We had a great workshop on the Alexander Technique with Niamh Dowling. I was a little sceptical at first as I had no experience of this whatsoever, but it really has made me realise the importance of good posture, relaxation and movement. The more I look into it, the more critical it seems to be in terms of performance, and especially drumming in my case. I’ve been working on it quite a lot, and have been trying to improve my posture. I wrote up my experience of the Alexander Technique, and how I have tried to incorporate it into my performance and every day life. Here is a segment of my write up, showing some of my thoughts:
… I have also tried to improve my posture when sat at the drum kit. I felt that if I was hunched forward then I’d be restricting arm and muscle movements that should be natural and unforced. Again, like when I was walking around after the initial workshop, I felt a good few inches taller. This made me feel as if I was playing on top of the drums, rather than into them. However, I have a few dilemmas with the Alexander technique. For example, in certain scenarios, I feel as if I should be hunched over to play a certain feel or groove. I have noticed that I do not intentionally do it, but I just slip into these different positions and postures throughout my performances. I think ideally, I would be sat upright with good posture to allow full freedom of movement. However, I find that performance and drumming for me can at times become consuming to the point where you are unable to think. Of course throughout a performance, I am constantly thinking about where I am in the music, whether or not there is a chorus coming up and so forth. But a lot of the time, I feel like an audience member who is hearing the music just how they personally think it should be heard. I have heard many performers describing being ‘in the moment’, and for me that is exactly it. I have noticed that my posture will rise and fall with the dynamics of the music for example, and the type of song naturally changes my posture. I think for me, it is a case of keeping that self control and proper technique, without hindering performance and creativity, and I also wish to ascertain to what extent this is possible.
I feel as if this new way of thinking has opened some additional doors for me, and for the first time ever I have started to consciously think about my posture when performing. So far, I have found that when applying the technique I can generate more energy when required, and also conserve energy throughout a performance. This is all new to me, and I hope that as I explore the potential of this technique I’ll eventually reap the benefits. I’ve also managed to find lots of articles, journals and things on the web relating to the technique within drumming. You can find more information on the Alexander Technique here.