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June 4, 2014

I’m delighted!  I’ve just received my free hardcopy of the book, “The Music Parents’ Survival Guide ~ A Parent-to-Parent Conversation”, by Amy Nathan, for which I was interviewed as a contributor last year.  The book is published by Oxford University Press, and is available through Amazon.com.

I’d like to reproduce here the section on pp. 77-78 which quotes my comments in the context of the Alexander Technique.  This is part of a section called “Injury Watch”, in a chapter called “Finding Teachers”:

“Some music schools offer courses that help students become aware of the physical side of their playing.  Jennifer Roig-Francoli, an instructor at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, teaches a course on Alexander Technique, which aims at lessening body tension.  She offers an unusual suggestion:  ‘One way to prevent overuse is to devote part of practice time to working without the instrument, mentally rehearsing something in your mind.  You’re still practicing, connecting your thoughts to your muscles so that when you pick up your instrument later, it’s   almost as if you had been practicing with the instrument.’

“Here are some additional suggestions from Jennifer Roig-Francoli for signs that might indicate         that a child is not playing in an injury-free manner:

          • Too fast: ‘If a teacher is more interested in a child making rapid progress than in the child’s overall well-being.’
          • Pushing: ‘If the parent and/or teacher push the child to do something the child doesn’t want to do, that will introduce a certain level of stress, which can lead to tension and possible injuries later.’
          • Rigid: If any part of the body is rigid or fixed, even a part that seems to have little to do with playing the instrument, that’s going to affect the rest of the body.  If the knees are locked or feet are in odd positions, that can be a problem.  Be on the lookout for postures that would look unnatural if the instrument were suddenly removed from the picture.'”

I highly recommend this one-of-a-kind book for parents of young musicians; it’s full of great insights and advice for those with the difficult job of gently navigating the musical world with their children.

If you are a parent of a budding young musician, what’s the one thing you have the most difficulty with?  Here’s mine: not being a nag about practicing when my children show no signs of getting out their instrument.  Would love to hear yours!  And this book might have some great solutions for you. Enjoy!

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Alexander Technique, Awareness, children, mental practice, musicians, parents, posture, practice, survival guide

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