Do you suffer from repetitive strain injury or carpal tunnel syndrome?
Do you have a backache or stiff neck and shoulders?
Do you become uncomfortable when sitting at your computer for long periods of time?
Are you a singer, musician, actor, dancer or athlete and feel you are not performing at your full potential?
If you have answered yes to any of these questions, the Alexander Technique could be of great benefit to you.
The Alexander Technique is a method which can help you perform all your usual activities without unnecessary tension. It can be applied to sitting, standing, walking, lifting, speaking – to whatever you do during your day.
Singing is a highly physical happening, a unique form of communication produced by muscle-movements set in motion by a fundamentally emotive desire to express beauty.
The Alexander Technique does not involve exercises, medical therapy or treatment, forms of psychotherapy, or spiritual healing techniques. It is also unlike the manipulations of bodywork or manual healing techniques: Rather than looking at the body as a set of separate “parts” or pressure points to be individually “worked on,” a skilled teacher guides a student through movement, observing and working with whole patterns of coordination, which include tension and postural patterns, how a student thinks about moving, and active movement itself. The student actively participates in this fascinating process, learning to apply his/her own intelligence to effectively change habits.
During a musician’s performance it is impossible to control consciously each of the many parts of the whole singing instrument, all of which need to work at the same time in a highly coordinated way. During practice, however conscious control wants to be directed at maintaining the poise and direction of the body to allow the voice to emerge by itself while working separately on the various parts of the singing instrument to wake them up and bring them into play so that the whole instrument is ready to work.
In practice and performance, a musician’s attention is given almost exclusively to what he is doing with his hands or his feet or his vocal organs, and to the sounds they are producing. Of what he is doing with the rest of his body, he usually knows very little. In attacking a difficult problem of technique, the average performer uses two approaches: He “tries hard” to master it, using all the skill at his command; if his trying builds up too much tension and fatigues him, he “relaxes.” In both cases he is working on a trial-and-error basis. He has no way of knowing exactly how much tension is needed, or how to limit it to the time and place where it is wanted.
Any performer who continues in this way runs the risk of becoming progressively more muscle-bound, and of losing his freedom of movement. If he recognizes the trouble and attempts to remedy it by relaxing, he runs into the danger in reverse. Either he becomes limp and relatively incompetent, or in achieving relaxation in one part he pays for it by becoming over-tense somewhere else.
In teaching the principle to a musician (or to anyone else, for that matter), the aim is to increase the pupil’s awareness of himself as a whole, until he can detect the interference in the head-neck relationship, which is the first link in the reflex chain of “getting set” to do something—to hit a drum, to sing, or to strike a chord. In order to accomplish this, the teacher helps the pupil to carry out the activity without the habitual interference, and to realize by actual experience the lightness and freedom of movement that come when the primary control operates normally. Through repeated experience of this kind, the pupil gradually builds up a new standard of kinesthetic judgment. With this standard he has the power at any time to know whether he is obtaining the maximum of freedom and control in what he is doing. If he is not obtaining it he learns how to find the cause of the trouble and eliminate it.
Because the principle is general in its application, a musician is learning something he can use to advantage in whatever he is doing. And conversely, his improved use of himself in everyday life will be reflected in his music.
Without the desire to express something, the vocal organ cannot cooperate and then, if you want to sing, you will have to “do” it. Using the thought that the whole mechanism is set in motion by the desire to communicate helps the singer avoid “doing” and prevents voice work from dwindling into a series of mechanical movements.
Ok, so you’re at a gas station…
Here are some tips for everyone, no matter if you are Fall Out Boy’s merch guy or if you sing for a band that is out touring with no label.
Always remember that you are what you eat…. and tour will put your body to the test. The better you eat, the easier it is to wake up for load in, the easier it is to have energy to run around on stage. It may sound cliche, but it is true! The healthier your body is, the more resistant it will be to injury and sickness. One back injury can ruin your touring plans, or one gum infection can slow you down quite a bit. It is vital that you try to be vigilant to keep you in top physical shape.
Opt to drink water at every turn!
Water makes up 80% of your body, it helps your memory, your muscle response, and it even fights fatigue!
There is a plethora of FREE water at every show… do not waste a drop! Make sure to throw the bottles away in the trash not on the floor as well.
Using your $7 dollar buy out at walmart or super target can go a long way to getting you some quality nutrition. Not to mention if you have a larger buy out you can save more money from per diem or buy out.
The rule of 3s!
If you can get 3 servings of fruits or vegetables you will feel better and have a better chance of fighting off that tour cold that everyone else in your van or your bus has.
Chose crackers! not sugar!
When you make that gas station stop, and there is no fruit, or it costs too much, then shoot for crackers or sunflower seeds. Sugar is important but not as important as carbs and essential elements. Also sugar will upset your stomach if you are beyond hungry and looking for some food. Most gas stations have ramen noodle cups that you can make at the gas station. Crackers are super cheap and 2 packs of peanut butter crackers can be very filling and will keep you going for a lot longer than a snickers bar.
This is one of the hardest areas to stay on top of even if you have a 9-5 job. Understanding how important it is to stay flexible and strong on tour is vital to doing your job. The more stretching you do the less likely you are to get “rock neck” or pulling a muscle while lifting that hardware case at load in.
- Get with a friend or a trainer who you trust to help you develop a program before you head out on your tour.
- Go on a 15 minute run after load in or after sound-check. Even if you are in Detroit, you can practice out running a bum!
- Bring a bike on tour! if you can fit one in, its a great lazy way to get some exercise in.
- Bring free weights and a bench if space allows.
- Pull ups in the trailer: Grab the top of the back of the trailer, lift your legs and go to it!
- Push ups, anytime, anywhere. All you need is a floor.
- Sit ups, anytime, anywhere! Stop, drop, and crunch.
- Do your your own research if you only know lazy people, only you can motivate yourself ultimately!
- Stretch, stretch, stretch! Every morning before load in, or right before sound check, spend 10 minutes stretching. It will make you more limber and more in control of your body to prevent you getting a “dumb” injury like tripping on the curb, pulling a tendon, or hitting your head. Develop a short stretch routine that works for you – i.e. toe touches, jumping jacks, hip bends, etc.
+ Pay close attention to how you are using your back – lift from your knees! In the end, girls are not impressed by a limping boy with a back brace and crutches.
Tour Friendly Health Tips
Take Care of yourself!
- If you take care of your diet and your body, you will have more patience with the stage hands and your singer. You will avoid small injuries because you have used your limbs before you went to work. You will have more energy, you will remember where you put your shampoo, and how to play that one drum fill exactly right.
- You only get one body, take care of it. You only get one back, one set of hands, so guard them and take care of them.
- You are what you eat, you cannot escape that truth.
- Talk to someone at ROCK FOR HEALTH to get some health care going for your band!