Artist Spotlight is a new feature providing a more in-depth connection with those who are part of the Kneisel Hall community. Look forward to more in the future. Our first installment is with Ann Rodiger, Alexander Technique Instructor. Ann will be in residence from July 16th to July 23rd.
What is the Alexander Technique and how is it used?
The Alexander Technique is an awareness practice that provides a way for students to learn how to integrate their mind and movement which leads to better overall balance and functioning. The spatial awareness that comes through the AT Principles allows the student to be more present with themselves and their environment at the same time.
How did you become an expert in Alexander Technique?
I became involved in the Alexander Technique while in graduate school for dance at The Ohio State University. Then I was able to take a teacher training class while I was teaching at the University of Illinois – Urbana in the dance department. I’ve always had singers and instrumentalists in my private practice. I’ve been teaching the Alexander Technique since 1982 and during that time have worked with many different types of performing artists as well as others with various sorts of physical conditions.
Why/How does this specifically benefit musicians?
The Alexander Technique specifically benefits musicians as they need to interact and often support their instrument for extended periods of time during practice and performance. There is often a specific range of motion with repetitive actions during playing. As the student’s body becomes more balanced and free, those movements become easier and more fluid which allows for a better vibration of the instrument leading to a fuller sound and the ability to play with more nuance and expression. This all helps tremendously with preventing injury and fatigue.
Is there formal training to do what you do?
The training to become an Alexander Technique is in a formal 1600-hour course. It is over at least a three-year period of time to allow students to change the way they function and integrate their mind/body at a fundamental level. I am the Director of such a course in NYC at the Balance Arts Center and to have the course be certified by the American Society of the Alexander Technique you have to have been teaching the Technique for at least 10 years. I started this training course in 2003.
What other performing artists use Alexander Technique?
The Alexander Technique is used by many performing artists as most performers realize that their mind and body are actually are basically their main instruments. If it is functioning more optimally then their whole craft is enhanced. Singers, dancers, and actors all benefit from the Alexander Technique.
How/when did you come to be involved with Kneisel Hall?
I became involved with Kneisel Hall through Laurie Smuckler. She had been taking lessons with me for several years and then invited me to come work with the students. This coming summer will be my fourth summer at Kneisel. It is so wonderful to be a part of such beautiful music-making and to work with lovely and interested students. It is very rewarding to see and hear musicians and their sound change from the AT work. I look forward to being there again!