Using Alexander Technique to Improve Piano Posture?

Hi Artiden friends! I ran the Alexander technique (mini) experiment last week, where I incorporated the principles into my daily life and my practice sessions.

The Alexander technique is a way to release tension to improve posture, alignment, and movement.

What did I do, and how did it go?

Watch the video below to find out!

To clarify, there were 500 patients in the study cited in the video. Here’s the Alexander Technique study published in the British Medical Journal (researchers from University of Southampton, University of Bristol)

This article may be a useful starting point for learning more about the Alexander technique.

If you’re interested in the actual experiment details, I’ve included them below.

Mini-Experiment Outcomes

Alexander Technique Music

I used one skill from the Alexander technique for a few weeks, to see if it improved my playing or decreased my back pain. Here is the original article on how I ran the experiment.

a) Does using the Alexander Technique when playing piano (or other instrument) improve quality of playing when the session is longer than 15 mins?

There’s not enough evidence to know that my quality of piano playing is improved when the practice session is longer than 15 mins. However, when it’s shorter than 15 mins and I remember to actually release tension, my playing is more powerful. I feel that my playing is stronger.

But, as time tocks on and I become more engrossed in the music, I slouch again and forget anything to do with posture.

When I sit on the ground, I shift positions every 20 mins or so, and perhaps that’s why I experience less pain when I sit on the ground.

I can’t reject nor accept the null hypothesis.

b) Does using the Alexander Technique when sitting for more than 15 mins minimize pain?

It’s not easy to overwrite the habits your body has learned over the years.

I can reject the null hypothesis because using the technique when sitting, anytime, decreased my pain.

I’ve found evidence to support the fact that using the Alexander technique to minimizes pain when sitting for more than 15 mins, but I have to keep reminding myself to use the technique.

I didn’t expect that I would have to constantly correct myself.

Alexander Technique Hypotheses:

a) Using the Alexander Technique when playing piano (or other instrument) improves quality of playing when the session is longer than 15 mins. (Not enough evidence to support)
b) Using the Alexander Technique when sitting for more than 15 mins minimizes pain. (Found evidence to support)

Null Hypotheses:

a) Using the Alexander Technique when playing piano does not improve the quality of playing when the session is longer than 15 mins. (Not enough evidence to reject)
b) Using the Alexander Technique when sitting for more than 15 mins does not minimize pain. (Rejected)

What is the Alexander Technique and How Can it Help Pianists?Data Analysis

Some sessions were less than 15 mins which I didn’t record data for, but I had intermittent pain from the way I was sitting or where I was sitting (I love to sit on the ground).

I always started with no pain and had pain onset in the middle of the session. To rate the pain, I decided to use a simplified version of the PQRST system (thanks, lifeguarding class!) – Pain quality, radiating/region, severity, timing.

Towards the end of the experiment, I had to remind myself to release tension less often, but I didn’t track how long my body stayed in the Alexander positions for.

The onset of pain seems to come later as I learned to use the technique. I also kept track of timing (in case I was more sore at a certain time of day) and any anomalies in the way I was sitting.

Conclusion

I got better at reminding myself to release tension. It might’ve also helped that I exercised more often towards the end of the experiment, so my body was in better alignment anyways.

As a result, I didn’t record too many sessions, but you don’t need an overwhelming amount of data to know if a technique works for you… it just works.

I’m convinced that while the Alexander isn’t a magic pill, it will help decrease pain and improve movement if you follow the exercise and training techniques on a regular basis.

I didn’t expect to have to keep correcting myself, but like I said, it’s not a magic pill. I was new to the Alexander technique and it took a bit of time to get used to the movement.

It’s worth a try for yourself and not a bad idea to seek out an Alexander music instructor!

What do you think about the Alexander Technique?

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