About Music

The Alexander Technique

one of the few schools that offer Alexander lessons for credit
Quinn Radziszewski (Class of 2010) learns that spine support is very important for horn playing.
Quinn Radziszewski (Class of 2010) learns that spine support is very important for horn playing.

Since 2001, Denison University has been among a growing number of trend setting universities and institutions of higher education around the world offering study of The Alexander Technique.  This list includes The Juilliard School in New York City and the Royal Academy of Music in London.  Typically found in Fine Arts departments, the Alexander Technique classes at Denison are offered through the Music Department and are open to students from any discipline, with priority given to music majors and minors. Denison is one of the few schools that also offer individual Alexander lessons for credit.

What is The Alexander Technique?

The Alexander Technique is a widely recognized educational method for improving balance, alignment, ease, flexibility and energy.  The Technique offers us insight into the underlying principles that govern human movement.  When applied, these principles guide us to a dynamic experience of kinesthetic lightness, wherein thinking becomes clearer, feeling accessible, sensations livelier, and movement more pleasurable.  Within this fluid, more conscious condition, we find our actions and interactions strengthened and refined, our sense of time expanded, and our rapport with the environment restored.

Alexander Who?!

More than 100 years ago, an Australian actor named F. M. Alexander discovered that his performance was being unduly influenced by the poor quality of his thinking and by the less then optimal condition of his head, neck, and back coordination.  By learning how to “unlearn” harmful habits of thinking and moving, he was able to improve his performance to such a degree that people from all walks of life sought him out for lessons.  He eventually moved to London, England where he taught, wrote books on his Technique and developed a methodology for passing on The Alexander Technique via future generations of well trained teachers.  Teacher training involves a minimum of three years of study.

Benefits

Those who faithfully practice the Technique usually experience a general increase in good health.  More specifically, students regularly report:

  • More ease and fluidity in movement
  • Fewer headaches, reduced stiffness in neck, and shoulders
  • Better sleep
  • More efficient studying
  • Reduced performance anxiety
  • More comfort at the computer for long periods of time
  • Resolution of RSI, TMJ pain, and Carpel Tunnel Syndrome
  • Actors, athletes, dancers, and musicians experience more of their full potential in performance
  • Just to name a few!
Learning Options
Students are advised to do a few minutes of Constructive Rest every day to "come to their senses," let go of accumulated neck tension and stress, open their mind, and free their breathing.
Students are advised to do a few minutes of Constructive Rest every day to "come to their senses," let go of accumulated neck tension and stress, open their mind, and free their breathing.

The Alexander Technique at Denison is offered in group classes (Alexander Technique Workshop) and individual lessons.

  • Alexander Technique Workshop - MUSP 124.01/02/03
  • Alex Tech Private Lessons - MUSP 125.01 (1 credit), MUSP 225.02 (2 credits)

The main difference between the workshop and individual lessons is that during individual lessons the student receives more personal attention and more "hands-on" guidance involving movement and thinking re-education. Individual lessons are scheduled at the mutual convenience of the student and instructor.

Many students take the workshop and/or individual lessons for multiple semesters.  This is encouraged, but not required.  Four semesters of individual lessons fulfills a Fine Arts GE requirement.  A combination of individual lessons and the workshop over four semesters might qualify to fulfill a GE requirement via petition.  For more information, consult with the Registrar's Office.

A variety of activities are explored in class.  Among them:

  • How to sit and stand more comfortably
  • Walking and running with more ease and less pain
  • Performance and presentation practice
  • Sleep Constellations: a practical strategy to sleep more restfully
  • Simple, practical anatomy for better breathing, speaking, and singing
  • How to use “free won’t” as a means to better life choices
  • How to Rise to the Occasion and mean it!
  • Constructive Rest (“It’s better than a nap!”)

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON REGISTERING FOR THESE Classes or Workshops, PLEASE VISIT MUSIC ON MYDENISON

The Instructor
David Nesmith, Instructor of Horn and The Alexander Technique
David Nesmith, Instructor of Horn and The Alexander Technique

David Nesmith is an Affiliated Instructor of the horn and The Alexander Technique in the Music Department at Denison University.  He is a certified member of Alexander Technique International and a licensed Andover Educator, an organization of musicians teaching the art of movement in music.  His specialty is performance enhancement and injury prevention.

As a performing musician, David is a member of the St. Joseph Cathedral Brass (Columbus), the New Hampshire Music Festival, and the West Virginia Symphony.  He earned music performance degrees from Capital University (BM) and Indiana University (MM).

David is the author of The Breathing Book for Horn (Mountain Peak Music, 2011) and the creator of Constructive Rest: The Audio Guide Series (SmartPoise Productions, 2011-2013).  In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, backpacking, and mambo dancing.

In Their Own Words: Final Reflection Excerpts