Young Musician Of The Year Praises Alexander Technique

Teenage cellist Laura van der Heijden won this year's BBC Young Musician contest - with the help of the Alexander Technique.

The 15-year-old practises the Technique and says it helped with her performance in the prestigious competition in which she excelled playing Sir William Walton's Cello Concerto.

Laura, from Sussex, is not alone in benefiting from the Alexander Technique as a performer. It is taught at all the major music and drama colleges throughout the UK and worldwide, helping performers improve stamina, increase clarity of perception, free up spontaneity and manage stage fright.

Improved self-awareness allows them to get rid of poor habits and develop a wider repertoire of skills to deliver the best performance possible.

Angela East is a professional cellist and Alexander Technique teacher who works with a number of musicians. "The Alexander Technique is a practical and problem-solving method of re-educating the way we use ourselves," explains Angela, a member of the Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique.

"It is a standard part of training in world-class music and drama schools and is also applied at the highest levels of sport. Athletes and performers use it to optimise their skills and stage presence, avoid injury and control stress and anxiety."

Louise Danmeri, a cellist and one of Angela's pupils, says: "For many years I suffered from tension while playing, particularly in my bowing arm and shoulder. This tension not only caused me pain but was also having a detrimental effect upon my playing.

"The Alexander Technique has helped me reassess not only how I use my arm and shoulder, but my whole body. It has made me realise how interconnected the various parts of the body are and has given me an understanding of how by unconsciously misusing one part of the body you can have a negative impact upon a different part of the body.

"My tension problems and playing have certainly improved as a result of my Alexander Technique lessons."

Performers seeking to benefit from the Alexander Technique can find a teacher near them by going to their website. Tel. 020 7482 5135.