Research by Janet Davies
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This paper reports on the perceived benefits of AT classes specifically designed for tertiary music students. There is also some information about an Australia-wide AT intervention for orchestral musicians – the Sound Practice Posture Trial, which showed positive results for AT relative to exercise for ease of movement, playing-related stress, posture, concentration, confidence, techniques to support playing, and overall playing capacity.
Professional and student instrumental musicians experience high rates of playing-related pain (PR pain) and other playing-related musculoskeletal disorders (PRMDs). This significant occupational health risk signals an urgent need for preventive education at the college level. During tertiary studies however, music students may be more focused on musical skill development than health outcomes. Alexander Technique (AT) is reputed to be beneficial for factors relating to both PR pain and the improvement of performance quality in musicians, therefore AT training for music students could be relevant for prevention.
To examine the effects of AT classes for tertiary music students on PR pain, associated risk factors for PR pain, and factors associated with improvements in music performance quality.
Responses were collected from 23 volunteer music performance students at an Australian University who undertook weekly AT classes for one semester using a curriculum specifically designed for music students.
The majority of participants rated AT classes as beneficial for all actors, particularly reduction of PR pain, posture, ability to release excess muscle tension, improvements in instrumental technique, and improvements in performance level. Benefits to practice effectiveness and a reduction in non-playing-related pain, stress levels and performance anxiety were also reported.
Purpose-designed AT classes may contribute to the management of PR pain and pertinent risk factors in music students, thus further investigation of the potential role of AT classes in pain prevention programs is warranted.Reports of benefit across a range of performance-related skills strengthen relevance to music practice and performance.