On February 13, Dr. Barbara Hudson, music department chair of Snead State Community College and certified Alexander technique teacher, gave a workshop in the Alexander technique: a system of self-care that prevents the damages of stress.
The Alexander technique has been used to relieve people with various health issues, including migraines and breathing difficulties. The technique’s main goal is to relax the individual to a state of “perfect balance.”
Though the technique is primarily targeted towards musicians and actors, the overall benefits can be used by anyone.
The workshop is part of the 2015-2016 Foothills Piano Festival, a free festival spanning over the fall and spring semesters. Usually the events for the festival are piano recitals, but Dr. Wendy Freeland, JSU music professor of piano, wanted a change.
Freeland said, “The piano festival has been going on since 2007. I wanted a change of events, so it wasn’t just performances where people could only sit and listen, so I thought the Alexander technique would be perfect for all the musicians here.”
The day started off at 10 a.m. in the performance center of Mason Hall. Hudson’s presentation was accompanied with a PowerPoint to show specific locations of common areas that stress affects. During the powerpoint presentation, Hudson began allowing volunteers to come in front of the forty-person crowd to perform the actual technique on them.
Hudson massaged specific points on the neck and shoulders, and told the volunteer to relax and imagine their head directly on top of the spine.
One of those volunteers was JSU junior and clarinet player, Shelby Hudgins. Hudson said, “I feel like my shoulders are really more open than before. I also feel a difference in my breathing.”
Another volunteer was JSU percussionist, Latrice Green. Green raced to the front of the crowd when Hudson asked for another volunteer. Though Green is a percussionist and does not rely on her breathing to play her instruments, Green claimed to feel less tension in the upper-back, which can only help her relax during performances.
Hudson continued performing the techniques on willing individuals during the latter portion of the workshop and using pictures and a mock skeleton to teach the attendees about the technique.