Day 30 Alexander Technique & Singing Tip: The Royal College of Music Voice Faculty Thinks the Alexander Technique Should Form the Basis of Singer Training
There was an experiment in the 1950s, giving Alexander lessons to the singing students at the Royal College of Music. The results were very impressive and a scientific comparison was made with a control group from the Central School of Speech (This is written up in Barlow’s collection of writings about the Technique, ‘More Talk of Alexander’).
The Royal College of Music singing professors produced written conclusions as follows.
In each case there has been a marked physical improvement, which was usually reflected vocally and dramatically. It was a revelation to discover that tricks of behaviour could be eliminated in a comparatively short space of time once the student learned to control his tensional balance from the head-neck region. In all cases students, since re-education, are easier to teach and can take and carry out stage directions with greater ease.
The students seem to become aware of themselves in a new way. Each student reacted in a different characteristic way. For example, those who had been over-anxious to please authority discovered that they could be themselves with impunity, ceasing to be such model students, but becoming better performers. One student, a girl hampered by angular stereotyped movements, and a curiously ‘spinsterish’ quality of personality, has acquired considerable warmth and gracefulness. Another, with originally a very mediocre ‘drawing-room’ voice, is now considered by her original teachers and critics to have developed the qualities of voice and personality that go to make a really great singer.
The time it takes to get results varies greatly between one student and another. The utilization of the approach depends largely on the student himself.
Eight of the fifty re-educated students entered last year for a singing prize which is competed for by women singers every four years. It is open to all amateur and professional singers under thirty years of age in the British Isles, and is considered the highest achievement possible for students. The total entry was over one hundred. Of the eight students who entered six reached the semi-final, in which there were fifteen competitors. This is quite out of proportion to what one might expect.
In our opinion, this approach is the best means we have yet encountered for solving the artist’s problem of communication and should form the basis of his training.