Sessions for Non-Pianists
But right away, when I saw him leaning his whole body forward as he moved the slide forward, I sensed he’d play with more freedom if he stood upright instead—that this would better support his forward arm movements.
And wow—what a difference this made.
Then I saw that he seemed to lack awareness of how his lips felt. We worked on that too, and his sound became more clear and strong—his intentions came into focus.
When I interviewed teachers of several instruments, who had successfully retrained injured players, I discovered that a lot of the same biomechanical principles apply to all musicians. And the MDs, physical therapists, Alexander teachers, and other health professionals I interviewed, all corroborated what I had learned from these music teachers. It’s been exciting to discover that by using basic biomechanical principles, along with the other ingredients of my teaching, I can actually help these musicians play more freely.
For three decades I’ve helped players of violin, viola, cello, flute, clarinet, oboe, trumpet, trombone, tuba, saxophone, harp, guitar, and string quartet, re-engineer their playing, often in a short series of lessons and workshops. This work is really gratifying because many of these players have gone for years feeling limited in expressing themselves through music. I’ve even helped singers open up possibilities by focusing on basic aspects of body and sound awareness, as well as on the meaning of the words they’re singing. Through our “laboratory-style” work, I help these musicians pinpoint what’s standing in the way of giving their best to an audience.
This changes not only their sound and ease of playing, but their mindset and confidence.
“Practicing the new way feels great, and my sound is so much better. And doing the Performing Beyond Fear exercise before each performance has transformed my experience of performing. I actually find myself enjoying the moment, and feeling like I can lose my ego to some extent and just give the music to the audience.”
–Felicity Corrie, cellist, alum of Cambridge University
“Madeline is a teacher with a rare gift. There are many teachers out there who can teach you the craft, but Madeline succeeds in making you grow as an artist and a human being.”
–Xose Miguelez, saxophonist, alum of Conservatorio Superior de Musica de Vigo, Spain