For voice and breathing

My understanding of the Alexander Technique forms the core of my work with voice clients. Whether you have a voice problem, or wish to improve your voice for personal or professional reasons, a working knowledge of the Alexander Technique will form a solid foundation on which to build your new vocal skills.

Development of the Alexander Technique and its links to voice work

FM Alexander developed the Alexander Technique as a result of his search for a solution to the persistent voice and breathing problems he experienced while performing on stage. He became well known for his work with actors, and also people suffering from conditions such as voice problems and asthma.

Voice work and the Alexander Technique today

Today the Alexander Technique offers improved understanding and coordination of breathing to singers, performers, people who use their voices for their jobs, and anyone who has an interest in producing a voice free from undue strain. Alexander Technique can also bring relief from panic attacks that affect the breath and voice.

More about Voice Use

A healthy voice requires no conscious effort. We think the thought, and if we wish to, we voice it, blissfully unaware of the complexities of voice production. When things go wrong however it is a different story. Shortness of breath, discomfort, both physical and emotional pain, and a voice that does not do what we intend.

What can go wrong

Voices can become damaged or strained or unsatisfactory in many ways. Common causes are a change of job, where suddenly more demands are made on your voice. Maybe you need to use it more, in group situations, or under stressful conditions such as speaking at meetings, or in front of an audience. Or there may have been an episode of over use, such as at a football match, or concert, which has left a hoarseness that does not seem to go away. Or perhaps a combination of factors have had a drip, drip, drip effect on your voice: working long hours at a desk with your spine in a cramped position, recurrent colds, a stuffy atmosphere, and an increase in stress may combine to attack your vulnerable spot, your voice.

Whatever the reason, once a voice is malfunctioning or is unsatisfactory, it can be hard to find a way forward. We can make the mistake of trying to force the voice to perform, an approach that can only exacerbate matters. We resort to patent remedies, but many of these are useless and may even irritate the larynx. We may rest the voice, which can give temporary relief, but once normal use is resumed, a lingering weakness may persist and the problem may return during the next period of strain.

Working Holistically with The Voice

My approach is to re-educate the person in the use of their voice. I aim to alert the client to the habits of voice production that have caused, or are maintaining their voice problem, whether that problem is a damaged voice, or a voice that is for some reason deemed to be unsatisfactory for it's owner's purposes. We then work together to heighten the person's awareness of their current patterns of behaviour, in tandem with providing a way of producing voice in a way free of unhelpful habits of production.

My approach is heavily informed by my training as an Alexander teacher. I approach voice work holistically, that is, I look at the whole person. This is because one cannot divorce voice production from what the rest of the body is doing. If for instance a person has a habit of tightening their legs and feet when they speak, this will have a knock on effect throughout the whole musculature which impedes free flow of the voice. Likewise, if a person has a tightness in the jaw and tongue, this will effect the voice. Through redressing the person's whole way of being, while vocalising, far greater effects can be wrought than mere “vocal exercises” which concentrate on disparate parts of the voice. It is my experience that having done the exercises, the person learns little more than to do the exercises, but combining them to produce voice often proves a step too far.

Alexander Technique and Voice Therapy

Addressing physical habits is an acknowledged area of voice therapy. Therapists working with dysphonic patients are familiar with the need to council clients against habits such as crossing legs and arms, or slouching, which encourage unhelpful muscular tension. However, this is not such an easy nut to crack; chronic habits can be difficult to break. The Alexander Technique teaches the pupil increased awareness of inappropriate tension and imbalance and their effects on the voice, and offers a way to re-discover balance and poise.