Relearning to Breathe: My First Takeaways of ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE as a Voice Actor
Did an in-studio session!
It was my first one, but it was a great time! Here's to hoping for more great sessions ❤
Started an emailing list
You can get updates on my blog, career, and victories through email! Which is so far more reliable for keeping updated with me than any social media algorithm black magic
Lights in the upgraded booth
I know it's tiny but it makes a world of difference for how sustainable I can preform in my booth. Anything to make a session easier is a victory in my booth
First off, what is Alexander Technique? An actor cast in a Shakespeare play realized that after every performance, his voice got hoarse no matter the situation. Alexander Technique, is optimizing your body to minimize that from even happening. It is finding the best positions to best access the diaphragm and allow the voice to have efficient access to the breath needed to sustain it.
I have already started practicing Alexander Technique and seeing results in my performances. Notably, I do less post-processing during my voice acting sessions because my breaths and mouth clicks are just less noticeable to non-existent.
I was working on a cover of a song with a very high range, and using what I learned in class, I found that most of the song was easier to sing, and almost felt completely natural when I let myself really embody this technique.
Before I write my thoughts, please note I AM NOT AN ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE COACH. I am still discovering how to use it for myself and these are my initial experiences on it. If you want to learn it for yourself, which I highly recommend, please seek a coach.
1.) Play. It’s Not Pretend. After taking a series of back to back classes for acting followed by this Alexander Technique class, one of my favorite takeaways is that I am playing, not pretending. While similar, the connotations for each word adds to the significance of how my mindset changed. Pretending is forcing an outward appearance either by disguise or a series of actions. On the other hand, playing is interacting with the outward environment to find discover something within. Trying to find a science and force out a feeling onto an audience will come out manufactured and mechanical. ON THAT NOTE...
2.) It’s not a Science.
As a STEM fan, I really tried to find a scientific way to make this technique work, but I only started to see progress when I let myself be guided by the feelings and the imagination of it all. There are of course clear scientific reasons why certain postures work better than others, and I should definitely practice good form to maximize my ability and ease to perform. However, I responded and felt the most effects when I told intuitive directions: “think up”, “out not in”, “glide don’t step”. The fact that my body knew how to respond to those statements to how my teacher wanted would be such an interesting study, but I think I finally understood what “mind over matter”. My mindset change gave me the responses I needed from my body to perform. All the more, I think practicing and getting your mind in the moment is going to be helpful for any type of performance.
3.) It’s Going to be a Process
I wish it was as easy as just sitting up straighter to optimally use Alexander Technique, but there are muscles that aren’t used to be used they way they are and practicing and preparing my body and mind to respond to this state is not an overnight process. However, it's been a rewarding process. Some revelations are sudden, but like many creatives know, skills and techniques are an art to practice. There are no shortcuts to expertise and strength.
If you’re interested in Alexander Technique, I highly recommend my teacher who has an online course and resources readily available (here).
Not only did I realize it gave me greater access to my body and breath, but made me really rethink my relationship with breathing and my performance. I am not finished with this class, but I would recommend Alexander Technique for every performer I see, even if they’re not a voice artist. I plan on writing a follow up after I finish the class in three months and hope to share my before and after process.