When working with musicians, I allow all my experience as a performing horn player, Alexander technique teacher and meditater to flow into my work. Whether we are listening to the attack of a pianist or percussionist, the sound produced by the bow stroke of a string player or the tone of a wind player, the relationship between the body and sound can be instantly detected.
The body does not act of its own accord and is controlled by thought. The creative spirit is active when these thoughts are occupied with “audiolising” all the facets of a tone. Colour, intonation, dynamic, the beginning and end of the note or its role within a phrase are just some of the qualities we can imbibe music with. When the judgmental mind is stilled, the stress that arises from the expectation of perfection generated by colleagues, the public or oneself, is reduced or dropped. The ensuing space creates room for creativity and a sharing of expression with the audience.
Influenced by historical performance practice, I researched over many years how the breath, posture and musical expression were taught before 1900- a time when a very high standard was reached on all instruments. Historical treatises dealt with ways in which unnecessary tensions could be avoided. Posture and breath also played an important role in the teaching of Solfège to young children. Much of this information was lost when results became more important than the learning process itself. Paradoxically, improvement is not caused by determination alone. When mindfulness is accurately placed on the means-whereby, the music can return to center stage.
When teaching musicians, I use historical musical exercises found during my research and old articulation and breathing techniques. When musical expression can be recreated in the moment, the results are astonishing and touch both performer and listener.