Alexander Technique Tuition for Performing Artists of All Levels
Here is where it all started! Frederick Matthias Alexander developed his Technique back in the 1800s because he consistently lost his voice when he was on stage. He was an actor and could find no medical remedy for what was depriving him of his livelihood and passion.
Single-handedly and over ten years, he developed a technique himself which was so effective that not only did it solve his own problems but other actors and singers in a similar position started to come to him for help as well. Subsequently, the medical profession became interested in his work and it was applied to people in all branches of the performing arts and indeed to people with any kind of structural or breathing problem.
Nowadays, Alexander Technique is a fundamental part of training in major drama schools and music and dance academies including RADA, LAMDA, The Guildhall, The Royal Academy of Music, The Royal College of Music, The Birmingham Conservatoire of Music and The Trinity College of Music. It is also central to the training of actors at the Juillard School in New York and ACT in San Francisco.
It doesn't matter whether a performer is professional or an aspiring amateur. The point is that Alexander Technique opens up exciting possibilities for performers, for instance holding an instrument for extended periods often causes discomfort which in turn affects the quality of the sound produced. The same is true when a singer, actor or dancer is unconsciously holding unhelpful patterns of use in their body which will manifest in a performance issue.
Sometimes even when someone's performance is already excellent, there is still more potential to be achieved with Alexander Technique, as people like Olympic skating champion Christopher Dean and actor John Cleese found. Often performers come to Alexander Technique because pain or some kind of restriction in the back, neck, joints, breathing or the voice is stopping them from reaching their potential or is even stopping them from performing altogether. What happens usually is that they are able to reduce or eliminate the discomfort AND improve their performance.
Over the last twenty-odd years, Gail has been especially interested in working with performers of all levels from professional opera singers or jazz musicians to people who are just starting out tentatively to have a go at singing, acting, dancing or playing an instrument.
Gail has a wealth of experience, both in teaching Alexander Technique to performers and also in performing herself.
Gail works through one-to-one sessions with her performer students, which allows her to address each person's needs individually, and she is offering these private sessions for performers of all levels in Northallerton.
What the professionals say about the Alexander Technique:
"Of all the disciplines that form the actor training program, none is more vital, enriching and transformative than the Alexander Technique" - Harold Stone, Associate Director, Theater Department, The Julliard School
"The Alexander Technique is a primary means of supporting both voice and body work in freeing the neck-head relationship, releasing habitual tension and avoiding injury for actors." - Nick Barter, Principal of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London
"The Alexander Technique can be sustaining; it is something that if learned well, can be carried along with you for the rest of your life. It gives you confidence to be who you are when you are up in front of an audience." - Patrick Maddams, Managing Director of the Royal Academy of Music, London
"Alexander students rid themselves of bad postural habits an are helped to reach with their bodies and minds an enviable degree of freedom of expression." - Michael Langham, Director of the Juillard School, New York
"The Alexander Technique makes a real difference to my often tense and busy life. Its thoughtful approach has made me calmer, improved my concentration and given me a clearer sense of my own being. I am grateful for it!" - Joan Bakewell, TV Presenter and Journalist
Comments from some of Gail's students:
"...the students looked and sounded more open. Their movement was freer and developed a lightness and flow which had been lacking in some before. In a few cases there was a radical difference - these were the students who had a tendency to pull down and forward in the neck. Their progress was particularly striking with noticeably more space around the shoulder/neck relationship, open chest area and also greater height.
Their voices were in general more released and confident. The impression was that some had dropped in pitch. Others had developed a wider spectrum, sounded richer and with a more pleasing timbre.Joan Mills, Theatre Director and Fellow in Voice and Performance at Aberystwyth University
"Having seen and participated in Gail's classes, I would unconditionally recommend instrumentalists and singers to attend her courses. In my opinion her work is extremely relevant and valuable for all performers. I noticed it and everyone in the group agreed that not only did Alexander Technique improve people's sound but it also made them more rhythmically secure. This is as well as the personal physical benefits experienced."Trevor Tomkins, Professor of Jazz at the Royal Academy of Music and at the Guildhall School of Music, London
"I got great benefits from Gail's teaching. My ribcage feels much looser and so I have more breath control. This frees my voice to be more expressive and I don't have to take so many breaths plus I can sing longer notes without having so much tension in the voice."Danielle Marsden, Aberystwyth Heartsong Choir
"I find that when I breathe in the way Gail has taught me, there are a number of significant improvements in my playing: the tone is more resonant, 'alive' and even; I can control the tuning and play the second octave key notes without having to tighten my embouchure and spoil the sound; my fingerwork is more fluent; I can play for much longer without tiring; I can play for much longer without needing to breathe; I can tongue more quickly and cleanly; I can express the subtle nuances of the music more effectively; the sound carries better, even at pianissimo."Jane Jarvie, Oboe, Lampeter Chamber Orchestra and Aberystwyth Chamber Orchestra
"After doing the Alexander Technique my dancing felt different in an amazing way! I felt more grounded and yet free-er and lighter at the the same time. I felt as if different parts of me had reconnected and were working together beautifully as nature had designed. I felt whole and able to dance freely connected to the floor, my partner and the music."Francesca Creighton Griffiths, Tango Dancer
For more information and comments about Gail's teaching, please go to the comprehensive 'People's Stories page' page.
Gail Barlow is the Director of Dolphin Alexander Courses, which she set up in 1990 after completing the three-year full-time Alexander Technique Teacher Training Course and qualifying as a Teacher of the F M Alexander Technique.
Gail trained as an Alexander Teacher in the eighties and has now worked with over 2,000 people in the UK and Europe. She is now a very experienced teacher and is able to 'tune in' and work with each person in a method and at a pace uniquely suited to their individual needs.
She is a Member of the Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique (STAT), which was founded in 1958 and is the oldest and largest professional body of Alexander Technique teachers in the world.