Recently I came across a quote by F.M. Alexander that resonated with me.
"People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures”.
It took me some time to realize that the author of this quote is Frederick Matthias Alexander, the author of the so-called Alexander Technique. Most of the musicians have heard about this term, yet not so many really know what this technique is really about. Nevertheless of your level of understanding, one can be sure that the creator of it was a true influencer by today’s standards.
However, the concept of habits’ influence on someone’s life it’s not so new since many before him spoke about the importance of thought or habit to influence your future.
For example, Chinese philosopher Lao-Tze (the 6th century BC):
"Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny."
And centuries later, the romantic poet and philosophical thinker Novalis (Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg) once wrote: "Character and fate are two words for the same thing".
As you can see everything comes down to our thoughts, habits, and actions. All you have to do is acknowledge that when you approach music, practicing, and even your spare time.
For those who don’t know, here’s a short overview of this technique and its creator.
Frederick Matthias Alexander was an actor, born in Tasmania in 1869, who experienced chronic hoarseness during his recitations on stage.
Frustrated by the lack of solutions provided by medical professionals, he took it upon himself to understand the root cause of his vocal issues. Through meticulous self-observation, he discovered that his habits of movement and posture were at the core of his troubles. This revelation led him to develop a unique methodology aimed at retraining the mind and body to achieve more efficient and harmonious movement.
As he refined his technique, word of Alexander's success spread, attracting the attention of musicians who were seeking ways to enhance their performance. Musicians, often grappling with tension, stage fright, and limitations in their range of motion, found solace and improvement through the principles Alexander had uncovered.
The Alexander Technique, as it came to be known, wasn't merely about posture; it was a holistic approach to body-mind coordination. Musicians learned to release unnecessary tension, allowing for more freedom and ease in their movements. They discovered that by changing deep-seated habits, they could access greater expressiveness in their singing or playing.
As Alexander Murray, a practitioner of this technique, author, and former Principal flute with the Covent Garden Opera and the London Symphony wrote: “The Alexander Technique, like the flute, cannot be adequately taught by the written word”, I suggest you read his article and get a better understanding of the value of this technique and additional useful resources.
As for myself, I try to improve my daily habits to achieve my goal of contributing to this flute source: discovering noteworthy flute repertoire and creating a story about each composition.
Please let me know if you have some interesting stories about some composition or an author who would like to share them with us.