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An Alexander Happening

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Sometimes I really wonder about my voice. I don’t know why it’s so high, Atsuko says. Sitting together, eight of us at a Spanish restaurant in Temma, Osaka after a day of study, I notice when Atsuko speaks she looks like a little girl, a cute tilt of the head, sparkling eyes, a happy smile. Who knows, I say. It could be structural. Then again it might not be. What does your voice sound like to you, I ask? It sounds like everyone else’s voice. Just normal, she says.

You know Atsuko, what your voice sounds like really doesn’t matter so much. You’re expressive emotionally, articulate, easy to understand. It’s like your voice is a piccolo, that’s all. When you first hear a piccolo it sounds weird, too high, but then if someone is a good musician they can make beautiful music with that little instrument.

I’m wondering why, to you, your voice sounds like everyone’s else’s. If you hear your voice as the same as everyone else’s voice, you’d have little impulse to change it.  Alexander said, The hardest things to change are the things that don’t exist. Atstuko looks puzzled. You see, your high voice doesn’t exist for you. As far as your ears are concerned, you don’t have a high voice.

Atsuko, sing for me. Sing some little song you like. Without any hesitation, the sparkling red wine having loosened everyone up, Atsuko begins singing Sukiyaki, Ue o Muite Arukou. Astuko, do you know a song that has a fuller range, some lower notes. Mari, sitting next to her, begins singing a song I don’t recognize. Astuko knows it and joins in. Without effort she drops down into the lower notes. Do you hear that Atsuko? She looks surprised and nods yes. Sing it again. She does. There it is again! Did you feel that? That may be your real voice, what your voice sounds like when you’re not holding it up.

We were all relaxing, eating Japanese tasting tapas with chopsticks. The sparkling red wine the restaurant had given us for free to lure us in was now finished and beer mugs had mysterious appeard in front of everyone. I went no further, as captivated as I was by Atsuko’s changing voice. Class was over, but in class I had told several stories of spontaneous Alexander lessons happening to me, when with my teachers, outside of class.

There you go you guys, I said lifting my beer mug.  An Alexander happening. A Bruce story. Whatever. When the moment’s right, use it, pass it on.

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Eileen Troberman, my cohort when in teacher training class, had a really high voice that descended into a much different register when she undid her habits. Now she speaks in the lower voice all the time. I think some of us women believe that since we are women, we should have high voices. It’s part of our social identity.
    What changed about my voice during the study of A.T. was I had been keeping one side of it closed down on the inside of my throat. I could hear the difference when I undid that side of my neck on the inside by directing, but I couldn’t feel it! Using singing also worked for me to undo this extra tension, which was really part of my neck. I also realized that I was keeping my tongue tensed up unnecessarily. Then I realized that I assumed I had to hold up my head with my throat! …Wow, the strange assumptions we get about how we’re shaped are pretty global, but when we drop them – what freedom!
    I think that changing our mannerisms of speech is one of the best avenues toward faster education in A.T.

    January 14, 2015

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