josephine, are just reminding you that you have a back behind those hands. (Dorothy chuckles) So your fingers are not
responsible for making the music. Your fingers are just the very tip. It’s like the tip of the iceberg. Your fingers are just
the very tip of your body which is making the music, right? So I’m back here in your back. (chuckles) Yeah. Your arms come out of your back, and your fingers are
attached to your arms. All right, go ahead. (lighthearted piano music) – Nuts. (chuckles) – Mm-hmm, it’s okay. – I’m being very conscious
of people looking. – That’s okay. (lighthearted piano music) Good, good, good, good. Hey, listen, you’re okay. And let me ask you, do you wanna continue
to work with the melody? Or would you like to just do scales? It is totally your choice. – I don’t know, actually. – [Rebecca] Should we
keep working at this one? – Yeah. – And you just do that one,
it’s like a phrase, right? Just do the phrase, that’s it. Because it’s not a test to see
who got the music memorized or anything like that. Okay, so I said your back
is behind your hands, right? But even beyond your back (laughs) you’ve got this head up here. So take a moment, just take
your hands off the piano, and yeah, just have this
sense of your own balance of being in a balancing act in yourself, where your head is just
kind of light and poised. Mm-hmm. So you’re gonna think,
I really do, I love it. It’s like all of that
kinda mental conversation that we can get into with ourselves about how we want things to go, and how it gets messed
up, and the whole thing, you just can’t think that if
you remember to free your neck. (laughs) If you go to your neck, then that chatter just
kind of quiets down. And if it comes right back
again, then you just say again, okay, now let me free
my neck one more time. Yeah, and as you free your neck, we’ve got this little
movability up in here of your head on your spine. And I’m just gonna say your spine is the, it’s like the
organizer for your back. Your spine is the central axis, like in a circus tent how
there’s that big central pole. Your spine is like that big
central organizer for this back. And when you’re seated, your
sit bones are like little feet. They’re like feet for your back. You guys can all think that, by the way, as you’re sitting down. Yeah, there you go. So you just happened to be
seated in front of a piano, (laughs) right? It’s like you could be seated over there on one of those blue benches. You could be seated on the bus. You happen to be seated on a piano bench. And you’re thinking about
how you use yourself, or how you play this instrument of you. So what if you bring your hands, just let your hands kind of
float out onto the keyboard. Good, and now bring your hands back. So when your hands float
out in front of you, see if you can maintain this lovely poise, this really delicate balance
and poise of your head. Go ahead, float your hands out. Yeah, there you go, good. And bring your hands back. Okay. So now, you’re making yourself more important than the piano. That might strike some of you as selfish, maybe you think, oh, it
shouldn’t be all about me, it should be about the music, or it should be about
entertaining my audience. But I promise you, if
it’s not about yourself, then you’re gonna let your audience down, and you’re gonna let the music down. Because yourself is what plays the music. Yeah, there you go. So I’m saying there you go, because this is seeming delicate to me. What about you? – It feels lighter. I have tension on my shoulders right now. – Uh-huh, yeah, yeah. So remind your shoulders
that they can relax. (Josephine laughs)
There you go. Okay, good, (laughs) good. Good. And then one more time, you’re gonna float your hands
out here to the keyboard. All righty. So the way that pianists
get set, (chuckles) singers get set, they kind of set down into their legs really frequently. Pianists, where do you
think you set down into? – Actually, I lean forward. My whole body goes forward. – Yeah, that’s right. Your body gets set down into your arms. You go forward, you go down, right? That’s what you just said to me. You said, oh, I bring my hands out, and I go forward with them. Yeah. So instead of getting set out there with your body into your arms, you’re gonna leave your back behind you. Yeah, you’re gonna leave
your body back there, and you’re just gonna float
those arms out in front. So it’s not about lowering
your body onto the keyboard. You’re just reaching the arms out, right? All right, beautiful. Give us a play. – Same song? – Whatever you want. Really your choice. Okay, now hang on. Don’t set down. Yeah, don’t lower yourself
down into that keyboard. All right, then go ahead. (calming piano music) That’s beautiful, Josephine. Yeah, what’s that like? What’s that like to think about
just floating the arms out instead of going forward with them? – My body feels light, and
my arms are stretching out. – Oh, wow, yeah. – It feels good. – Would you be willing
to give us a contrast? Would you be willing to play that same bit of music you just played? But this time, let your arms, let your body go forward with your arms. (calming piano music) Okay, good, thank you. And now, we’re gonna just do the contrast. And let your neck be free. Yeah, there you go. Remember that those shoulders
can relax, ’cause it’s not, they don’t have the weight of
your body to deal with, right? Your body is resting on your sit bones. And you’re gonna extend your arms out, but your body’s not gonna
lower down into them this time. Go ahead. (calming piano music) Good, thank you. Thank you. Did that sound different to you? – Yeah. – How did it sound
different to this performer? How did it sound different to you? – Well, for me, it sounded like
I was controlling the music. Also, I was feeling
lightheaded when we’re done. (Rebecca and Josephine laughing) Yeah. Yeah, it doesn’t feel as
heavy and tense as before. – Yeah. Yeah, that was beautiful. Can we ask if anybody else
heard a change in the sound? – Sure. – Raise your hand if you heard a change. Yeah, what did you hear? – [Lotti] I don’t know if you, I think it was a different song, but it’s as if the whole weight
was pressing on the music. – Yeah. – [Lotti] For every note,
her whole weight was, but as she relaxed and she
sat on her back, everything, it was her fingers that
were touching the keys, and nothing else. – Yeah, yeah. Yeah, go ahead, Kathleen. – [Kathleen] I felt when
you were sitting back more, it flowed more. Before it was a bit
hesitant, or disjointed. I think that’s how I used to say. But it seemed like it came more naturally when you just leaned back. – Yeah, so we’re hearing
real acoustic differences, and we’re also hearing kind of qualitative musical differences as well. And it’s subjective, guys. Hearing is always subjective. It’s just fun. I just think it’s fun to talk about it. Mm-hmm. – [Corrina] At the beginning, I thought ’cause she was nervous, she was struggling with it. And then the first time
she was sitting back, it was just flowing. Even the line of fluidity,
it’s just flowing. – Yeah. – [Corrina] And then
again when she goes back, it’s like you struggle with the notes. It’s amazing if I can change
so much with just a little bit. And my impression was
when she first sit down, I think like, wow, she sits very straight. (Corrina laughs)
– Yeah. – [Corrina] I was like, wow. Even from my point of view, she was very straight.
– Right. – [Corrina] But then you see that she can even be
more straight. (chuckles) – Yeah, yeah, and the
looks can be deceiving, because, actually, Josephine felt like her shoulders were really tight, and she felt like she was
actually heavy down in her arms. So very well-meaning friends will tell us, when you’re making music, sit up straight. I have a six-year-old, I have a daughter, and she came home one day, and she said, Josephine, you can turn around
or go back to your seat, whatever you like. She came home one day, and she, (laughs) she was sitting there very beautifully, like poised in herself, kind of singing her song from chorus. And then she said, “Mommy,
our music teacher told us “that we shouldn’t sing like this. “We should sing like this. “We should sit up straight and sing.” And so, (laughs) she
started to sing for me in her version of sitting up straight. And I have to tell you, her sound was so much more beautiful when she was just at ease and kind of quiet and poised in herself. And so it doesn’t always mean that
there’s gonna be a change when we do our I’m sitting up. (laughs) I’ve played piano for a lot of years. And all of my teachers have
always told me, “Sit up.” (laughs) Because how many
tensions are you using to sit up? To see my six-year-old do it, you could see her applying
all of those tensions. But as we get older
and more sophisticated, and we study more and more, we’ve been given the note, hey, sit up, but don’t raise your shoulders. Okay. (laughs) All right, sit up, don’t
raise your shoulders, and don’t put your chin back like that. Right? And we actually start to tie ourselves into this knot of tension. And then it’s like, now
make beautiful music. But I’m so tight, how do
I make beautiful music? Okay, let’s hear a drummer. – [Student] Here or there? – Wherever you like. – Just need that. Here’s good. – Okay. – You want me to play? (lively drum music) – [Rebecca] Okay, great. Good, thank you. Let’s clap. (students applauding) That’s fun. I love to hear the rhythm
instruments. (laughs) What do you notice? – Kind of I was going like that. – [Rebecca] You felt like
you were going like that? Where’s your weight? Where are you holding, or let me ask you differently.
– Down here. – [Rebecca] Do you feel
like you’re this thing that I’m calling the balancing act? Or do you feel more like your body is set, and you’re kind of
playing from a set place? – I kinda like to think that I’m all set, but then I’m not, so I pull myself back. – [Rebecca] Hmm, okay. – Yeah.
– Yeah, all right. Let me move piano bench slightly back. Okay. So first thing is we’re not
gonna play the drum yet. So you can… There’s that tendency in all of us when the instrument is there,
it’s all about the instrument. When the thought of the song is there, it’s all about the song. – Guilty. – So there’s this way in which when we begin using Alexander
principles with ourselves, kind of the first thing you
wanna do is just disconnect. Okay, I’m standing in front of my drum, but I am not getting
ready to play the drum. (drumsticks tap) Oh, yeah. And that might mean
putting down the sticks. So I’m standing here, but I’m
actually coming into myself. I’m coming back into myself. Because the instrument, for
all of us, is out there. So the tendency is to
get drawn down into it. Okay. And we’re all beginning here by seeing our skeletons inside of us. And by rediscovering the delicate quality of poise
that exists within our bodies. So the balancing place for
your head is actually higher. You’ve heard me describe
it with other people. But it’s always a little different when you get hands-on for yourself, because the balancing place
is up here between your ears. So you wanna think way up into there. – Mm-hmm. – You might even imagine that your spine is behind your nose, so that you kinda think
about it from the front. That’s right, there you go. All right. And then let’s just let your
eyes look over to the right, so that we explore the
movement of your head on that way high up balancing point, good. And as your head is moving
all the way up in there, I’m just gonna suggest that you’ve got another balancing here where your torso is
balancing on your legs. Okay, now, what do you
know about locked knees? Does that mean anything to you? – What’s that? – Locking knees. Locked knees are when we do that. It’s a hyperextension. It’s when we pull the knees back. The knee joint only works going forward. Yeah? – [Lotti] Some people
lock their knee so much, it’s almost as though
they take their knee, they take it from the
front, push it to the back. – Yeah, that’s right. – [Lotti] I don’t
understand why some do it. They know they do it, but it’s weird.
– Yeah. – I guess that’s where the
wobbly thing comes from. – I think it might be, yeah. Yeah, you’re a bit stiff there on your legs.
– Yeah. – Yeah, yeah, good observation. You know why they do it? Because it feels normal to them, and they don’t know any better. (student chuckles) Really, that’s why they do it. It’s why we all have our habits, because our habits feel normal to us. And as you guys do a
workshop like this today, you wanna be kinda
generous with yourselves when you start to notice
what some of your habits are. Be kind of kind, kind to yourself, because habits don’t make
you a bad person. (laughs) It just means that you’ve got these places that feel comfortable to you that might be comfortable,
but may not be effective. – So locking knees is a
positive thing, or no? – Locking knees is not a positive thing. – Oh.
(Rebecca laughs) – Because if your knees are locked up, you’re stiffening your legs. And if your legs are stiffened,
I’m gonna be colorful here, basically, the leg bones get
jammed up into the pelvis. And if the pelvis is jammed full of legs, then you don’t have the
foundation for your breath, which even if you’re not a
singer is still important, because rhythm is all about breath, right?
– Mm-hmm. Pulse. – Pulse, you got it. So you wanna be connected to your breath, yeah, which means that we
don’t want those locked knees. Circle right back around. That’s very different, isn’t it? – Yeah.
– What’s this like? – Robotic. – Oh, it feels robotic. Does he look robotic? – [Student] No. – No? (chuckles) All right, so we’re gonna pick up
the sticks again and play. (drumsticks tapping)
Okay, now that was so great. Well done, habit. (student laughs) When you picked up the sticks,
what happened to your knees? – Locked back again. – They locked. Isn’t that brilliant? – Automatic. (students laughing) – It’s automatic, it’s your habit, yeah, that you go to play your instrument, and your body goes, I know
how to do that. (laughs) So put your sticks down. (drumsticks tap) This time, this is like
remember when Dorothy, I had Dorothy walking, and I talked to her about don’t go down in order to walk?
– Mm-hmm. – So here, this is such a great moment. You’ve got this beginning
of picking up the sticks where you get to say, don’t lock my knees in order to pick up my sticks. Good job. Yeah, good job, that was great. You did not lock your knees that time. Okay, so when you begin playing, you’re gonna ask yourself
not to lock the knees. – Mm-hmm. – And then as you’re playing, you’re just gonna see if
you can stay connected to your own legs as well as the
rhythms that you’re playing. – Should I begin? – Yup. (energetic drum music) – I locked again. – (laughs) You did really well, though. Yeah, you didn’t lock
until just that moment. You wanna try again? – I’ll practice at home. – You could do it.
(students laughing) Are you game? Can you do it one more time?
– Only the left, only the left one locked,
though, not the right. – Good, do it one more time. That was cool, wasn’t it? Wasn’t that neat?
(solemn drum music) Okay, hang on, let me stop. Because I just wanna be
really true to the technique. – Mm-hmm. – So when you get an observation like, oh, I pick up my drumsticks
and I lock my legs, it is so easy to just shorten the process. – Ignore it. – And make it all about like, I’m either locking my knees
or I’m not locking my knees. But I wanna encourage you
to think about your body as a whole connected up system. And without us having to
rationally go through step by step. – Mm-hmm. – Just kinda trust me (laughs) that if you free your neck and get interested in
this balance up here. – Mm-hmm. – So that you go back, it’s
up a little bit higher. There you go, a little bit higher, and a little bit higher, that’s right. Then if you go all the
way up through there, because your head changes, because your head literally
rebalances itself, your legs have an easier time changing. – Does it necessarily mean
that I should look up, though? ‘Cause every time you mention up and fixing my head upwards.
– Uh-huh. – It’s kind of bringing my sight up, too. – You’re bringing your eyes up. – Yeah.
– Your eyes can move separately from your head. Where would you like to be looking. – Right here is fine.
– Okay, good. So you keep your eyes out there. – Okay. (drumsticks tap) – All right, go ahead. (energetic drum music) – Didn’t lock. – And it did lock or it didn’t lock? – No.
– No, you didn’t lock. I didn’t feel it. I didn’t. (laughs) All right, thank you. (Rebecca and students applauding) Okay, guys, show of hands, who else wants to work? I know you do. (students laughing) Okay, last guy. – Oh.
– Last guy up. Come on.
– I’m up. – Yeah, ’cause it’s 10 minutes to three. – [Student] Oh. – Time goes fast when you’re having fun. All right. So do you have a song for us. – Yeah, I can. – Yeah, okay.
– Sure. – So just do the beginning of something. Oh, you know what? (bright piano music) No, you go ahead. You start it off first, yeah. – Without feeling something, right? Okay. (“La Ci Darem La Mano” by
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart) (singing in foreign language) – Beautiful vocal. (students applauding) What’s so nice about
doing something like this is it’s fun to hear performances, right? And it’s so nice that we get to start with a performance that’s, for everybody, with performances that are good, and then we get to see what
other colors we can find, right? Like how we can actually make them better. – Okay, I’m so excited.
(students laughing) – Yeah, no, really. – Shh.
– Because, you know, I teach Alexander
Technique five days a week. So I teach this technique to
a lot of different people. And 1/2 of my students are performers, but the other 1/2 come see
me because they’re in pain. So it’s really lovely
that you guys start off with it’s going pretty well for you, and we’re just using this
technique to enhance it and to make it even better. There are scenarios where people’s bodies kinda aren’t working for them, and where they start off from is actually a really painful place. And it’s like learning how
to use these principles is taking them from a painful
place into a normal place. – Mm-hmm. – So I love that. All right, so you’re so excited. I’m so excited, too, okay. (Rebecca and student chuckling) So here’s your neck. (Rebecca laughs)
– Hello. – Hello, neck. Your neck is just another
part of this torso. – Mm-hmm. – Here’s the bottom of your
torso way down there, yeah. So torsos are deep. (laughs) They’re deep, right? (laughs) From way up here to all
the way down here, right? – Mm-hmm. – There’s a lot of air space, lot of sound space, lot of resonating container, right? Like resonating shell, the torso. Big resonator. Big, full torso for sound
waves to resonate against. So your torso is three-dimensional, which means that you’ve got this side to side dimension as well. – Mm-hmm. – Yeah, we call this the width dimension. Alexander teachers, we use that language. We use lengthening and widening. So yeah, okay, good. So I think that wider stance supports a little more width through here. That’s just how it seems. Good, come way up here. So as you’re singing, I don’t want you to compress, right? All that torso space. But I also don’t want you to squeeze your torso space either. – Okay.
– I want you to just leave your torso space wee, widening, lengthening, and deepening. Good. Your neck is easy. And your head, way up in here. Come a little higher, okay, there you go. Your head is poising and balancing all the way up in here between your ears. Good. Yeah, there you go. Okay, so when you’re ready, you can begin. (“La Ci Darem La Mano” by
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart) (singing in foreign language) Good, how you doin’? – I’m okay. (Rebecca and student laughing)
(students applauding) – They liked it. Was that different than how
you sang the first time? – I guess so, yes. – How? – I can only say more aware for now. – More air. – Aware, aware. – Oh, more aware, good, good. We’re gonna do it one more time. Is that okay, all right?
– Okay, sure. – ‘Cause I wanna be a little bit more specific with you right now. The reason that I came up here and I kinda put my hand
there underneath your jaw– – Was I locking it down? – You are locking it down. So when I’m talking to you about I don’t want you to compress, right, I don’t want you to
crunch down in your torso, and I don’t want you
to squeeze, watch this. When I bring, when I bring my jaw down like that, do you see how my shoulders and my chest also start to kinda squeeze in like that? Can you see that in me?
– Mm-hmm. – So that’s a little
bit of what’s happening is that your jaw is coming down. It’s kind of coming down and
taking away some of the big, beautiful, spacious torso.
– Mm-hmm. – And then the shoulders
are jumping on board and coming in as well. So, yes. Now I am not telling you pull it long or stretch yourself out wide. – Mm-hmm.
– I’m not saying that. I’m saying allow for this freedom. Let your neck be easy. There you go. Let your head poise, because when the head
is up there balancing, then you’ve got a relief
of pressure in your body. So your body is not gonna close in. So you don’t have to pull it wide and you don’t have to pull it up long. If you keep poising, there you go, then you’re gonna be okay. All righty, let’s sing again. (“La Ci Darem La Mano” by
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart) (singing in foreign language) Good, good, what’s that like? – It did sound more pure, like it sounded… (chuckles) (students applauding)
It wasn’t, it doesn’t– – They love it, they love it. – [Student] It was
definitely more resonant. – Yeah. – [Student] I interrupt
only because I just have to go finish a club session downstairs, so I’ll be back to say goodbye
to you in a couple minutes. – Okay, all right, okay. We’re actually, we’re
about to wrap up, so. – [Student] Oh, okay. I told them I’d be down there
at two minutes to three, so I’ll be right back. – Okay. See, I’m like a teacher, so I’m like, let’s keep working on this. But I think we should respect the time. And I do wanna have time for comments, and questions, and that sort of thing. So thank you. – Thank you.
– Yeah. (Rebecca and students applauding) Okay, so yeah. – [Lotti] I felt that he became more relaxed in his standings instead of sort of being set to sing. He was there to sing the song, and the song was heard
because he was relaxed. – Ugh, that’s a great observation. Did you guys hear that? That instead of getting
set to sing the song, you were there (laughs) for the song to, I’m gonna change your words a little, but yeah, for the song to come out of you. – Yeah.
– Yeah, yeah. Mm-hmm? – [Corrina] At the beginning
when he was singing, I felt he was on one leg. And all this not being
grounded just beforehand, made as well a tension in his mouth, in his way that he was singing. The afterwards, that’s why I think he said it was more pure, the sound. – Mm-hmm. – [Corrina] He wasn’t, even
his jaw and everything, he wasn’t forcing it. – Yeah.
– It was more like flowing. – That’s right.
– It’s much, much more beautiful. – Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s a lovely, that’s
another where this happened over here with Josephine playing the piano where you guys were
observing these changes in kind of multiple ways. Like there’s this mechanical shift where he’s not trying to ground down in his neck and his jaw anymore, because he’s got his legs there. And that’s kind of the
flip side of the coin of he’s not there trying to set himself. He’s just showing up so
that the music can happen. Yeah, yeah? – [Lotti] Some people
tend to hunch forward. If you should raise your head, do you somehow like you
bring yourself backwards and you lock your knees so
you’ll have your balance, is that another way of
compressing, but in the back? – Yes. Yes, yeah. So what’s your name? – [Lotti] Lotti. – Lotti?
– Yes. – So what she’s describing here is watching performers who do this, and they’ve been given the
note, this doesn’t work, so they go here instead. (laughs) – [Lotti] And it’s the same thing. – And it’s the same exact thing. It’s just taking instead of the tension being in here to hold the body up, the tension moves to
here to hold the body up. But either way, you’re
still dealing with tension that’s gonna lock your spine and going to compress, for
singers, your diaphragm, but all of those delicate internal systems that need to be functioning
in order for you to be a human being making music. – [Dorothy] I got a question. – Yeah. – [Dorothy] What song does
your daughter sing for? – What song do I wanna sing you? (laughs) – [Dorothy] No, your daughter. – Oh, what song does my daughter sing? Gosh, she’s in a school chorus. – Oh, nice.
– So she kinda comes home singin’ whatever they’re singing. – [Dorothy] Ah. – She’s been singing a Martin
Luther King song a lot. – Wow.
– Yeah. (laughs) – My God. (laughs)
– She’s got this, it’s like a little,
what’s the word for it? They say an earworm? – Yeah.
– Right? It’s like an earworm. She’s got it stuck in her head.
– Oh, wow. – This really sweet, it’s
a little like a folk song. Okay, so– – [Corrina] But it’s so
difficult to do this work without somebody guiding you, you know? – Yeah. – [Corrina] Like me, the feeling I had I was
falling to the ground, and actually, it’s now what I’m doing. I’m actually standing up. – Yeah. – [Corrina] I really
think you need somebody to guide you with it. – Yeah, yeah. So let’s begin to kind of segue
into a closing conversation. It’s definitely true, that maybe you guys who had the hands-on experience can agree, it’s different to have somebody else there kind
of partnering with you to support you in making the changes. It is, though, possible. It’s really possible to go through the process of change yourself. Alexander did it himself. He wrote about his process in a book called The Use of the Self. The first chapter, he
describes literally– – Wow.
– How he studied himself, and what he noticed, and his pitfalls. So you could definitely use that book as a kind of companion. Many people do find it easier
to study with a teacher. So I don’t think you guys have a teacher here at the college, so I think that’s why I came out today. I do teach a group class in the city. It meets on Sunday nights. You’ve got my, there’s a card back there. And I teach private lessons, too, so. I teach in Astoria as
well as in Manhattan. I teach in Astoria and Union Square. There are also great books, you know? It helps to have a teacher,
but it’s also you’re in school, so (laughs) you probably have a lot of other things on your plate. Yeah, if you think then you wanna study, then let’s have a conversation. Any of you. But you also all have real
kind of hour and 40 minutes of something new today, and hopefully, you’ll go
off and in your rehearsals, you’ll play with what
you learned here today. – Ah.
– And (laughs) yeah. And see where it takes you. See what kind of door gets
opened up from this workshop. All righty, I think we’ll
be wrapping things up, so I just wanna thank you all. You guys were (students applauding)
a really, really listening, participating crew. And as I say, I’ll be
around for a few minutes if you wanna talk after class.