LITTLETON -- When the world's top athletes, actors, musicians and performers need help overcoming physical pain or performance anxiety, they turn to an educational practice called the Alexander Technique. Offered in the finest conservatories throughout the world, it's more unusual to see the technique being taught in small-town Massachusetts.
But certified Alexander Technique teacher David Behrstock of Boxborough does just that every week at Indian Hill Music School in Littleton. Behrstock took up the Alexander Technique when he was an actor, preparing for the role of Shakespeare's Henry V. Now he focuses on teaching the technique to faculty and students at the music school.
This movement-based technique, developed by Fredrick Matthias Alexander in the late 19th century, helps to eliminate muscular tension during activities, making movement less strained and reducing pain while properly aligning the body.
For a musician, this not only has implications for freer and more rhythmic movement, but helps to improve the quality of the performance and overcoming anxiety. Behrstock believes that performance anxiety, when left untreated, can be detrimental to performing careers, and considers treating anxiety to be one of the most important and practical applications of the Alexander Technique.
Alexander Technique classes can be helpful for any student or performer who, as Behrstock says, "wants to be a better performer using techniques other than technical knowledge of their instrument." He describes the technique as "magical," as he tells a story about listening to a violinist whose playing improved instantaneously with the help of an Alexander Technique instructor. "Plus," he adds, "I've had students who told me that the technique has helped them better manage their lives outside of music."
Learn more about Alexander Technique in two workshops at Indian Hill, 36 King St., on Saturday, Oct. 26. The first workshop, "Calming Your Nerves," is from 9 a.m. to noon, and the second, "Performance Skills for Musicians" is from 1-4 p.m. Attendees can come to either or both. The cost for one workshop is $25 or $40 for both. Learn more at indianhillmusic.org or 978-486-9524, ext. 0.