Open Collections

UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Applying Alexander Technique in the high school choral rehearsal Parent, Karen Augusta 2007

Your browser doesn't seem to have a PDF viewer, please download the PDF to view this item.

Notice for Google Chrome users:
If you are having trouble viewing or searching the PDF with Google Chrome, please download it here instead.

Item Metadata


831-ubc_2007-0547.pdf [ 4.54MB ]
JSON: 831-1.0055079.json
JSON-LD: 831-1.0055079-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): 831-1.0055079-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: 831-1.0055079-rdf.json
Turtle: 831-1.0055079-turtle.txt
N-Triples: 831-1.0055079-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: 831-1.0055079-source.json
Full Text

Full Text

A P P L Y I N G A L E X A N D E R T E C H N I Q U E IN T H E H IGH S C H O O L C H O R A L R E H E A R S A L by K A R E N A U G U S T A P A R E N T B. Mus. , The University of British Co lumb ia , 1983 B. E d . , The University of British Co lumb ia , 1999 A T H E S I S S U B M I T T E D IN P A R T I A L F U L F I L L M E N T O F T H E R E Q U I R E M E N T S F O R T H E D E G R E E O F M A S T E R O F A R T S in T H E F A C U L T Y O F G R A D U A T E S T U D I E S (Music Educat ion) T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F BRIT ISH C O L U M B I A Augus t 2007 © Karen Augus ta Parent, 2007 A B S T R A C T Developing healthy and coordinated voca l technique in adolescent s ingers is central to choral pedagogy. A singer 's instrument is her body, and researchers of vocal pedagogy have increasingly explored the whole system's coordinated use in singing through bodymind awareness approaches such as A lexander Techn ique (AT). T h e purpose of my research was to examine the application of A lexander Techn ique in a high school choral setting to understand how a p rocess of A T lessons in choral rehearsal may benefit students' vocal skil ls. Specif ical ly, I investigated students' exper iences of posture, breathing, and tone production through this process. I a lso explored, how students ' understanding of A lexander Techn ique principles evolved over the study period. I employed an instrumental case study method to explore the vocal exper iences of students in my senior concert choir for eight rehearsals over a period of six weeks . Al l 58 students participated in approximately twenty minutes of A lexander Techn ique instruction at the beginning of each rehearsal during the study period. Eight student respondents wrote weekly journals and four of these respondents participated in semi -structured individual interviews at beginning, mid, and end points of the study. I wrote observat ional notes on each rehearsal and on v ideotaped rehearsals at the beginning and end of the study. Categor ica l and descript ive analys is of the data formed the basis of a chronological narrative of the f indings for the choir and for two students. Through the process of A lexander Techn ique lessons in choral rehearsals students reported increased kinesthetic awareness and direction in their head-neck-back relationship, which al lowed for a re lease of straining tensions in their jaw, neck, back, and abdominal areas, increased their breath capacity, and facilitated greater e a s e in sound production, a lso increasing their sensat ions of tonal resonance. Students ' exper ience of benefits s e e m e d to correspond with their level of appl icat ion and understanding of A lexander principles over the s ix-week study. Benefi ts to the choir 's posture and sound were most consistently evident in voca l warm-ups. Implications for choral teaching include increasing the recall of kinesthetic awareness during rehearsals and applying A lexander principles throughout the year. Cult ivation of student attention to their singing habits through reflective journaling and a choral teacher 's development of her own kinesthetic awareness of sel f -use are a lso suggested. T A B L E OF CONTENTS Abstract Table of Contents iii List of Illustrations v Acknowledgements vi 1 Introduction 1 1.1 Chora l educat ion for the whole singer 1 1.2 N e e d for the study 3 1.3 Purpose of the study 3 1.4 Definition of terms 4 2 Review of Related Literature 6 2.1 Respirat ion and phonation 7 2.2 Tens ion in respiration and phonation 11 2.3 Posture 14 2.4 Somat ic pedagogy 15 2.5 The A lexander Techn ique 16 2.6 The A lexander Techn ique in vocal and choral literature 19 2.7 Summary 21 3 Methodology 23 3.1 Instrumental case study 23 3.2 Sett ing 24 3.3 Ethics 26 3.4 Cho i ce of respondents 26 3.5 Instructional procedures 27 3.6 Data collection 29 3.7 Ana lys is 31 3.8 Validity and reliability 32 4 Findings 34 4.1 The choir 34 4.1.1 Restor ing awareness 34 4.1.2 "The rock blocking that whole breath" 38 4.1.3 " S o little effort" 41 4.1.4 "Much more power and energy" 45 4.1.5 Accumulat ing attention 48 4.1.6 "Everything is interconnected" 54 4.2 Rev iew and preview 58 4.3 Jul ia 58 4.3.1 "More energ ized" 60 4.3.2 "Not iceable improvement". . . . 61 4.3.3 "Open up" 62 4.3.4 "Take the time to think about your body" 64 4.3.5 Summary 66 4.4 Kevan 67 4.4.1 "L ike a sculpture" 68 4.4.2 "The note just c o m e s " 69 4.4.3 "A full circle" 72 4.4.4 Summary 74 5 S u m m a r y 75 5.1 Posture 76 5.2 Breathing 78 5.3 Tone production 79 5.4 Understanding of A lexander Techn ique principles 80 5.5 D iscuss ion and implications for choral teaching 81 5.5.1 F rom misuse to good use 82 5.5.2 The process of awareness 84 R e f e r e n c e s 86 A p p e n d i c e s 91 Append ix A Consen t forms 91 Append ix B Interview and journal quest ions 96 Append ix C U B C research ethics approval 102 LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS Illustration 1.1 Monkey posit ion: Deep . . . . 5 Illustration 1.2 Monkey posit ion: Shal low 5 v A C K N O W L E D G E M E N T S I would like to deeply thank Dr. Gabr ie l la Minnes Brandes for sharing her expert ise in A lexander Techn ique with my choral students, and for inspiring me with her pass ion for the f reedom it brings to movement for music ians. Her participation in this project has been instrumental. I owe grateful thanks to Dr. Scott Gob le , my research supervisor, for his consistent gu idance, excel lent attention to detail, and positive support. Thank you a lso to Dr. Peter G o u z o u a s i s and Dr. Car l Leggo, my thesis committee members , for their thoughtful reading and response. Spec ia l thanks go to Sandra Head for her ski l led contribution to this project. I am a lso very thankful to my co l leagues in choral and voice educat ion Rosemary Bel l and Caro le Davis, who generously offered instructive comments . Thank you to the students in my choir whose contribution to and perceptive participation in their own journeys of voca l d iscovery through this study created new understanding in voice educat ion for me. Thanks to my husband, J a s o n Dionne, for his unwavering support and for our many hours of conversat ion on awareness . vi 1 INTRODUCTION 1 . 1 Choral education for the whole singer Developing healthy and coordinated voca l technique in adolescent s ingers is central to choral pedagogy (Phil l ips, 2004; Smith & Sataloff, 2000). Foundat ional voca l technique involves attention to postural s tance, coordination of thoracic and laryngeal musc le use for efficient management of breath and production of tone, and facilitation of resonance throughout the registers of the vo ice through skil l building voca l ises (Miller, 1986; Vennard , 1968). A singer 's instrument is her body, and vocal pedagog ies are increasingly address ing the importance of the whole system's coordinated use in singing through inclusive kinesthetic or bodymind approaches such as A lexander Techn ique (Bunch, 2004; Heir ich, 2005; Hudson , 2002; W e i s s , 2005), Body Mapp ing (Conable, 1998, 2000; Jordan , 2005 ; Buchanan , 2005), Feldenkra is (Nelson & Blades-Zel ler , 2002), Y o g a (Carman, 2004), and T'ai Ch i (Rao, 2005). Healthy voca l skill development in adolescent choral vo ices through increased bodymind awareness is my interest, specif ical ly how A lexander Techn ique lessons may facilitate this. The present study investigates how a process of A lexander Techn ique lessons in a high schoo l choral rehearsal may benefit student voca l skil ls. Phil l ips (2000) descr ibes mus ic educat ion as whole-brain learning that involves a student 's cognitive, psycho-motor, affective, and kinesthetic domains, and he notes that s ingers ' "kinesthetic feeling for tone production has much to do with success fu l s inging" (p. 222). Further, the authors of the comprehens ive Bodymind & Voice: Foundations of Voice Education (Thurman & W e l c h , 2000) d iscuss body •1 al ignment as the most fundamental voice skil l. Jordan (1996, 2005) advocates the use of A lexander Techn ique for choral conductors and its related Body Mapping approach to physical awareness in the choral c lass room. H e states: "The incorporation of this principle profoundly changes the pedagogica l depth of the warm-up process and the entire direction of the choral warm-up" (2005, p. 41). Unnecessary tension in vocal iz ing is a primary concern in the development of a healthy technique (Deeter, 2005, Ohrenste in, 1999). Smith & Sataloff (2000) list four bas ic e lements for a choral warm-up, the first of which is relaxation, fol lowed by posture, breathing, and resonance. The use of movement to facilitate vocal skil ls in choral rehearsal has been previously studied (Con, 2002; C h a g n o n , 2001 ; Hibbard, 1994; W is , 1993). Chagnon (2001) descr ibed the use of gestural metaphor and kinesthetic exper ience in voca l learning in the work of f ive choral conductors. O n e noted choral conductor, Rodney Eichenberger , deve loped movement work with choirs because of a d iscovery of tension in his voice and the effect on s ingers of tension in his body as he conducted, leading him to explore the use of movement to re lease choral vo ices from unnecessary tension (Con, 2002). Kinesthet ic awareness techniques such as A lexander Techn ique (AT) or Feldenkra is are systemat ic approaches in somat ic educat ion. T h e s e techniques foster s ingers ' accurate percept ions of sensat ion and re lease of unnecessary tension in movement and postural habits that restrict their f reedom of breathing and tone production. Literature on the connect ion of A lexander Techn ique to singing is growing, while literature exploring its application in choral work is only beginning to emerge. Jordan (2005) has appl ied Body Mapping, a related A lexander Techn ique, 2 in the choral warm-up, and he has descr ibed its re levance to healthy voca l development. Conab le ' s (2000) Body Mapping primer for choirs on the structures of breathing includes illustrations to aid s ingers in dist inguishing musc le groups involved in the dynamic sensat ions of coordinated technique. 1.2 Need for the study Phil l ips (2004) states emphatical ly that choral teachers should be studying voice as part of their preparation to teach choral singing (p. 222). Smith & Sataloff (2000) adv ise that choral conductors should become familiar with the latest concepts around voice (p. 34). Not all choir directors address voice development, however, though its importance is c lear (Swan in Decker & Herford, 1988; Col l ins, 1999). V o c a l pedagogy is moving into a new era of bodymind awareness where today's voice teachers and choral directors must "take responsibil i ty for developing their own kinesthetic awareness in order to guide their students effectively" (Nelson & B lades -Zeller, 2002, p. 12). A study descr ib ing the voca l benefits exper ienced by choral s ingers as they learn to apply A lexander Techn ique principles in a rehearsal setting is needed to. inform choral educators of the potential pedagogical benefits of such instruction for their own students. 1.3 Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study was to examine the application of the A lexander Techn ique in a high schoo l choral setting to understand how a process of A T 3 l essons in choral rehearsal may benefit adolescent voca l skil ls. My central research quest ion was : What are students' exper iences of voca l development as they progress through a process of A lexander Techn ique l essons? Specif ical ly, how do students descr ibe their exper iences of posture, breathing, and tone production through this p rocess? A l so , what understanding of A T principles do students have after undergoing this p rocess? 1 . 4 Definition of Terms Alexander Technique: an educat ional process of bringing proprioception (see kinesthetic awareness) into consc iousness and providing speci f ic tools to identify and change habitual responses to stimuli AT principles (see a lso Chapter 2): 1. Work ing Unity of the Self: no separat ion of mental and physical p rocesses in activity; the use of the whole self 2. Faulty Sensory A w a r e n e s s (unreliable sensory appreciat ion): habits of use that are often unconsc ious weaken the kinesthetic sense , limiting awareness 3. U s e and Funct ioning: use has an impact on function and vice versa , habits of use affect performance or functioning 4. Inhibition (non-doing): to stop a habitual response a. End-gain ing: priority given to end results and not to the p rocess of achieving them b. Means-whereby: priority given to p rocess , specif ical ly awareness of the ways in which a task is approached and executed 5. The Primary Control : a dynamic relationship between the head-neck-back, which serves as an organizing principle a. Direction: thinking in activity; linking a "mental command , a tangible physical reality, and a sensor ia l feedback" (De Alcantara, 1997, p.60) The primary directions: Let the neck be free, To let the head go forward and up, To let the back lengthen and widen A L L T O G E T H E R , O N E A F T E R T H E O T H E R . (DeAlcantara, 1997, p. 160) 4 Diaphragmatic-Costal Breath Management: the consc ious control of musc les that act upon the d iaphragm, abdomen, and r ibcage through the breath cycle Hands-on guidance: A lexander teachers ' light p lacement of hands on a student's neck, shoulders, and back with cont inuous attention to the quality of stiffness or sof tness in the musc les , as well as attention to the student's thinking, while guiding her or him through s imple activities Kinesthetic awareness or proprioception: a sixth s e n s e that monitors body posit ion, weight, and movement of musc les , tendons, and joints Monkey position 1.1 Deep 1.2 Shallow 2 REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE V o c a l sound production is a coordination of respiration (involving posture and breathing), and phonation (tone production and resonance) . The literature in voca l pedagogy focuses on developing and training muscular p rocesses , while somat ic voca l educat ion add resses the coordination of mind and body in movement . Thurman & We lch (2000) argue that mind and body have been separate in educat ional practice, and they passionately advocate a comprehens ive vo ice educat ion program based on establ ished scientif ic ev idence that shows we are an inseparable intermeshing of psychophys ica l p rocesses : a "bodymind." The unity of our neuropsychobio logical p rocesses "produce[s] what we refer to general ly as mind . . . that is, percept ions, feeling states, concept ions, images, reasoning, linguistic labels and interpretative descript ions, and coordinated purposeful movements" (Thurman & W e l c h , 2000, p. 87). The literature connect ing body and mind in somat ic educat ion for voice began with the empir ical work of F. M. A lexander . Inquiring into the source of his own vocal production problems, A lexander pioneered a somat ic approach known a s the A lexander Techn ique that is a cooperat ion between the consc ious will and the unconsc ious reflex (Alexander, 1932/1985). The technique is now taught internationally in mus ic schoo ls such as the Juil l iard Schoo l of Performing Arts in N e w York, the Roya l Co l lege of Mus ic in London, the Roya l Conservatory of Mus ic in Toronto, and Gui ldhal l Schoo l of Mus ic and Drama in London. A Goog le search on A lexander Techn ique in mus ic schoo ls in June of 2007 netted 1,720,000 results. Much has been written on the application of the technique 6 for dancers , actors, instrumentalists, and singers, while publications on its re levance to choral music ians are only beginning to emerge. Examin ing the application of A lexander Techn ique in the choral c lassroom s e e m s necessary and timely. In this chapter, I will situate the concerns of this study in a review of literature related to voca l technique, beginning with literature on breathing and postural aspec ts of voca l sound production. I will include views on tension in singing then d iscuss literature on somat ic educat ion, specif ical ly Feldenkrais and Body Mapp ing . Finally, I will give an introduction to F. M. A lexander , the A lexander Techn ique, and review literature on A T related to singing and choral pedagogy. 2.1 Respiration and phonation A wide variety of terminology and many divergent approaches have been appl ied to breathing for singing (Freed, 1994; B lades-Zel ler , 2002). In a survey study, Mil ler (1997) examined voca l pedagogies in Eng land, France, Germany , and Italy in relation to their tonal ideals. He d iscovered a lack of agreement on how to approach breath management (p. 20). However, schoo ls in all four countr ies identify three methods of breath support: clavicular, costal and diaphragmat ic (p. 16). The G e r m a n and Engl ish approaches focus on the lower trunk or upper thorax, respectively, with notions of contraction, fixing, pressing, and maintaining posi t ions to ach ieve control of the breath cyc le for singing. The French schoo l employs the least overt management . The Italian school approaches breathing as an integrated system of coordination balancing sterno-costal-diaphragmatic musculature and 7 laryngeal configuration in the connect ion of breath to tone. The Italian method, appoggio, has had predominant inf luence in North Amer i can voice pedagogy and has been systematical ly expl icated by Miller (1986, 2004). Training in the technique through physiological understanding and practical vocal exerc ises is the aim of his pedagogy (1986). What is taught in the private voice studio finds its way into the choral c lass via the teacher-conductor 's exper ience of training in these methods. S w a n (1988) d i scussed the importance of developing technique in choral s ingers. He del ineated six schoo ls of choral singing in Amer i ca , only three of which emphas ize the importance of vocal exerc ises in warm up to develop "support and breath control" to ach ieve their tonal objective (p. 44). O n e schoo l employs a mechanist ic approach through skill drills, practicing "maximum effort from the musc les used in singing" (p. 32) and "consc ious controls to loosen" the jaw and tongue (p. 50). Smith and Sataloff (2003) have also suggested it is the conductor 's responsibil i ty to teach good concepts of vocal technique through warm up in rehearsal (p. 10). Their choral pedagogy text (2000) covers the physiology of the voice, expla ins the function of the brain in voice production, and gives a detai led rationale for voice building. S ince the average choral s inger has "little recognit ion of habitual speech faults, breath flow, or articulatory tensions," they have recommended warm ups for relaxation, posture, breathing, and then resonance (p. 109). "At the mere mention of breath management , untrained singers tend to tighten the abdominal musc les , lock the knees, and restrict the flow of air" (p. 116). Their 8 approach recognizes the need to address a "releasing" of the body and the breath rather than a "holding" orientation (p. 116). Investigators studying breathing behavior in s ingers have found differing results with respect to technique and concepts of support. Griffin et al . (1995) sought to develop an objective definition of breath support based on their descript ive study of physiological character ist ics of supported and unsupported singing voice. Objective measurements were compared with subjects' concepts of supported voice. Quest ionnaire responses revealed that s ingers ' concepts of support were descr ibed only in terms of breath management and its attendant musc le activity. However, ana lyses of the respitrace data (which measures chest and abdomen displacement) in this study showed no significant dif ferences between unsupported and supported breathing patterns, leading the investigators to quest ion, "If s ingers are not using the mechan isms they think they are to produce a supported voice, why do voice teachers spend so much time teaching speci f ic breathing techn iques?" (p. 54). They conc luded that changes in laryngeal and glottal configurations played an important role in supported voice. The pedagogica l focus, however, s e e m s to have been on training of breathing musculature. Phil l ips (2004) argued that students can change their mode of breathing from high and shal low to low and deep with instruction (p. 229). The development of breathing technique and its relation to breathy voice quality was the subject of Phil l ips' (1992) descript ive study. He investigated the chest- thoracic and abdominal -diaphragmatic breathing patterns and the vocal quality of fifteen-year-old girls in a high schoo l chorus. Their teacher rehearsed them daily with instruction in voca l 9 technique, including abdominal-d iaphragmat ic breath management . S e v e n months into the schoo l year, Phil l ips conducted his study of 40 students. A significant difference was found in favor of abdominal-d iaphragmat ic breathing, whereas the mean score for all subjects' vocal quality indicated a "fair" amount of breathiness. Phi l l ips suggested these results show that though the students demonstrated proper musc le movement and posture, they were exper iencing the effects of a maturational aspect of the vocal folds. This is possib le, but doesn' t s e e m conclus ive. The development of tone quality is a concern in voca l learning and is relevant to the sound of a choir. High schoo l choral directors should perhaps be including more than breath management skil ls in their teaching. Resul ts from a five and a half month experimental study of the effect of skil ls instruction on adolescent female vo ices showed that the voca l performance and breath management skil ls of the students improved (Fett, 1993). In each choral c lass of the study, a seven-to-ten minute warm up included skil ls instruction in "proper respiration (posture and breathing), phonation, and resonance for s inging" (pp. 59-60). V o c a l performance improvements included less breathiness in tone quality, increased vocal range, and longer tonal duration. Forty-five ninth-grade girls in treatment (n=24) and control (n=21) groups received a voca l warm-up in e a c h rehearsal over 22 weeks . Three aspects of respiration and four voca l performance measures were investigated. A statistically significant difference in favor of the treatment group for two measures of breathing (abdominal d isplacement, vital capacity) and three measures of vocal performance (tone quality by computer analys is , pitch range, and tonal duration) were found. Interestingly, no significant 10 d i f f e r e n c e b e t w e e n g r o u p s w a s d e t e r m i n e d fo r t o n e qua l i t y a c c o r d i n g to a n aud i t o r y p e r c e p t i o n m e a s u r e . C h o r a l t e a c h e r s , h o w e v e r , e m p l o y aud i t o r y p e r c e p t i o n in bu i l d ing c h o r a l s o u n d . T h i s s t u d y s u g g e s t s that w h i l e sk i l l s in r esp i ra t i on a n d p h o n a t i o n c a n b e d e v e l o p e d , c h o r a l d i r ec to r s o f y o u n g s i n g e r s m a y not h e a r m u c h c h a n g e in the i r t o n e qua l i t y . W h i l e h a b i t s of m u s c u l a r c o o r d i n a t i o n to con t ro l t he b r e a t h i n g c y c l e a n d p h o n a t i o n in s i n g i n g c a n b e f o r m e d , v o c a l qua l i t y m a y o r m a y not b e i m p r o v e d . S i n g e r s ' c o n c e p t s of s u p p o r t m a y not c o r r e s p o n d f ac tua l l y wi th t he p h y s i o l o g i c a l p r o c e s s e s , s p e c i f i c a l l y r e g a r d i n g t h e p o s i t i o n i n g o f t he l a r ynx in p h o n a t i o n . 2.2 Tension in respiration and phonation D e e t e r ( 2005 ) r e c o g n i z e d the n e e d for s i n g e r s to ident i fy a n d " d i a g n o s e " c a u s e s of e x c e s s i v e t e n s i o n . " D e v e l o p i n g a n a w a r e n e s s of k i n e s t h e s i a - t he s e n s e that d e t e c t s b o d i l y p o s i t i o n , we igh t , a n d m o v e m e n t of t he m u s c l e s , t e n d o n s , a n d jo in ts - is impor tan t in a s s u m i n g a b a l a n c e d , t e n s i o n - f r e e i ns t rumen t " (p. 2 9 ) . S h e o b s e r v e d that m u s c l e c o m p e n s a t i o n a n d o v e r u s e in t he n e c k , a b d o m e n , a n d b a c k c a n c r e a t e h o a r s e n e s s , b r e a t h i n e s s in t o n e , l o s s o f f o c u s , p a i n w h i l e s i n g i n g , o r inabi l i ty to s i n g l o n g p h r a s e s . O h r e n s t e i n ( 1999 ) o b s e r v e d in h e r e x p e r i e n c e of s i n g i n g a n d that of h e r s t u d e n t s that s u b t l e t i e s of m o v e m e n t c a n e l u d e p e r c e p t i o n : O v e r t ime , w i th m a n y repe t i t i ons of t h e s e s a m e m u s c u l a r pa t t e rns , t he s i n g e r is n o l o n g e r a w a r e of t h e m . T h e t e n s i o n i n v o l v e d is not p e r c e i v e d , but ra ther the effort ful p r o p r i o c e p t i v e m u s c u l a r f e e d b a c k is a s s o c i a t e d w i th t he s i n g e r ' s c o n c e p t of ' g o o d ' a n d ' cor rec t ' s i n g i n g . In fac t , h o w e v e r , the m u s c l e s a r e g r a d u a l l y b e c o m i n g m o r e stiff, l o s i n g the i r f lex ib i l i ty a n d i n d e p e n d e n c e o f m o t i o n " (p. 2 4 ) . 11 Through a process of A lexander Techn ique and Feldenkrais, Ohrenstein deve loped new awareness and healthier vocal coordinations. Habitual movements can induce detrimental tension in vocal iz ing. The muscular and vocal coordination we strive to teach choral s ingers may contribute to unnecessary tensions. The breath pressure concept of vocal support, Re id (1983) contends, can create unnecessary tensions, and "effortful, rather than natural, free vocal izat ion" (p. 41). G . B . Lampert i (1840-1910) adv ises the singer to " re lease the compressed breath to start your tone, do not push or pull muscular ly" (Brown, 1973, p. 46). The re lease of "expiratory tension (not by muscu lar effort, but by letting breath re lease itself)" is fundamental to healthy vocal ecology, growing into an exper ience of s inging based on stimulation of natural ref lexes rather than practicing learned responses (Reid, 1992, p. 167). Training, in this holistic sense , is not to gain control over the breathing musc les , but to "free these sys tems s o that they respond to the dynamics of an environment" (Reid, 1992, p. 193). A n appropriate and efficient use of the musc les is an aim of the A lexander Techn ique. Drawing from Reid (1982), A lexander Technique, theology, psychology, mus ic therapy literature, and bodywork to understand voca l exper iences, Dosso (2004) examined breathing for singing holistically. Dosso ' s c a s e study explored a therapeutic p rocess of freeing the voice through connect ion to one 's breath in singing. The voca l exper iences of the subject, her master c lass students, and the author involved varying degrees of vocal tension. Themat ic analys is revealed that s h a m e was a strong force of resistance to breath and body awareness and that breath re lease was instrumental in counteracting tension (p. 266). "The way we 12 breathe inf luences how we feel, and what we feel has a direct effect on how we breathe" (Austin, 2001 , quoted in Dosso , p. 133). Dosso conc luded that f reedom in vocal technique was adversely affected by habits of "holding" breath and distrust of self and/or vo ice teacher. Acqu i red habits of mind and musc le can inhibit the instinctual connect ion of emotion and breath from which the voice draws basic energy, according to Linklater (1976). "As long as we are emotional ly protective, our breathing cannot be free. A s long as breath is not free, the voice will depend on compensat ing strength in the throat and mouth musc les" (p. 12). Her injunction to "observe without controll ing" (p. 25) and to al low sensit ive involuntary p rocesses to take over is inf luenced by her exper ience with A lexander Techn ique principles (p.4). Movement in choral singing has been used to address tension in voca l production, to improve vocal coordinat ion, and to enhance musicality. Chagnon ' s (2001) collective c a s e study reported on the movement methodologies of five choral conductors. Chagnon observed the work of three conductors and examined the previous studies of W i s (1993) and Hibbard (1994) on the kinetic work of two choral conductors. Chagnon compared findings and created a database of movements . O n e methodology for movement addressed the development of vocal skil ls, including breath management , posture, breath energy, releasing of body tension, and enhanc ing of voca l f reedom. Movements while singing were employed such a s circling hands and arms, throwing and tossing gestures, lifting arms, pressing forearms, hooking fingers, shaking legs/hips, running on the spot, and shoulder chops. S u c h activities were used to establ ish a felt, kinesthetic memory of the voca l 13 concept being taught. Cho i ce of movement was made on the basis of the conductor 's auditory perception of vocal production problems in the sound. Five of six s ingers interviewed at one site bel ieved these movements helped their singing technique and awareness . O n e expressed the view that "singing can't be a pass ive act, and movement reinforces good breathing," and another student observed, "movement makes me really have to be present" (p. 40). Gesture and whole body movement were found to modify musical e lements, improve vocal and ensemble skil ls, and heighten concentrat ion. O n e of the most commonly used movements in the work of one conductor was "circles" in which s ingers make circular hand movements at the belt line, in toward the center of the body, and up. This was found to create "solid breath support" and to "connect the breathing apparatus to the voca l mechan ism" (Con , 2002, p. 55). This is possibly due to an increased engagement of the musc les of the torso and the image of breath movement in the circling gesture. Kinesthet ic exper iences and awareness for s ingers enhance voice skil ls and can serve in the development of healthier vocal iz ing. 2.3 Posture In The Functional Unity of the Singing Voice, Doscher (1994) states: "Posture, breathing, and phonation form a complex system of balancing mechan isms. Posture, though, determines all subsequent muscular act ion" (p. 57). R ichard Miller descr ibes the postural s tance for singing as striving to "maintain the inhalatory pose" as in the Italian appoggio technique tradition (1986), or as "axial" and "noble" (2004). Vennard (1968) adv ises the s inger to a s s u m e a statuesque 14 stance with chest high and head erect. Phil l ips (2004) lists seven characterist ics of good posture from the feet to the head with direct ives such a s tuck, stretch, back and down, elevate, and "hold high and level," to create an alert and aware state (p.223-224). Postural concepts are rooted in notions of rigidity and f ixedness, suggests Thurman (2000), that are injurious to instrumentalists and singers. T h e Latin root of the word is positura meaning formation, from positum meaning to put, p lace, set, fix, s take, or post. Postura l express ions reflecting this static notion ("Keep your shoulders. . . , " "Stand up straight," "Hold your...") could actually induce significant ineff iciencies (p. 337). Habitual "protective react ions" and "emotional-state bodymind programs" a lso create constricting postures that require re-orienting (2000, p. 334). How a choral educator add resses posture is of vital re levance to vocal skill development in her students. 2.4 S o m a t i c P e d a g o g y T h e appl icat ion of somat ic educat ion to choral pedagogy is beginning to appear in the literature. Ne lson and Blades-Zel ler (2002) expl icate the Feldenkrais Method and give practical direct ions in modules suitable for chora l ensemb le rehearsal . The Feldenkrais Method uses the body's neurological language, developing kinesthetic awareness through a focus on the "how-to" of movements by clarifying functions and discover ing better ways to perform. Th is d iscovery involves the "part of the nervous sys tem that controls movement, as opposed to conceptual consc iousness or 'thinking'" (Nelson & Blades-Zel ler , 2002, p. 3). They a lso suggest 15 that directive descr ipt ions of technique (e.g., "Lift your soft palate!") result in consc ious muscular effort and tension. Effortful habits, such as when we "tighten up" to ach ieve difficult tasks, create e x c e s s tension (p. 21). The interconnectedness of the nervous sys tem is such that "tension anywhere is in a s e n s e tension everywhere" (p. 20). Movements are optimally performed when a singer "al lows" or pract ices "pass ive control" rather than the extra effort of active control. Barbara Conab le (1998, 2000) has appl ied A lexander Techn ique principles to the practice of Body Mapping or "one's self-representation in one 's own brain" for instrumentalists and singers (1998, p. 1). Buchanan (2005) descr ibes Body Mapping as a self-inquiry method that advocates f reedom of movement through accurate mind-body connect ions, resulting in poised and ba lanced body usage. Conab le (2000) suggests that the "profound embodiment" deve loped through Body Mapping also inf luences ensemble technique, and that choral conductors who have helped their s ingers gain full body awareness as they s ing are "surprised and delighted by the terrific difference embodiment makes in the quality of the s inging" (p.14). 2.5 T h e A l e x a n d e r T e c h n i q u e Frederick Matthias A lexander (1869-1955) was a pioneer in the field of somat ic educat ion. Nine years of experimentat ion and self-observat ion led to d iscover ies about his physical , intellectual, and emotional self, publ ished in four books and deve loped into severa l principles regarding the "use of the self." De Alcantara (1997) states that the "use of your vo ice reflects the use of your whole 16 self: it reflects who you are" (p. 12). A lexander observed how he "used h imse l f and establ ished what is known as the A lexander Techn ique (AT). First, F. M. A lexander understood the " s e l f as a working unity, and found in his teaching that "it is poss ib le during a course of lessons to demonstrate to the pupil how the mental and physical work together in the use of the self in all activity" (Alexander, 1932/1985, p. 22). The term "use" appl ied not to the use of any speci f ic part of the body but more comprehensive ly to the working of the organism in genera l . " U s e " included "concept ion or understanding, withholding or giving consent, thinking, reasoning, directing," because "the manifestat ions of such activities cannot be d issociated from the use of the mechan isms and the assoc ia ted functioning of the organism" (Alexander, 1932/1985, p. 53). S e c o n d , A lexander d iscovered that habitual ways of doing things deaden our kinesthetic sense , eventual ly limiting our sensory awareness (Heirich, 2005). Through meticulous observat ion he d iscovered that his voca l m isuse began with his response to the st imulus to recite as an actor, and that his habit was to pull his head back, depress his larynx, and suck in breath through his mouth producing a gasp , which eventuated in his problem with chronic hoarseness . His habit actually felt right, but was inefficient. This faulty sensory awareness required re-educating. Observ ing himself through the use of a three-way mirror, A lexander d iscovered that what felt "natural" to him was not tension-free and was just what he had become familiar with. This informs his second principle: Our sensory awareness is impeded by chronic tension, and it is unreliable. 17 A third principle A lexander establ ished is that habits of use affect functioning, or performance. Recogniz ing the force of habit is required, as is avoiding "mechanica l repetition" (Weiss, 2005, p. 38). Further experimentat ion and observat ion showed A lexander that "it proved possib le to bring about a consc ious control of my reaction through a change in the direction of my use" (Alexander, 1932/1985, p. 51). A fourth A lexander principle involves inhibition or "non-doing." Th is is an active process of refraining from reacting in a habitual way in order to make a more consc ious cho ice of act ion, and to develop a "true awareness and sensitivity that mechan ica l exerc ises would prevent" (Weiss, 2005, p. 43). A n important attitude in the technique is that p rocess must take priority over end results, rel inquishing the "end-gaining" orientation taught by our educat ion sys tems and our genera l culture (Heirich, 2005, p. 9). The development of a refined awareness depends on this inner state of non-doing, and on an ability to "l isten" and " see " inside the body (Carrington, 1997, quoted in W e i s s , 2005, p. 53). Pr imary control is a fifth A lexander principle, and it refers to the relationship between the head, neck, and back that is central to the dynamic, ba lanced working of the human organism. The primary relationship between head, neck, and back begins with a tension free balancing of the head on the tip of the spine, as one thinks the directions, "free the neck to let the head go forward and up so that the back may lengthen and widen." Directing is a process of thinking in activity. Secondary directions deal with the relationship of extremities to the torso and to each other. "The singer must not do these directions, but he has to actively think them, resulting 18 in what other body-mind techniques would call energy or flow," states W e i s s (2005, p. 74). T h e primary control is not to be ach ieved by muscu lar effort but by attending to the process of use, and by al lowing the directions to take place. Attention to the process , inhibition of habitual responses , and direction were the "means-whereby" one could develop efficient, re leased use, and maximize vocal potential. This is in contrast to the end-gaining orientation in which A lexander d iscovered that his habitual patterns dominated when he focused solely on achieving a vocal performance. A lexander bel ieved that knowledge of these principles of use would be "of inestimable value in all educat ional work" (Alexander, 1932/1985, p.51). 2.6 A l e x a n d e r T e c h n i q u e in V o c a l a n d C h o r a l Literature Alexander Techn ique has been appl ied increasingly to the teaching of singing (Hudson, 2002). F. M. A lexander bel ieved all aspec ts of being were integrally bound up with breathing and that through "re leased coordinat ion" throughout the body and "expanded field of attention," the breathing mechan ism could be freed (Hudson, 2002, p. 107). Heir ich's (2005) rationale for employing A lexander Techn ique in her pedagogy is twofold. The neck-head poise on the spine facilitated by the technique directly affects laryngeal functioning. Further, the overall poise developed in the technique is essent ia l for optimal d iaphragm, lung, and rib musc le action (p. 78). S h e invites s ingers to observe their breathing and neck activity during thinking and movement for s igns of holding and tensing habits. Heir ich's use of explorat ions and g a m e s in teaching vo ice through A lexander Techn ique principles is integrated with a bel canto technical foundation to build healthy vocal technique (p. 14). 19 Two case studies reveal the positive impact of A lexander Techn ique on the voca l production of s ingers. Lloyd (1988) conducted a c a s e study of five s ingers undertaking a course of thirty A lexander Techn ique lessons, beginning with a pilot study of her own exper ience of the technique and its effects on her physical profile, breathing, and sound. S h e gathered data on her subjects before and after the course on their physical profiles in standing and sitting, in general observat ions during the course, and through detailed descript ion of the subjects' breathing and sound. Conc lus ions were that changes in sel f -use habits contributed to increased rib flexibility during respiration, a re lease of back and abdominal tensions, increased breath capacity, and new sensat ions in resonance (p. 123). For a singer to establ ish the response of 'inhibition' and to al low a re lease of ingrained habits, L loyd found that no standard course of lessons could be recommended because "this s tage is reached by different people at different speeds " (p. 142). L loyd suggests that the measurement results are "merely an indication that habitual tensions in s ingers ' daily and performing body use can be re leased and that consc ious control can be put to increasingly success fu l use in the acquisit ion of singing technique" (p. 95). Macdona ld (1997) conducted a c a s e study of three actors in a process o f ten A lexander Techn ique lessons, exploring the relationship between improvements in sensory appreciat ion and respiratory and vocal functioning, and the performance of Shakespea rean text. Sensory appreciat ion is descr ibed as "an organized awareness of the relationship between upright posture and vocal efficiency" and the "ability to discriminate between what muscular effort is necessary , and what is inappropriate and best left to involuntary control" (p. 29). Findings included an increased intercostal elasticity, an extended range of tones, 20 improved resonance in vo ice range and quality, and increased emotional and dynamic a c c e s s (p. 94-95). In all three cases , Macdona ld observed a strong associat ion between a low standard of sensory appreciat ion, poor posture, and vocal functioning (p. 96). He conc luded that an understanding of the relationship between use and functioning is essent ia l for voice teachers, s ince tensions in respiratory and vocal mechan isms are often compensat ions for postural and muscular inefficiencies e lsewhere. "Restr icted breathing, a tight jaw, a stiff tongue, a tight throat cannot be treated in isolation but must be cons idered in the context that use of the whole body has upon functioning" (pp. 108-109). In Evoking Sound: The Choral Warm Up (2005), Jordan lists fourteen "cardinal rules" for a choral pedagogy. The top three address muscular rigidity, realigning the body through Body Mapping principles, and creating inclusive and inner awareness . T h e appl icat ion of Body Mapp ing principles al lows for the "unlocking of all other aspec ts of vocal technique," and Jordan s e e s this as the most important aspect of choral ensemble pedagogy (p. 10). Jordan asserts that "the development of the kinesthetic and aural s e n s e s are the most important to learn and recall vocal technique and the lack of incorporating these is a shortcoming in choral pedagogy" (p. 12). 2.7 Summary The research literature on voca l sound production indicates that skil ls in respiration, phonation, and posture for singing can be formed into habits through instruction and that those skil ls are important components of voca l pedagogy. The literature further reveals that pedagogy address ing coordination of speci f ic musc le 21 sys tems is significantly enhanced by somat ic approaches that integrate mind and body, develop sensory or kinesthetic awareness , and facilitate the re lease of unnecessary tensions. Researchers have demonstrated that the implementation of the A lexander Techn ique s e e m s to improve voca l skil ls for actors and singers. A study of the application of A T in a choral setting has not been undertaken. The following empir ical investigation of high schoo l choral s ingers ' exper iences of voca l technique development over a course of A lexander Techn ique lessons will contribute to the literature in choral pedagogy. This investigation is necessary to inform choral educators of the potential pedagogica l benefits of the mind-body p rocesses of A lexander Techn ique on the healthy development of vocal skil ls in their students. 22 3 METHODOLOGY This study focused on how a process of A lexander Techn ique (AT) lessons in a high schoo l choral rehearsal might benefit student vocal skil ls. Specif ical ly, the research explored what beneficial exper iences of posture, breathing, and tone production choral students might have during an introductory unit of A lexander Techn ique lessons. To understand the effect of A lexander Techn ique training on the vocal skil ls of adolescent s ingers, I wanted to descr ibe and interpret participants' v iews of their voca l exper ience during A T instruction. A qualitative research methodology al lowed me a holistic, empir ical , descript ive, interpretive, and empathic approach to my topic, through which I could aim to "construct a clearer experiential memory" and "help people obtain a more sophist icated account of things" (Bresler & Stake, 2006, p. 273, 278-279). A qualitative study seeks to "discover and understand a phenomenon, a process , or the perspect ives and worldviews of the people involved" (Merr iam, 1998, p. 11). Discover ing what v o c a l changes students exper ience during A lexander Techn ique lessons necessi tated a qualitative research approach. 3.1 Instrumental c a s e s t u d y To construct an understanding of students' exper ience of change in their voca l sound production through A lexander Techn ique, I chose to use an instrumental case study method. A case study is an empir ical inquiry that " investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context" (Yin, 2003, p. 13). A c a s e is a bounded, integrated sys tem (such as a choir), and it is cons idered 23 instrumental when examined "mainly to provide insight into an issue or to redraw a general izat ion" (Stake, p. 437, 2000). This research explored the vocal development exper iences of a high schoo l choir learning the A lexander Techn ique principles in the context of choral rehearsals. 3.2 Sett ing Site select ion began with searching for choral directors who employ A lexander Techn ique in their rehearsals. Twelve conversat ions with choral and voice educators led me to identify five directors who used kinesthetically oriented instructional approaches with their choirs. One choral director I talked with who works on Vancouve r Island is a lso a bodymind acupressure therapist, and she integrates these techniques into her voca l warm up. Another educator, currently teaching in Statesboro, Georg ia , U S A , has taken A lexander Techn ique lessons, and employs Taoist principles and movement in his work. Neither of these sites w a s possib le to observe for reasons of t ime and expense . Exploratory observat ion of three sites in Vancouve r and North Vancouve r revealed the use of a col lection of non-verbal gestures and movements for musical and choral sound concerns. I ruled out studying these sites as my interest focused more particularly on bodymind awareness techniques and the explicit appl icat ion of these, specif ical ly A lexander Technique, to healthy voice development. Conduct ing a study of the p rocess of A lexander Techn ique lessons in one of my own choir c l asses was the next possib le approach, with the involvement of Gabr ie l la Minnes Brandes, Ph .D . , as the A lexander Techn ique instructor, and myself 24 as choral teacher. Dr. M innes Brandes is a certified practitioner who teaches at the A lexander Techn ique Center in Vancouver and is the co-director of the Vancouver Schoo l of the A lexander Techn ique, a three-year, certified teacher-training program. S h e has worked with s ingers and music ians. I contacted Dr. Minnes Brandes after d iscuss ing the Techn ique with voice teacher Sandra Head (1996), with whom Dr. M innes Brandes has worked. In order to exper ience and understand the technique myself, I engaged in a ser ies of eight private lessons with Dr. Minnes Brandes prior to the study. Members of the senior concert choir c lass who served as participants in the study met in a large, multi-ethnic, middle c lass , urban high schoo l in Vancouver , British Co lumbia . The study took place in the spring of 2007. The schoo l culture was highly academic , with International Bacca laureate and French Immersion programs attracting students from across the city. The choral program consis ted of junior (grades 8-9) and senior (grades 10-12) groups that were inclusive of all voca l skill levels. There were no feeder schoo l programs, and many of the s ingers had their first exper ience of choral singing at the senior level in the program. There were 58 participants in the senior choir during the research, ranging in age from fifteen to eighteen years, with 17 males and 41 females. Twenty students had participated in the choral program for two to four years, while the majority of students were in their first year. T h e senior choir that served a s the c a s e in this study met after schoo l twice a week for 75 minutes. Rehearsa ls took place on choral risers, with s o m e activities occurring throughout the c lassroom space . 25 3.3 Ethics T o ensure that my study would follow ethical guidel ines I submitted my research proposal to the Behavioura l Resea rch Ethics Board at the University of British Co lumb ia and received approval (see Append ix C) . I des igned consent forms for all part ic ipants/respondents and parent/guardians of students and received their consent (see Append ix A) . I received approval a lso from the Vancouve r Schoo l Board, and from the administration of the school at which the study took place. The identities of all the participants were kept confidential at all points during the study. P s e u d o n y m s were used and other identifying information was altered to protect the identities and privacy of all involved. Observat ion notes, journal documents, v ideo and interview data were coded to ensure confidentiality. Digitally recorded data, documents , and videotaped data will be kept in a locked file at U B C for five years, after which t ime the data will be destroyed. 3.4 Choice of respondents A good respondent is "one who understands the culture but is a lso able to reflect on it and articulate for the researcher what is going on" (Merr iam, 1998, p. 85). Nine students volunteered as respondents, forming a purposive sample of students who had been in the choral program for at least two years, who demonstrated a keen interest in and enjoyment of s inging, and who had time availability for interviews and journal writing. Of the nine who initially volunteered, eight completed the study a s respondents: Kathryn, L i sa , Ju l ia , Ji l l ian, A n n a , A l lan , David, and Kevan . (Respondents ' identities are protected by pseudonymns.) Al l 26 eight respondents in the sample wrote weekly journals reflecting on the lessons. Four of the respondents provided further reflection in individual interviews at beginning, mid, and end points of the study. I se lected respondents to interview by random draw from the soprano and alto volunteers. Only one tenor had volunteered, and I chose the baritone interviewee based on length of t ime in the program. The exper iences of Jul ia, a tenth grade student, and Kevan , an eleventh grade student, are detai led in the Chapter Four, and their accounts provide individual v iews on how the process of A T lessons was beneficial to the voca l development of students in this high schoo l choir. I chose Jul ia and Kevan based on the percept iveness they demonstrated concern ing their past and present voca l exper iences, the openness they had to new exper ience and exploration, and the cons is tency of responses they articulated that gave insight into the best poss ib le benefits of the A T lesson process. Jul ia was a lso a more exper ienced s inger than Kevan , which provided a contrasting view on how A T lessons benefited the voca l skil ls of students at different levels. 3.5 Instructional procedures: The Alexander Technique lessons During the s ix-week research period, Dr. Gabr ie l la Minnes Brandes taught seven A lexander Techn ique lessons with the choir during the regular program schedu le of choral rehearsals twice per week. There were interruptions to the schedu le of c l asses due to two statutory hol idays and one other non-instructional day, which resulted in a total of eight sess ions over six weeks . The eighth sess ion 27 was led by private vo ice teacher M s . Sandra Head , who had studied A lexander Techn ique s ince 1994 with Dr. M innes Brandes, and who completed a master 's project on how it informed her teaching of singing (Head, 1996). After reading M s . Head 's work, consult ing Dr. M innes Brandes, and exper iencing a private voice lesson with M s . Head , I dec ided in col laboration with Dr. M innes Brandes on a change in research procedures to include M s . H e a d in the final sess ion of the study as an integrative exper ience of voca l technique and A lexander principles for the choir. C l a s s e s began with approximately twenty minutes of A lexander Techn ique instruction and d iscuss ion with Dr. Gabr ie l la Minnes Brandes, fol lowed by a vocal warm up which appl ied some of the A lexander principles, and they were conc luded with rehearsal of repertoire. L e s s o n s included explanat ion and c lass d iscuss ion of A T principles and directions, directed group exper ience, student observat ions of their own and others' exper ience, and individual hands-on gu idance with the sample of respondents a s wel l a s with random students in the choir. T h e min i - lessons in A lexander Techn ique drew students' attention to habitual ways of preparing to use the voice and s ing, in particular the relationship of each student 's respect ive head, neck, and back in movement. Students were led to explore alternative opt ions to habitual responses through everyday movements such as sitting, standing, walking, and using their vo ices. 28 3.6 Data co l lec t ion Comprehens ive and multiple v iews of the A T exper ience in this study were provided by students' weekly reflective journal responses to quest ions, three semi -structured individual interviews, my observat ional notes of rehearsals , and two v ideotaped c lasses . My s tance during the study w a s that of "participant-observer," wherein my observer activities, known to the choir, were subordinate to my role as a choral teacher (Merr iam, 1998, p. 101). I adopted my role a s observer primarily during the A lexander Techn ique lesson portion of the rehearsal , and did not participate in the A T instruction. For the remainder of the rehearsal I participated a s choral director. Y in (2003) warns of a potential problem with this dual role s ince participation may not al low "sufficient t ime to take notes or to raise quest ions about events from different perspect ives, as a good observer might" (p. 96). This was indeed a chal lenge for me when a part of the A T lesson coinc ided with the voca l warm up that I led. My attention felt div ided. S take 's (1995) suggest ion to write up the observat ion "while it is f resh" and "let the occas ion tell its story" w a s my strategy for address ing role imbalance. I made brief notes during rehearsals, and afterward wrote a full narrative of the events of every rehearsal , including my quest ions, impressions, and speci f ic participant responses, for the duration of the study. In weekly journals, the sample of eight respondents answered quest ions about their thoughts and sensat ions during the exper ience of the A lexander Techn ique lessons , and they descr ibed their subsequent process of vocal iz ing in rehearsal (see Append ix B). I formulated quest ions each week on posture, 29 breathing, and tone production in accordance with the A T principles being d i scussed , the events of the A T lessons, and in response to the students' developing understanding as demonstrated each week in the journals, in c lass , and in interviews. Semi-structured, one hour interviews with four respondents were conducted outside of c lass time at the beginning, mid, and end points of the research period to gain multiple perspect ives, and to "aggregate percept ions" (Stake, 1995, p. 65). Interviews were digitally recorded with the consent of the participants, and transcr ibed by myself. Interview quest ions were deve loped progressively, based on students' emerging understanding of A T over the course of the study, and in response to events of the A T lessons and the respondents ' exper iences of breathing, posture, and tone production. A pilot testing of interview quest ions on breathing, posture, and tone production was conducted prior to the study with two student s ingers from outside the participating choral c lass . Through these pilot interviews I determined that some quest ions were not useful and others needed to be added. I g leaned observat ions from videotaped rehearsals at the beginning and end of the study for "aggregative interpretation" (Stake, 1995, p. 55). O n e camera , operated by a student outside the choral program, was focused on the choir for the duration of each of the two rehearsals. V ideo data included observat ions of student implementation of the A lexander Techn ique over the course of two different rehearsals and at the end of the study, and it was used to check data on posture, 30 breathing, and tone production gathered throughout the study from sampled respondents. 3.7 Analysis I appl ied two levels of analys is to the data: descript ive and categorical (Merr iam, 1998, p. 179). For instrumental c a s e studies the need for categor ical data and measurement is greater (Stake, 1995, p. 77). Categor ies of the concepts that were reflective of the purpose of the project were constructed. The three voca l skill concepts observed for in this study formed the categor ies of posture, breathing, and tone production. Addit ionally, a fourth category was constructed of participant understanding of A lexander Techn ique principles. Week l y journals and respondent interviews were colour coded according to each construct and condensed . Over multiple readings, I made refinements in the ass ignment of data to each category. For each category I ana lyzed individual respondents, then ana lyzed ac ross the eight journal respondents, summar iz ing their responses. I a lso ana lyzed the four interviewees individually for each category and for each of their three interviews, and I summar ized the responses individually and collectively for the total of twelve interviews. Descript ive analys is involved summariz ing the data and making l inkages. I kept a personal research log maintaining a calendar of project events, observat ion memos , and notes. After rehearsals I highlighted pertinent and recurring observat ions, underl ined student statements, wrote my impressions and quest ions, and made planning notes for subsequent sess ions . I then typed a full vers ion of field 31 notes c lose to the "raw" events, but which became "partly cooked" as I wrote and re-wrote (LeCompte & Schensu l , 1999). 3.8 Val idity a n d reliability To arrive at insights and conc lus ions that would "ring true" for readers of this study, I adopted severa l strategies. To strengthen credibility and reliability, triangulation of data was sought through the multiple methods of observat ion, interview, and document review to confirm emerging interpretations and findings (Stake, 1995). I submitted copies of the initial analys is of each interview to the respondents to check that I had accurately portrayed their exper iences. Throughout the study I continued these checks with respondents. In meet ings and emai l conversat ions I sought feedback from private vo ice and secondary schoo l choral teaching co l leagues, who both do and do not have previous exper ience of the A lexander Techn ique, to d i scuss my findings, to help me identify my b iases, and to quest ion my conc lus ions. My high schoo l choral teaching col league saw similarities with her own choral teaching practice through the descript ions I gave. Though she felt that the findings for Ju l ia were less focused on speci f ic learning, she expressed that the f indings for the choir, and for Kevan in particular, encouraged her that more could be done to develop vocal technique in her own work with adolescent s ingers of different cultural backgrounds. The private voice instructor saw an interesting re levance to her teaching practice in the study's f indings around increased awareness and re lease of abdominal effort in the breathing cycle. 32 To enhance the transferability of what was learned in this particular case , and to assist the reader in making "naturalistic general izat ions" (Stake, 1995, p.87), I give (in Chapter Four) an account of events with rich descript ion. I provide famil iar descript ion of choral c lass routine, raw data of students' verbal and written descr ipt ions of their exper iences, tr iangulated with my own observat ions, for a descript ion that is intended to provide the reader with vicar ious exper ience. I a lso provide descript ion of the choral c lass demograph ics and context in the schoo l community, so that readers can make compar isons with their own situations (Merr iam, 1998). 33 4 FINDINGS The vocal exper iences of choral students through the six-week process of A lexander Techn ique lessons in rehearsals will be descr ibed primarily through the vo ices of the respondents and my own field notes. In this chapter, I present a week-by-week account of the events of A lexander Techn ique instruction in my choral c lass . Student journal and interview responses to the p rocess of A T lessons are introduced and d iscussed . A s sect ion headings for each week, I have chosen phrases from student writing and c lass d iscuss ion. T h e s e reflect the choir 's development of understanding, the signif icant exper iences of s o m e students, and pertinent A lexander principles. To provide further perspect ives on how student understanding and use evolved, the individual exper iences of Ju l ia , a tenth grade singer, and Kevan , an eleventh grade singer, who were respondents in this study, will a lso be detailed following the descript ion of the choir as a whole. 4.1 The Choir 4.1.1 Restoring awareness "Does the A lexander Techn ique teach us something new that will change us or does it restore someth ing?" asked Max, a keen baritone who stood in the front row of the choir. The singer behind him remembered see ing a toddler's poise on a trampoline in the video the choir v iewed during the first week, and he suggested that the Techn ique was about "restoring something." Educat ional phi losopher John Dewey, in his introduction to A lexander 's The Use of the Self, stated that A lexander 34 made his d iscover ies through a procedure of sel f -observat ions that met "all the requirements of the strictest scientif ic method" (Alexander, 1932/1985, p. 7). Comment ing further on how A lexander 's work contributed to understanding condit ioned reflex and habit, Dewey wrote: The d iscovery of a central control which condit ions all other reactions brings the condit ioning factor under consc ious direction, and enab les the individual through his own coordinated activities to take possess ion of his own potentialities. It converts the fact of condit ioned reflexes from a principle of external ens lavement into a means of vital f reedom, (pp. 11-12) A lexander said his work of re-educating habitual usage to natural condit ions of functioning; meaning "being in accordance with nature" (Webster's) was "not a p rocess of adding something but of restoring something" (Alexander, 1941, quoted in De Alcantara, 1997, p. 272). To develop awareness of their habitual reactions, the choir students were invited to recognize and observe their own habitual responses as well as those of their peers. The study began with an exploration of response to the often-heard command to sit or stand straight, of response in the body when shifting weight and finding ba lance on the feet, and of the response in body and breath to the thought of s inging. Students were asked to notice what they feel and do. Students reported t ightness in their backs. Dr. M innes Brandes directed students to walk while imagining singing a song , and students noted changes in their breathing and in the backs of their necks. A s students stood around the floor, Dr. Minnes Brandes invited them to observe whether anything happened as their weight shifted from toes to heels to s ides of the feet. Severa l students noticed movement of their heads forward or back, and tightening in their backs. Dr. Minnes Brandes expla ined that 35 awareness facilitates cho ice for a more efficient use of our se lves as instruments, and the A T principle of the primary control was introduced as the singers were directed to pay attention to the relat ionships between their heads , necks, and backs as an organizing principle. To guide their understanding in the first week the students saw overhead t ransparencies, and observed others in a video that introduced A T with a focus on primary directions to free the neck, to let the head go forward and up, to allow the back lengthen and widen. Dr. Minnes Brandes invited the choir to "feel the full support of the floor" and to attend to their weight shifts as "homework" for the following week. After the A lexander lesson students assemb led on the risers, and I encouraged s ingers to simply "think up!" as we usually did in vocal warm ups: Prev ious to the study, students in the choir had been instructed to stand, think tall with feet shoulder width apart, to loosen the knees , to relax the shoulders, and not to co l lapse the chest. During breathing and vocal iz ing I asked students to use their hands to attend to the neck, jaw, ribs, placing a hand on these while singing, check ing for tension or movement. I conducted activities at a quick pace for management efficiency, and I wondered how this constrained student self-attention by not al lowing much time for response. Student journals revealed some confusion, much effort, and budding awareness . Ji l l ian, a quiet and attentive alto, noted that she "tried to keep" her "back straight and head leveled," but it "took a lot of effort." "After a while," she reported, her "back and the area around the neck felt sore." A l lan , who had been in choir for a year, descr ibed his response to the A lexander direction to let the head go forward 36 and up. "I tried to stick my head up, but it would be too far up or too far forward." The students thought more about their posture and began to notice their particular habits of head-neck use in daily activities such as eating, computer work, and driving. A l lan at first thought the A lexander lessons were "a waste of t ime," then dec ided that the technique involved a "delicate balance." He noticed in his singing that at the end of breath he pushed "really hard to try to last longer" and, "I cram my head back, like they d isplayed on the video." David, a tenor, wrote of his difficulty with habitual tenseness , and tried to "adjust" his "body posit ioning" according to the A lexander Techn ique but remarked, "I do not feel a lot of difference because it feels forced." However, "easier" was how two students descr ibed their singing in rehearsal during the initial lessons , and Kevan wrote that during the lessons he felt "more ca lm and loose." I introduced new repertoire after the warm up, again at a quick pace. I observed lagging attention, ev idenced in sagging heads and s ide s lumped postures as heads were down into the music. I real ized I did not revisit the concepts or "up" attention at all as we dug into repertoire work. I didn't stop to reflect. There was a dr ivenness to accompl ish tasks within the shortness of the time frame and to maintain student attention. Singing free of paper in hand facilitated student attention to use in warm up. During a memor ized chant that we did in unison and in canon , I heard the c lassroom buzz with the resonance of the choir 's sound. 37 4.1.2 " T h e rock b lock ing that who le breath" Alexander , known as 'the breathing man ' early in his career, considered breathing to be "an effect, not a cause , " a function of use, s o that it w a s outside direct control (De Alcantara, 1997, p. 91). C o m m o n breathing habits such as "trying to take a big, deep breath" are seen as symptomat ic of poorly coordinated use. A lexander ' s v iew of breathing is as a function "which will perform i tse l f in the context of a "coordinated use of the psycho-phys ica l mechan ism" (Alexander, 1910, quoted in De Alcantara, 1997, p. 95). C h a n g e s in awareness of tension habits and breathing occurred for s o m e singers in the choir in the second week of the study a s they appl ied and exper ienced the A T directions while standing and singing. During the vocal warm up, random students received hands-on guidance. Sitting at the piano to lead the warm up exerc ises, I asked the choir to spread out on the floor as Dr. Minnes Brandes moved among them and appl ied brief hands-on gu idance to the head-neck-back of severa l students as they sang , directing their attention to different body parts, their ba lance, support, and posture. At the end of warm up student responses affirmed dif ferences that this gu idance made in their stature and breathing. Jay , a new singer in the choir, remarked that his breath f lowed more directly, or better, as he w a s "elongated." Ji l l ian, who exerted much effort on her own in the previous week, sa id that her body felt " re laxed" though straight as Dr. M innes Brandes directed her head-neck-back. S h e wrote: Dr. G a b b y put her hands around my back and lifted my hipbone area. I felt that more air w a s coming out of my mouth. It felt as if the rock blocking that whole breath of air has been lifted, and the gush of air s imply re leased itself. It felt really great. I had more breath and the sound c a m e out brighter and louder while we were doing the warm-up. During the rehearsal , I felt it was eas ier for me to sing without taking as 38 much breath as I did before . . . The strain I had last week was lessened or maybe I did not pay as much attention to it. Students who appl ied on their own what they saw and heard felt the "opening" of a "pathway" in the "throat" that y ielded "louder tone" or more vibration. Kathryn, a more exper ienced singer, d iscovered her tendency to stick her neck out as she went up a sca le , but she felt that by "keeping my neck straight and slightly lifting my head up my voice was able to project more easi ly." S h e noticed less tension in her larynx and found singing longer phrases "easier." David, the " tense" tenor, watched the others and responded with what he felt was a "lighter and more 'up'" posture in his body, and he identified that when he thought too much about his back it stiffened and became "rigid." Rick, a lso new to the choir, commented that the gu idance he received "made me go upwards," and that the hands-on his ribs straightened his h e a d - n e c k and he "felt taller." A l lan noticed less tension in his upper back and neck as he attended on his own to standing "taller." In response to the homework Dr. M innes Brandes ass igned in the first week, students reported awareness of how weight shift changed their p lace of support, and of how bending the knees and straightening the back al lowed more breath. Students a lso became aware of tension during breathing and singing. A n n a , who w a s aware of her breathy tone, sa id , "When I inhale the back of my neck slowly gains tension." S h e felt that "there wasn' t as much b lockage in the throat and the vo ice box" a s she "tried to straighten," and that her tone improved when she didn't bend her neck to "try to look at the music." During the rest of rehearsal my attention never rested long on any one person as I attended to the pace and order of tasks. I rehearsed the choir on the first p iece 39 from memory on the floor in concentr ic circ les, as per the text of the lively traditional spiritual being prepared for a choral festival performance the following week. I noticed A n n a and Kevan singing with greater projection in their solos, Ju l ia singing very attentively, while David steadily maintained an erect posture. Focus on multiple tasks chal lenged some singers, including Kevan , who thought that there were "too many things going on that distracted" his "attention [from] head/neck posture." I observed that students' attention to body use while singing during rehearsal became intermittent, or it d isappeared altogether as concentration went to the repertoire, particularly with mus ic folders in hand. I felt some concern in this sess ion that student understanding wasn' t building from the previous week and that they needed a fresh explanat ion of principles. David had asked in his first interview if A T w a s just about posture, if "that was all there was to it," with "what benefit," and so I wondered if there was a short attention span for the process of developing an awareness of use. I wondered about students' immediate need to know or s e e results, their effort of "trying" to ach ieve a better use, and the effect of concentrat ion on awareness . Did giving the "terms" of the technique, the pedagogica l "spell ing out" of it, create or perpetuate the very end -gaining orientation that A lexander identified as detr imental? The intention of s ingers at this point was to "try to straighten the body" and to "maintain a straight neck," both of which indicated an end-gaining orientation. 40 4.1.3 " S o little effort" The A lexander Techn ique develops the appropriate use of tensions in movement. De Alcantara argues that there are "no right posit ions, only right directions," and that a good use of the self entails "right tension" (De Alcantara, 1997, p. 16). V o i c e teacher J a n e Heir ich suggests that one of the ways s ingers interfere with good use is by trying too much or too little. Many people tend to equate upright poise with effort rather than ba lance, with work rather than ease . L ikewise, they tend to equate "relax" with a downward co l lapse of everything. W e need to re-examine our pre-concept ions about what is necessary for a po ised speaker /s inger to make a healthy sound. (Heirich, 2005, pp. 63-64) Students observed a significant difference in the amount of exertion required in their movement as they worked with Dr. Minnes Brandes in the third week of the study, gaining a slowly growing understanding of "necessary tension." The fourth sess ion began with v isuals to review the primary importance of the head-neck-back relationship in A lexander Techn ique. Dr. Minnes Brandes expla ined that in the head-neck relationship there is minimal pressure on the neck vertebrae, which are like beads , and the head is lightly ba lanced above them. S h e drew attention to the muscular connect ions from the back of the head to the jaw, and to the shoulders. The second viewing of a picture of a s inger throwing her head back and down while singing revealed the capt ion that read "how to get a sore throat." Dr. M innes Brandes asked for comments or observat ions, and participants showed cont inuous thinking about body use. R o n , a novice bass singer, commented that he had been giving "more attention to the head and neck," and Caro l ine in the alto sect ion remarked that she was more relaxed and not so tense. 41 Another student further suggested, "I actually think it makes the jaw looser." I observed that students sat on the risers with a "very tall" awareness in their bodies. Dr. Minnes Brandes demonstrated A lexander work with three students and the choir was asked to observe. S h e appl ied hands-on direction with the students as they stood and moved from sitting to standing, and she quest ioned the students on their exper ience as they moved. The choir students observing s a w similarities with their own habits, and those who received hands-on gu idance made d iscover ies. The models tensed in different p laces on impulse to stand, and while standing. Whi le observing, Ji l l ian "truly got a s e n s e " of what the A lexander Techn ique " looks like." S h e wrote: In the first demonstrat ion with Kevan , I real ized that he has an imbalance between his right and left legs. He s t resses more on the right leg and bends it. But after Dr. Brandes had put her hands-on him, he seemed to be a lot more relaxed. Dr. M innes Brandes affirmed that the knees were connected to the ankles and directed him to re lease the right knee, to "let it go." A s Kevan moved from sitting to standing, Jil l ian observed that "it seemed so easy, like it was without any effort." Kevan sa id he felt confused by it, and Dr. M innes Brandes expla ined this w a s because it was unfamiliar and different from his habit. Ji l l ian perceived that "the A lexander Techn ique a ims not at the straightness of your backbone, but rather the right connect ions with each of the vertebrates [sic] that exerts the most efficient energy from the back and the neck," but she still wondered how she "could do that everyday in life." David was "amazed at how quick and casua l it looked." He saw that demonstrators tried to have their posture as "straight as possib le" but that "all it 42 brought was rigidity and anxiety all over," perhaps reflecting on his own exper ience with habitual tension. A l lan 's participation in a demonstrat ion brought him "awesome new sensat ions." His understanding of the A T direction to free the neck was "relaxing by thinking." He gained awareness of his tendency to overwork his posture, and of his faulty kinesthetic sense . A l lan recounted his exper ience: I remember when I was trying to sit up straight and my neck was really tense, and no matter how or where I moved it, it wouldn't relax. A n d then Dr. Brandes told me to think about it and suddenly my neck felt different, not necessar i ly in a relaxing way but definitely in a good way. I think the biggest thing I learned was that I cannot trust my own body, when I thought I was s louching I was actually sitting up straight. I learned that I don't need to be stiff like a board in order to have a good posture. Whi le I'm still unsure of how this will specif ical ly help my singing, I'm sure it will cause less stress on my body. T h o s e who received hands-on work were "dazz led" by the "crazy sensat ion" of moving with so little energy, effort, or stress, but felt they could not replicate it on their own. Whi le s o m e students exper ienced change in their use as they merely thought through the A T directions, others were conv inced they could not exper ience change without hands-on guidance. David stated emphatical ly, "I do not think I will be able to make any significant changes if I do not actually F E E L what it is like to have the 'correct' posture." However, he a lso noticed, "I feel that I gain the most air when I am most up, but not necessar i ly straight." Kathryn, a soprano respondent, observed: Most of it depends on me telling myself that I shal l free my neck and think tall. It's quite fascinating because my body s e e m s to know what to do once I concentrate on my thoughts and let my mind take over. Al though I cannot truly tell if my body is posit ioning in an entirely correct way I do find internal changes in my body. They are not overly 43 significant but they are recognizable. I can hear that the notes come out more smoothly and I a lso feel that breathing is easier . S ingers began to sense relat ionships between the head, neck, and back. "When I adjust my neck to relax," David noticed, "I feel that my back a lso relaxes and moves along with my neck." A l lan a lso descr ibed an awareness of these relat ionships: It feels different when I actually feel how one body part affects another. I can particularly remember relaxing my jaw and my lower back relaxed as well . A habit of strain on the neck when concentrating was noted by Kathryn who, whenever focusing on doing something, "even in s inging," observed that her "head tends to lean forward." The choir was invited to ask further quest ions after the demonstrat ions, and Max in the front row asked , " S o , where do you put the tension, then? U p ? Forward?" Dr. M innes Brandes responded, "Either way, as long as you maintain the head-neck relationship. Start with the thought, it's through the thought that you will be able to make a difference." During the remainder of rehearsal I observed a student tuck her feet together, with one knee bent inward and hands behind her as she prepared to sing her so lo, which sounded c lear and light, but smal l and thin. I drew attention to her use as I reminded the choir of the need for solid support in the body to s ing. Kevan , whose solo was, by contrast, becoming more resonant each time I heard him, appl ied his understanding s o far of ba lanced, re leased stance. A s the rehearsal cont inued, I noted much compromised posture. Students stood on the insides and outsides of feet, one with toes pointing inward, one with arms c rossed on her belly, and s o m e were in a s ide-swayed stance. Most of the sample of respondents and a few 44 participants were attentive to their use. Recalling awareness throughout the rehearsal seemed pertinent to consistent good use. 4.1.4 "Much more power and energy" Direction in the Alexander Technique is not a muscular action, but is allowing an activity to occur. To "think up" is to let the spine lengthen and widen. Over time, as AT directing is learned, students translate it as "an energizing which precedes and accompanies ordinary muscular activity" (De Alcantara, 1997, p. 59). Alexander's own performances, as he implemented the directions of the technique, demonstrated an energized, ringing speaking voice and released fluidity of movement (Hudson, 2002, p. 109). Choir students reported evidence of greater ease and energy in their vocalizing during the fourth week. I gathered the choir on the risers and led them to stretch up each side while reaching overhead. After jogging on the spot, I asked the students to bend over, let their bodies hang, feeling the breath drop into the belly and expand the back. We stood to "think up!" and to gain the solid support of the floor. Session five in week four began with Dr. Minnes Brandes giving verbal directions to the choir while they warmed up, and it continued with three student demonstrations and regular rehearsal. She directed the choir alternately to "think up the spine, soften the knees, release the jaw, free the neck, lengthen the spine," and "smile behind the eyes." Julia sensed that she didn't push her throat and her sound was freer. Roseanne, a confident soprano, noticed her sound was more resonant when "smiling behind the eyes." The directive to "smile behind the eyes," (Alexander's word was just "smile"), 45 al lowed a sensat ion of opening at the back.of the head and cheeks , a freeing of the neck, and it affected tone resonance and range. Kevan reflected, "When I kept my head forward and up, along with the "smile behind the eyes , " I felt that I could sing higher notes than before with ease . " Kathryn noticed her brighter sound. Another student hesitantly asked , "How do we re lease the neck?" Dr. Minnes Brandes answered, "You think it!" Students found the A T directives helped them to find poise "without pushing" and al lowed them "to become looser in a way that is different from when we simply stretch." Students interpreted "soften the knees" with some confusion, some placing or holding knees in a bent posit ion, others releasing or unlocking. A l lan , who in the previous week did not yet s e e a connect ion to his singing, found "think up along the sp ine" to be the most helpful instruction. He observed: It forces me to remember that my back, neck, and jaw are all connected like one large organism sort of (I a lways s e e m to imagine a worm), and that they all effect each other when relaxed or t ightened. It helps align the body and relaxes you so you can sing more naturally. Severa l s ingers made connect ions to their breathing in week four. Kathryn considered her exper ience in her journal: I think the A lexander Techn ique dea ls mostly with the way w e breathe. Personal ly , I feel that the air goes through right down to my s tomach when my neck is straightened. . . O n the other hand, if my neck has bended or leaned forward, the air doesn' t go through as smoothly as it should have. David exper ienced the monkey posit ion used in A T during his demonstrat ion for the c lass that week. "Pay attention to your legs. What 's happening?" asked Dr. M innes Brandes . David noticed his left leg holding or leaning. S h e had him put his hands on her back and hip joint as she shifted weight. S h e thought "up" to re lease 46 her knees, then leaned forward and stuck her hips out. "This is what I don't want you to do!" Dr. M innes Brandes then demonstrated leading with her head, and let her arms hang. David was led into a monkey position with his s ide to the choir. He sang in the posit ion and sa id he "felt s o much more air go in" and "through," and he felt it was "much eas ier to breathe, rather than in my normal posit ion." His breath increased, his strain dec reased , and he enthused, "It felt great!" However, he subsequent ly had inconsistent results trying to translate that exper ience into his upright singing posit ion. A n n a connected her breath to s tance a s wel l . "If my feet, my weight, is ba lanced then I tend to be more straight and then the passage tends to be more open, " she sa id , "so more breath, and more sound, definitely." Others noted increased or "better air flow." O n e student demonstrat ion received notable comment in the journals. A l lan wrote: I think it was really cool , how when Dr. Brandes worked with Jul ia the tone of her vo ice changed, it s e e m e d less distant, more bright, and clearer. Ji l l ian descr ibed her observat ions: Dr. Brandes put her hands-on her neck and back as she walked and sang . At first, the sound came out in a rough tone. It could be that she was not warmed-up so well then. After a couple of rounds, I heard the distinctive changes in her voice. The sound c a m e out brighter with much more power and energy. There was one moment when I felt that she suddenly opened up her whole system for singing, and the air was flowing without any obstruction from her s tomach to the throat, then out the mouth. I know that I could not have possibly felt what she felt, but I felt it in her voice. Ju l ia herself enthused, "That felt good! My back opened up!" Rick, new to choir, stated flatly that it was "weird." Dr. M innes Brandes affirmed that a new exper ience 47 could be uncomfortable because it is unfamiliar to our habitual use and faulty kinesthetic sense . Student application of the A lexander principles was most consistent during warm up, observable in the choir 's s tance, and audible in their energized tone. Through the rest of rehearsal heads were often down into the mus ic folders as students worked on new music. Holding the mus ic folder and concentrat ing on learning new parts were cha l lenges to s ingers ' awareness and practice of good use. However, Ji l l ian wrote that this week 's A T lesson taught her "a lot about singing and the technique, how they relate and benefit each other." Al lan perceptively noted, "I'm a m a z e d at not only how much difference a little thinking can make but a lso at the fact that you have to make time to think, otherwise it won't work." The choir 's kinesthetic awareness had increased by week four, and students reported that re lease of unnecessary tension, increase in breath, and greater resonance of tone were being felt most consistently in the warm up and during the singing of memor ized or familiar repertoire where the interference of mus ic folders was not an issue. 4.1.5 A c c u m u l a t i n g attention W e e k five of the study included two sess ions in which students demonstrated an accumulat ion of similar observat ions and exper iences that helped to consol idate their understanding. The sound of the choir improved, and students readily expressed the language of directed use. I observed that those who served as 48 respondents, as well as a few other keen singers, appl ied the directions most consistently throughout a rehearsal . S e s s i o n six began with feedback from students, two final student demonstrat ions for the choir, then vocal warm up with Dr. M innes Brandes moving around the choir working with random students. Rick, an athletic student, quest ioned the connect ion of A T to his use during "pushups" or in more strenuous exert ion. Dr. M innes Brandes asser ted that in everything you do, you could choose to think and do in a more consc ious manner. Y o u could ask, "Do I e longate or do I contract?" to become aware of any habit, and then have cho ices in changing it. Ji l l ian sang while Dr. M innes Brandes did hands-on work with her for the choir to observe. Dr. Minnes Brandes asked her to pay attention to her knees, to observe whether they went forward or back, to the left or right. Ji l l ian noted more weight on her right knee. I could s e e her attention going inward as she explored. A s Jil l ian sang Dr. M innes Brandes felt her back move forward and away from the hand that supported it, and Ji l l ian's back "shortened." "A full breath m e a n s 'stay here, '" Dr. Minnes Brandes sa id , then asked her to re lease and soften her knees. Bending her knees a little, again the student sang . S h e reported that she felt more centered, like a string was suspending her, and felt her sound "came out better" and was "louder." Al lan a lso heard a "difference" in her singing, which previously had "sounded distant and the sound didn't really s e e m to come out very clear." Another student noted that Jil l ian "opened up at the end, " that a "more open sound" could be heard. The unfamiliarity of new ways of using themselves while singing often felt uncertain to the students. Jil l ian commented: 49 It felt very awkward because my knees, now bent a bit, felt as if they were going to co l lapse any moment. The strong support of my body, which was the 'straight' knees , d isappeared. Kathryn was the second student who participated in the demonstrat ion. S h e asked , "How am I supposed to s tand?" Dr. M innes Brandes explained that saying "free the neck" was important because to say "straight" or "straighten" caused us to respond with t ightness. Say ing "free," however, re leased or brought re lease. S h e a lso reminded us to think of the neck as a part of the back, not as a part of the head, and that the relationship between the head, the neck, and back integrated everything e lse. Dr. Minnes Brandes observed that Kathryn thought of using the abdomen and d iaphragm a lot, and that she 'd taught herself to do it. In the monkey posit ion, using A T directions, and letting her a rms dangle, Kathryn sang again. Kathryn descr ibed her exper ience: I found the image of pulling yourself up helpful because I felt a bit taller when I fol lowed the direction and my body also felt more straightened yet not s t ressed, nor overworked. The process s e e m e d almost indescr ibable because everything happened so naturally without putting any significant amount of effort in. I found that my tone came out much brighter and it felt more natural. Al though it didn't feel as comfortable as before, I found that I didn't have to work as hard. Pe rhaps I have a lways been overworking mysel f while s inging. A s David observed Kathryn's habits of breathing use, he identified his own. T h e s e two students had been in the choral program for three to four years and had studiously appl ied the abdominal-d iaphragmat ic-costal breath management that I taught. David wrote: W e both think more on the belly, and more about breathing, rather than posture, center of gravity, etc. S h e looked like she w a s using a lot of effort to sneak in s o m e of those breaths. W h e n she "initiated" monkey posit ion, her breathing s e e m e d much more relaxed. 50 Al lan a lso commented on the changes in Kathryn's breathing: I think I noticed how she breathed more easi ly. I'm not sure how to explain it. S h e just didn't s e e m to have to squ ish the air out of her as much when she was breathing, which is something I find that I somet imes do. W h e n Dr. Brandes worked with the singer in front of us I could really hear a difference. S h e was able to hit the high notes much more easi ly and her transitions from lower voice to head voice were much smoother. During vocal warm up I gave directives to the choir as they stood around the c lass room, while Dr. M innes Brandes circulated among the students and did hands-on work with random singers. I led from the piano and noticed students were inconsistent in feet posit ioning, so I readdressed s tance with feet apart, and I gave directives such as "think up, free the neck, lengthen the back, soften the knees" and "re lease the jaw" as they breathed and sang. W h e n Dr. M innes Brandes asked for feedback, an otherwise quiet student hesitantly descr ibed that as her head was "lifted" while receiving hands-on direction she had to shift her ba lance, her weight. Ju l ia said she felt the tone to her "nose and up all the way," and she gestured with her hand cupped in front of her face. The warm up f inished with a canon, and I noticed the sound of the choir was pleasurably ringing with resonance. The students not iced, too. "I heard the sound grow richer," wrote L i sa , who felt her "head tilted" by Dr. M innes Brandes and sensed her ba lance shift "more towards the center." A l lan offered: I could hear a different tone not only in my voice, but in the voice of the whole choir. It was a really interesting sensat ion to be part of a whole group who sang better. 51 Attention to ba lance and scanning the body for tension were more consistent in week five, though habits of head-neck use prevai led. David made an observat ion of other choir students: I notice for some people (whenever I go to the back row to sing during practices) that they stick their neck and head out, they lift their shoulders whenever they need to breathe deeply and quickly, and they a lso s e e m to force their tone if they want to get louder. David, however, said that whenever he would think the direction "release the neck," "I could actually feel my neck slightly relax." He then made a connect ion as he real ized, " O h , I do get more resonance when I'm more relaxed, yeah, I feel it more alive in my body." A n n a a lso commented that as she sang "the higher notes now it's definitely a lot easier ," and she doesn' t "have to push that much." Increasing awareness of the relationship between head -neck -back was evident in student thinking. Prev ious to this, David wrote that he had "never thought of the neck to be part of the spine/back," but the relationship was now sensed as one part affected another: . . . I notice that when I adjust my back, my neck adjusts with it, and then my head. Never the less, it w a s too fast to really catch if one is not paying enough attention to it. Kathryn con fessed : A t first, I didn't quite get how to free my neck b e c a u s e it s e e m e d quite impossib le to just tell my mind to do so. However, as time went by, it s e e m e d eas ie r to just let my body take over and focus less on how to posit ion mysel f in an exact way. In sess ion seven , I asked students what they were doing and thinking to prepare as we warmed up. R e s p o n s e s were quick and e n c o m p a s s e d loosening the body, freeing the neck, unlocking the knees, "moving" the head forward and up, 52 relaxing the jaw, and making the feet equal . Another student sa id , "straighten," and , querying further on that, " re lease" was suggested. Dr. M innes Brandes reminded s ingers to let the arms hang down. W e cont inued warming up on a sca le , humming, then with vowels, and there was greater sound. There was freer tone. There was colour. W e asked for feedback, and students remarked that their sound was fuller, richer. M a x felt more resonance in his head, and another s inger sensed the notes moved more smoothly. Through O Canada I heard the tone of the choir shift in and out of resonance and blend as the students sang parts and text. Ji l l ian wondered: W h y does our sound quality a lways go down when we start to catch the words? A re we capable of multitasking when we s ing, trying to memor ize the words, relax our body, and think of the tone and the m e s s a g e all at the s a m e t ime? Throughout the choir rehearsal , the s tance of most s ingers was sol id and there was improved sound in their comfortable ranges. The sopranos ' tone thinned out in a melodic ascend ing leap when their vowel s p a c e changed. I noticed greater d imension of tone and volume from the tenors in their mid-range when they rehearsed a melodic sect ion. Student d iscuss ion of the application of A T at the end of this sess ion was animated. R o s e a n n e told the c lass that when playing piano she got very sore shoulders. There was a murmuring across the choir as many students responded to this. Many played piano or str inged instruments. Jay , who is a cell ist and pianist, smugly commented that if you had good technique you wouldn't have problems. R ick l inked the principles to the use of his knees as a basketbal l player. Dr. M innes Brandes suggested that the A lexander Techn ique connected it all to how efficiently we used ourselves. 53 4.1.6 "Every th ing is in te rconnec ted" T h e foundational A lexander Techn ique principle is the use of the self, in which the use of your vo ice reflects the concerted activity of every part, of your whole self, even "who you are" (De Alcantara, 1997, p. 12). Students in the choir gave ev idence of this understanding by the end of the sixth and final week of the study. The final sess ion instructor, M s . Sandra Head , remarked that, for her as a singer, the A lexander Techn ique w a s about looking for an eas ier way. It w a s to think about how we do what we do, to ask, "What makes singing eas ie r?" Apply ing A T to s inging w a s not to just go after a goal , but to attend to how you get there a s equal ly important. Students stood and spread across the risers and onto the floor for a warm up led by M s . Head . Dr. M innes Brandes worked with various students as they breathed and sang . M s . H e a d asked s ingers to cons ider the exhalat ion a s the start of the breath. S h e said it takes a long time to get comfortable in our bodies, and we forget to exhale , to rid ourse lves of the used air. Students were directed to p lace their hands-on ribs at the side and notice what happened. A s the students breathed, M s . H e a d directed them to "just play, observe, don't try to get a s much air." A s the choir repeated a s imple five-note passage , M s . Head noted that s o m e students were inhaling too much . I observed that s o m e new choir students cont inued to use clavicular breathing. I noticed M s . Head 's deliberate choice to avoid end-gaining language when leading an exerc ise , a s an invitation to explore, not to "get it right," and she asked s ingers to simply "notice." "Inhale gently," she suggested as they 54 moved through the exerc ises. "Find out how little you can do or get away with. Don't try to p lease me!" S h e warned students not to intellectualize their way through a difficult phrase, but to go into what they felt, to become aware of sensat ion. S h e suggested that the simple act of scanning the body would al low s o m e of the tension to dissipate and that even just observing w a s the beginning of a "letting go" p rocess . Dr. M innes Brandes asked for feedback, and Jul ia stated that A lexander Techn ique had made a major change in her singing. Ju l ia 's p rocess is detai led later in this chapter. In written and interview responses, s ingers reported they were beginning to incorporate the principles of coordinated use. Their concept of "good posture" expanded from "sit up straight" to a more inclusive v iew that "it is the way we use our body that makes us feel the most comfortable and exerts the least energy and is thus efficient." A l lan reflected that, "s ince we began the A lexander Techn ique I have just become really aware of my neck and body and how everything is interconnected." David, the previously " tense" tenor, summar ized his exper ience: The six weeks have basical ly been for me the development of awareness to my whole body, and to adjust to where I a m relaxed, most "up," and where I am not straining any of the body parts, especia l ly the neck. He recal led that in the beginning he focused mostly on the "breathing area (i.e., abdominals) ," and now he was aware of the "neck area, p lacement of my feet, my knees, relaxing of shoulders, and on having the spine up (chin not up) so that the last vertebra is not being strained." His attention to preparation for singing changed "so that I don't have to use as much effort." 55 Straightening became a re leased lengthening which made breathing easier. A n n a learned that being straight "isn't about putting too much effort in the spine, back area, and overcompensate [sic], but rather finding a comfortable spot where the air passage is the most open and the back is lengthened to allow more air." S h e sensed that her breathing was "a lot smoother and easier, as well as that a larger amount of air may be taken in during inhaling when the head directs up and forward, which is down for me." Her interpretation of "forward and up" w a s opposi te a s she felt "shorter" during this direction. A l lan found that when he breathed before the start of a song, he somet imes overworked and needed to exhale because he'd inhaled too much air. He a lso noticed a habit that perhaps didn't serve his s inging: I think I work too hard in dropping my belly. I think I do it too much, to the point where I'm not quite sure if it's helping my breathing or if I just do it out of instinct. Explor ing replaced effortful posit ioning. "I am more consc ious - not critical -of my body when I s ing," L isa reflected. Al lan considered the new awareness he gained of his faulty kinesthetic s e n s e to be related to his habit of overwork: I naturally stand more relaxed now, with a loose jaw, loose knees, straight posture (but not stiff upright straight haha). I cal l it a s louching straightness because I still remember that day when I thought I was s louching but I was not. David explored his application of "soften the knees," and became aware of thinking "actually more around the knees as well , not just, like, posit ioning of the knees." Kathryn interpreted this direction as "bending" and felt that it "not only al lowed me to determine how I supported my body but a lso helped me fix my habit of overworking one side of my body and not balancing wel l ." 56 Students' notice of changes in vocal tone varied widely. Allan wasn't sure of changes in his singing, but after noting vibration at the back of his neck on low notes and on the roof of his mouth on higher notes commented, "I think I feel a richer tone when I utilize the technique properly." Anna, who had breathy vocal tone, sensed an improvement when her head was released up and not looking down at music in her folder, but this was an intermittent experience. Julia felt greater ease in her upper range as she released her jaw and sensed more resonance. "I feel this, like, ringing in my head, it's more open," she said in her final interview. Kathryn wrote of both her doubts and her sense of vocal improvements after the Alexander Technique lessons: At first, I doubted how thinking could alter our singing habit, but my thoughts have totally changed after these six weeks. I found that my body and my mind worked together as a whole and my mind almost often influenced my body. The idea about thinking tall was also very helpful because it really helped me open up in singing and my tone was significantly brighter. I can hear that I now sing more forward (without being sharp). I feel that my voice is richer and I also feel that I've kind of found my "natural" voice. During the rest of the final rehearsal of the study, the choir reviewed notes and rhythms in preparation for an upcoming spring concert. Heads were looking down into the music, and the tone was generally not energized. I noted many pale, tired faces. The benefits of the technique seemed related to the sustenance of attention, even during concentration. Jillian reflected on the experience: I realized how important it is for us to be using our bodies the right way because ultimately, our bodies are the instruments of life. I think what I learned the past six weeks will benefit me in whatever I do, and especially when I sing. 57 4.2 Rev iew a n d preview I have shown thus far that the choir 's exper ience of a process of A lexander Techn ique lessons in rehearsal , presented here from student journals, interviews, in-c lass responses, and my observat ions during the study, benefited their understanding of how they use " themselves", how they s ing, and their development of voca l ski l ls. The students reported and demonstrated increased awareness of their use. From my observat ion, the choir exper ienced the most consistent changes in their head-neck-back poise, and to a varied extent exper ienced developments in breathing and tone production skil ls, as their understanding and appl icat ion of the A lexander principles evolved. The v ideotapes from both week one and week six revealed that when the direction to think up along the spine was given to the choir on warm up exerc ises , on chords being tuned, or during rehearsal when a p a s s a g e w a s being reworked, the tone was less pushed or forced, the blend of vo ices improved, and the sound increased in resonance and colour. T o provide further perspect ives on how choral students' voca l ski l ls deve loped through the p rocess of A lexander Techn ique lessons, I will descr ibe the individual exper iences of two students who were respondents in this study. The p rocess of Ju l ia , a tenth grade student singing soprano, and Kevan , an eleventh grade student singing baritone, will be detailed in a week-by-week account. 4.3 Ju l i a Jul ia is a fifteen-year-old of Korean background who has participated in high schoo l choir for two years. S h e is a lso a violinist in the schoo l orchestra, "used to 58 play piano," and enjoys singing pop songs at karaoke in her spare time. S h e enthused, "I'm always constantly singing, like, 2 4 - 7 ! " Jul ia has been singing s ince she w a s a chi ld; she participated in schoo l choirs in e lementary grades, and received private voice training for a short t ime as a girl. W h e n she exper ienced s o m e vocal strain or fatigue, saying she had "some problem with my throat" at about 10 years of age, she quit l essons because "I a lways, like, yell and sc ream and like, just sing loud. I think I over-use my voice a little b i t . . . so my voice was really husky during that time." With some rest, she regained her singing voice. A t the beginning of this research, Ju l ia descr ibed her singing exper ience a s "tight" in her back and shoulders, and she exper ienced "a lot of tension" under her chin ("my neck," "right in front of the vocal cords"). S h e recognized a difference between her voca l tone production in pop music and in choir: I think it's different when I'm singing in a group than when I'm singing like a pop song , ' cause I love to s ing R & B and pop, and when I do that I'm more, like, stronger than when I'm singing in a group. I think my voice is a lot softer, like, smoother when I'm singing in a choral group . . . it's more breathy. A s she prepared to sing Jul ia expla ined that she would "try to just think, like, relax and let go of my shoulders, just stand straight," and try to "lift up" her head. Ju l ia exp ressed that she w a s most aware of controll ing her breath a s she sang and that her abdominal musc les would get tired: I find running out of breath I usually try to stay on and then I feel my abs and my back kind of tightening. I try to hold on to the note, yeah , that's what happens. S h e inhaled primarily with her mouth, ' "cause I can inhale more" and it was "kinda too loudly" on quick breaths, as she o b s e r v e d , " I kind of like use my throat a little bit 59 . . . it's not like a natural inhaling thing." Jul ia was aware of the vibration of resonance whi le singing in her higher range as a "buzz in my nose," and at the "top of my head, " and a lso of "pushing forward" with her throat in the lower range. Her exper ience of voca l fatigue occurred more when singing pop music, but "usual ly not" in choral rehearsal , perhaps due to her vocal efforts to "not overwhelm other people, but just try to make it, like, b lend in more." 4.3.1 "More energized" Over the course of the s ix-week research period, Jul ia became increasingly aware of her body use and her habits, and she noticed the effect of this on her s inging. After the first week of two A lexander Techn ique lessons introducing the head-neck-back relationship, or primary control, and ba lanced s tance, Ju l ia noted: I just kind of real ized I lean forward a lot. My ba lance is usually on my toes. I haven't noticed that before. A n d then it tenses up my musc les in my back. After finding a centered ba lance, she felt her breath came more easi ly and her body w a s more "relaxed". Her s inging felt "a lot c learer and smoother than normal," and her upper range "a bit easier . " However, as attention went to the mus ic during the rehearsal , she let her posture sway. W e e k two included hands-on work with random singers from Dr. M innes Brandes , while the choir sang through a voca l warm up. Ju l ia did not receive hands-on direction, but "watched carefully and appl ied" what the instructor was doing with the other students. Her attention went to "straightening out her spine," and to her ba lance. S h e heard that her voca l sound became "a bit more deep," "more 60 projected," and that she felt "more energ ized and refreshed during singing." Ju l ia made a connect ion between her habit of "lifting her head, " pushing for higher notes, and her exper ience of tension in the "neck and chin area" . S h e observed "after trying to straighten my head, I had less tension in the neck area and also at the back." 4.3.2 "Not iceable improvement" In the third week three students worked with Dr. M innes Brandes as demonstrat ion models for the choir to observe. Ju l ia , an observer in this sess ion , noted var ious tendencies of s ingers to move with one knee bent inward or to push the head forward. Afterward, watching herself in a mirror sitting and standing, she b e c a m e aware of her own forward movement of the head. A t the choir 's festival performance that week, Ju l ia "consc ious ly tried to adjust" her head and "keep it a l igned" with her back as she sang , and she found that "there was not iceable improvement in the tension that I usual ly feel in my chin." In the fourth week, Jul ia worked with Dr. M innes Brandes in front of the c lass . S h e found the exper ience "a bit awkward," but gained knowledge of some of her "habits" while singing. Initially in this sess ion Dr. M innes Brandes gave direct ives to the whole choir during warm up, after which Jul ia commented that she exper ienced a "freer" sound and sa id , "I didn't push my throat." Direct ions such as "free the neck," "think up along the spine," " re lease the jaw," and "smile behind the eyes " were noted by Jul ia as helpful for relief of tension, greater resonance of tone, and improved breathing. S h e wrote: 61 I felt that the tension in my chin has been greatly al leviated after I tried to re lease my jaw and lengthen my spine and neck. A l so , what I found very effective was to think "smile behind the eyes , " and I felt that it immediately caused the sound to come up to my face, and I felt a buzz and ringing in my face. W h e n I became aware of my neck and back, especia l ly the jaw during the warm up and after, my breathing became more deep and control led, and my sound was a lso affected. Ju l ia reported similar exper iences during her hands-on work that week a s wel l : W h e n Dr. Brandes adjusted my head as I was singing and walking at the s a m e time, my tone became more resonant and brightened. I think when she opened that passage up I felt it coming all the way from my lung to my face, which I didn't feel before. Like, I felt the breath traveling along my spine, yeah . Walk ing while she was support ing my neck and straightening my back helped me to a lso pay attention to my ba lance and posture as I moved. 4.3.3 " O p e n u p " At her mid-study interview, Jul ia confirmed that she thought more about her body and her ba lance, not just while standing, but in all her movements . S h e "mentally prepared more" for s inging. S h e thought less of "pushing and being really rigid," more of "opening it up," and that her neck tensions were "definitely" eas ing . Illustrations and verbal descr ipt ions of A lexander Techn ique principles a ided Ju l ia 's understanding of the head-neck-back relationship: I s a w the pictures and I try to align my head so it's in line with my back and my bone structure . . . I try to think that it's one bone, not two separate bones, like what she sa id . S o that really he lped, too. Jul ia recognized, however, that the tensions in her back were still present. S h e sa id , "I get it for a few minutes but I return to my old habits. It's hard for me to carry it out." Ju l ia began to sense a connect ion between her neck and her jaw, and her breathing was less constr icted. A s she would re lease her neck, she felt "the air 62 actually reaching down and coming up." S h e confirmed a we lcome and significant relief of chin tension as she re leased her jaw more. "I can definitely feel that I open up more. I haven't noticed any tension on my chin s ince the A T lessons. " Jul ia felt she had better control, more resonance, more air, and that it was connected to her ba lance and lengthening of the spine, which she was not aware of before. W h e n I'm lingering on a note, I can feel that l e a n hold onto a note, and quiet down, and control my breath more. That 's definitely what 's been happening. A n d also when I'm trying to sing loudly, it's definitely helping to get my tone like, ringing and resonant, not just, like, high pitched and loud. A n d it's more just, um, c lean and smooth sounding, and warm and bright. It's definitely different than how I used to sing the high notes, especial ly high notes. I can definitely tell the difference between when I don't try to straighten my upper back and try to push on my throat. A t mid-point in the study Ju l ia descr ibed the expanding awareness with which she made connect ions between use and function: If you're pushing yourself, if you're tense, you're not using your body, like, wel l . It's being aware of how you use your body parts and how your body works together to produce sound and voice. S h e "constantly" reflected on her body use. Her understanding of being "re laxed" had been a "habit of, like, releasing everything," and she began to recognize that it was "actually straining your back." S h e spoke confidently about understanding her exper ience as she expressed , "I know that ' cause I do that! I feel the tension in my back when I do that." Her image of freeing the neck was "like a string, and then you lift your head up, yeah , like your head 's in the air, and you're freeing it!" During the student demonstrat ions in the fifth week Jul ia observed that the students put strain on their bodies in different p laces and reflected on her own, paying attention to her ba lance and "checking for any straining." A s she "tried to 63 apply" freeing the neck, letting the head go forward and up, and lengthening by imagining a string "that pulls my whole body" she felt her sound resonating up the back of the neck and "to her face." S h e could feel the breath "coming eas ie r and lasting longer" and heard that the sound from her and the whole choir was "just so much better." The final sixth week brought new awareness around breathing and overwork. M s . Head led the warm up, asking s ingers to consider an exhalat ion as the start of the breath. Ju l ia wrote: Exhal ing before inhaling at first was a little uncomfortable because I was not used to it, but as I adjusted my breathing I noticed that I became more efficient in the way I use my breath, and somet imes I had a lot of breath left to exhale. Though Jul ia felt her back and neck tens ions had " improved tremendously," s h e still sensed that she worked too hard to straighten her back. "Whenever I think of 'straightening' my body, I pull my back forward." 4.3.4 "Take the time to think about your body" O n review of the unit of lessons, Ju l ia reflected that it was after five sess ions that she began to integrate the concepts. In our final interview she recal led: I think it was , like, week three or four it became really c lear to me, it c l icked in my mind a s w e went on what it w a s about. Before, I just thought I have to not use my voice too much, and not drink anything that's bad for your voice. But now I know that it's my body use and how I use my body more related to my voice. S o , I pay more attention to my body, not just how I use my throat only. W h e n I first started it was kinda hard ' cause I had to keep reminding myself, but later it became kinda natural to me, so I really want to keep doing that in my singing and make that into a good habit! 64 Overal l , Jul ia felt less tension in her back and neck, and she felt her amount and control of breath improve. The squeeze for breath at the ends of phrases e a s e d . "I think that's completely gone," she sa id , as she cons idered, "It's like straining your body!" S h e exper ienced more resonant tone, and descr ibed it as clear, ringing, and "more open. " Jul ia felt that her lower range had extended and her higher range was eas ier due primarily to a releasing of her jaw. S h e stated emphatical ly, " Jaw -1 think that's the mos t improvement I've made." Her exper ience of vocal fatigue was connected to a lack of attention to her body use. "If I don't pay attention to mysel f more," she conc luded, "I get tired." The most pertinent A lexander Techn ique principles for Jul ia were increased kinesthetic awareness and thinking the directions of re leasing the head-neck, lengthening the spine, and releasing the jaw. Re leas ing the jaw was "really practical, you can really feel it, feel a difference." Smi l ing behind the eyes w a s noted as helpful as well . Her understanding of posture expanded from "straightening and adjusting" to "reorganizing your body to make it very efficient, not just physical ly straightening your neck or back." The most confusing direction for Jul ia w a s to let the head go forward and up. S h e initially thought it was to "pull the neck back," then understood it as "aligning your spinal cord and neck." Her kinesthetic s e n s e was connected to her self-direction. A s she expla ined, "you don't just tell yourself to do it but you feel it in your body, how you can use your body to the fullest, not limit yourself." Jul ia expressed that the lessons provided a s p a c e for reflection in rehearsal and that she gained the most from increased body awareness . In her final interview and journal writing, she reviewed her exper ience: 65 It was really amaz ing to have the opportunity to explore your body, which normally you don't have time or effort to do. I think it's really essent ia l to know your self most, not anything e lse. Y o u always think of other people and what they think of you , but you have to really take the time to think about your body and yourself, and it's really like meditation more, giving attention to your body and your self. I think it made myself more aware of my body and how I use mysel f when I w a s singing because , like, before I was just about notes and getting it done and everything, but now I really know how I use my body when I'm singing. That 's really exciting for me! Apply ing what she tells you in your body and exploring and actually realizing what 's going on in your body, that was really excit ing! S ince I started the A lexander Techn ique lessons six weeks ago, I've become aware of how I use my body when I s ing. Th is exper ience has really given me great awareness about my body, and I will strive to keep applying the A lexander Techn ique in my singing and my daily life. 4.3.5 Summary Jul ia reported and I observed that her application of the A lexander Techn ique to singing in choral rehearsals brought significant benefits. T h e s e changes were clearly evident to her by mid-study, and they were further encouraged by her exper ience of individual work with Dr. M innes Brandes in sess ion five. Though her back tension cont inued intermittently, Ju l ia consistently became able to re lease tension "under the chin." Her breathing expanded in capaci ty and "control." Ju l ia s e n s e d greater e a s e of singing in her upper range, with less "pushing from the throat." Though at the start of the research Jul ia was aware of resonance in her upper range, she gradual ly felt an increase in this sensat ion. Jul ia ga ined awareness of her habits, and how her "body works together to produce sound and voice." I hope this will serve to continue her development of a healthy and coordinated voca l technique, which is central in choral pedagogy. 66 4.4 Kevan Kevan is a sixteen-year-old of Ch inese background who began singing at ten years old. He had no private voice lessons or previous choral singing exper ience. "I just like Ch inese pop music, so I started singing," Kevan expla ined, and has been singing in the high school choir for a year and a half. He plays piano and enjoys participating in mus ic at his church as well as singing karaoke with fr iends. At the outset of this research Kevan descr ibed his singing voice as "this thing inside me, I don't know where it's coming from." Singing is Kevan 's "pass ion, " and he exper ienced it at t imes as "kind of like giving your whole body, you kind of put all that into your voice." He prepared himself to sing by "thinking tall" and loose as he had learned in choir, and that his breath "has to go really down to the d iaphragm, and so , like, no shoulders up, breathing deep." Standing up stra ight" doesn' t feel that natural, it feels tension." Kevan was aware of his hips loosening as he sang, ' "cause it k inda feels different when I start to sing, it feels like it's bigger." In his comfortable pitch range, Kevan exper ienced sensat ions in "not only the lower part [of the torso], even the knees, the whole leg, it feels, really 'go with the note'." He sensed that his main areas of unnecessary tension were at the back of the neck and in his throat when singing loudly, and in his upper range. He commented, "If it's a really high note, then I don't know how to reach that without losing without that looseness . " After choir warm ups, Kevan sensed that "the voice is really eas ier to come out." He noted that his chest felt like it was pushing as he began to s ing, and that his tone was "kind of hollow, shal low," or "flat," and somet imes "really p ressed. " He descr ibed his sound further: 67 Somet imes when I give direction to it, wel l , somet imes I think it sounds really good , like very whole, kind of round sound. But somet imes it just feels that it's more tension when I have a direction, like go louder. W h e n I hear it, it doesn' t feel that great. 4.4.1 "Like a sculpture" In the first week Kevan became aware that he leaned back on his heels when he sang higher notes. Whi le exploring the full support of the floor more often in his s tance, he noted that his throat "did not [feel] sore after the rehearsals." H e a lso considered that this helped him "to get the breaths to go down deeper, because when I was singing my solo line I felt I had more breath than before and that breath lasted longer." He tried to "think up and forward" as he appl ied the A lexander Techn ique but conc luded that it w a s a hard thing to do. Recogn iz ing his habit of putting his head back frequently as he sang and in other daily activities, he tried to change it, but "it s e e m e d impossib le." Kevan had doubts about how effective only eight sess ions would be. By the second week, Kevan noticed a sense of ba lanced weight, and he "felt like a sculpture in a sense that every joint/bone felt good and rested upon other bones. " Breath came from a deeper p lace in his body, "coming from the belly, not the chest." He wrest led with his straining habits: After c lass , though, my throat was very sore for a bit and then it became better after I drank some water. I noticed the so reness when I was stretching my neck to get the high E flat in the G e r m a n piece. I tried not to have tension, but if I don't put my posture that way I can't s ing loud enough to be heard over a distance. T h e rehearsals included learning new repertoire, and Kevan felt that "too many things were going on that distracted my attention to my head/neck posture." 68 In week three, Kevan was a demonstrat ion model as the choir observed Dr. Minnes Brandes working with his movement from sitting to standing. He exper ienced expending less energy in movement. He wrote: I felt as if my head was more ba lanced and it needed less energy to stay in that position (as supposed to forcing my back to be straight, i.e., soldier 's poise). W h e n I stood up from the sitting posit ion on the bench, I felt that it didn't take energy at all. I was dazz led at the time because I didn't know whether it was because Dr. Brandes pulled me up or because A T makes this much of a difference. W h e n I thought about it afterwards, I real ized that [it] couldn't be simply that she pulled m e up by the neck, b e c a u s e when I stood up, it didn't feel as if my neck was stretching. Th is possibly meant that my body fol lowed the head and stood up. Though while standing he frequently felt " loose," and applying the head-neck-back directions "seemed easy , " Kevan found he couldn't repeat the sit-stand exper ience on his own. His awareness of releasing the neck and lengthening the back intermittently eased his voice strain. In the quote that fol lows, Kevan clearly speaks about inhibition. H e acknowledges that once he recognizes that he is using himself poorly, he needs to stop doing that before approaching a new way to use himself: Before I started the A T lessons , I would ignore the sore throat that somet imes I got through singing. But now, because I am general ly more aware of my body use, I would stop and relax my body a little, especia l ly the neck part, and then try to sing the s a m e part again. Somet imes the voice would still sound pushed, so I stop and relax more. But other t imes I could perceive an obvious difference in my tone, that the voice sounds more round and resonant. 4.4.2 "The note just conies" In week four, Kevan connected with two helpful direct ions given to the choir during the vocal warm up. The back of his head "felt instantly open" as he sang with 69 a "smile behind the eyes . " Kevan recognized that it was when he sang ascend ing sca les that his throat would "somet imes start to [feel] sore." H e further observed that when he kept his head forward and up, "along with the smi le behind the eyes , I felt that I could sing higher notes than before with ease . " He continued to notice increased breath capacity, that it seemed to "last longer than before," and that he could "sneak a quick breath and go for a semi- long phrase." His appl icat ion of the direction to "soften the knees" was to bend them, which created "tension everywhere" for Kevan as he "couldn't really get the feel ings of soften my knees without bending them." He remarked that directing attention to his body became difficult through the rehearsal . He wrote: I definitely felt that the warm up w a s different from the rest of the rehearsal , because in the warm up I could connect to mysel f (inner body) more than when I was singing actual p ieces. Kevan gained from recogniz ing habits that were related to his lack of efficient use of himself. He real ized, after observing a student demonstrat ion with the instructor, that he would "push the voice out instead of letting it go out naturally." Kevan sensed extra tension in his neck and chest as he did this, so he "started trying to stay in the s a m e posit ion" when he sang . Though the technique wasn' t confusing to him, he thought it was "very hard for one to practice." At the mid-study interview, Kevan revealed studious appl icat ion of thinking up and forward. He "checked" his "posture at each phrase ending." He was aware of an upward direction from his hips and a downward direction through his legs while he let his hands "drop and feel the gravity pull." To feel the full support of the floor he " re leased" his knees. Kevan reported that he shifted his weight less and "now it's 70 kind of, it feels like, sol id." He began to make connect ions between his ba lance and the po ise of his head. H e commented : "If I could feel the support from the floor it's eas ier to re lease the back of my neck, ' cause I wouldn't feel that I need tension to make my head stand." Kevan felt that the direction to lengthen the back was "kind of connected to free the neck because when I free the neck it feels like the whole back is kinda straight." He became aware of the "inner parts of the body and what they do when you do different act ions," and he tried not to "make unnecessary tensions." Kevan connected his body s tance to an improved flow of air as he descr ibed his breath "going up straight, like there's no obstac les for the breath going up," and that it felt "like a tube." His quick inhalations were deeper, giving him "more power" so that he didn't have to "work very hard to get the note out" or, "like before," co l lapse the chest to "push the voice out." There was a re lease of some tension in his throat as he sang higher or louder. A s Kevan would think "tall and up," he noticed that it "feels like the back of my head is open and so it's like the note just comes . " He felt his voice was more resonant because of dec reased tension. In his habitual co l lapsed posit ion Kevan sa id he could feel vibration in his voca l cords. A s he re leased "up" in his poise, he felt "like the tone is everywhere." He thought it sounded more "pure," a s in "very c lear and one note," and that it w a s "eas ier to blend with other people than if it's really pushed. " 71 4 . 4 . 3 "A full circle" Kevan received a few seconds of hands-on guidance during a vocal warm up in week five that revealed a difference between his perception of his use and where his habits were still in ev idence. He wrote: Before her hands adjusted my posit ion, I thought that my posture w a s very good and my head was re leased, but I did feel that s o m e part was weird and doesn' t feel loose. W h e n Dr. Brandes started adjusting, I immediately real ized that my chest was too co l lapsed even though my head was thinking up. W h e n I readjusted my torso, I felt better and more "in posit ion." He became aware of a change in his response as he sent the directions to himself: At one time when I sa id , " re lease my neck," I felt my musc le more contracted and then loosen bit by bit. I think my body is trained to the "I will work hard and try as much as possib le to do what the brain says . " But now when I say, " re lease the neck," I think of "let go" and it re leases just like that! He a lso was conv inced that "we really need someone to help us to get the right posture" because of the "d iscrepancy in the posture one pictures him/herself [as having] and the posture s/he really has." His observat ion of s ingers next to him in the choir a ided his understanding as he heard a "pushed" sound and then saw misuse in the s ingers ' head-neck-back reminding him of the "how-to-get-a-sore-throat picture." Kevan thought that the "best sound comes out when the body is natural and not all tensed up." At the final interview, Kevan said his turning point in understanding c a m e in week three during his demonstrat ion with Dr. M innes Brandes, because to that point it had been "really hard to figure out by yourself." Kevan referenced that exper ience for "how to think up." Kevan ' s preparation for singing by the end of the study included thinking, " loosen my neck" as well as " re lease the knees." He would continue to think up 72 while singing and "just let the sound come out instead of, like, really pushing it." Though Kevan w a s general ly " loose" before the study, his awareness of it changed : "Now when I think, " loosen" I don't actually contract the musc le , but actually think free the musc le . " H e ga ined a concept of posture that required less effort or "constant energy to keep." "Posture can be a very natural thing," Kevan conc luded, as opposed to his previous concept of straight as "tense." Kevan ' s use of breath a lso became easier , as he didn't "try as hard to breathe, and just let the breath fall in." The instruction in the final sess ion to think that the breath started with exhal ing facilitated this e a s e "because it wasn' t pushed in, so it's eas ier to go out as wel l . " Kevan reported that his habit of "pushing" the voice still occurred, particularly in the extreme high range, but that it was "definitely becoming better and eas ier to s ing higher." In his comfortable range he noticed a new quality that he descr ibed feeling as a "full circle," compared to an " incomplete" s e n s e of his sound before. Kevan made a connect ion between intonation issues and his body use, so that when he was sharp he thought, "maybe I should loosen somewhere" or when he was flat he "should have more power." His concept of voca l tone had been "just the voice that comes out," but became "definitely related to the body, to the posture, to how you get the note." Kevan sensed that "the whole body affects your tone, not just your vocal cords." Overal l , Kevan stated that the p rocess of A lexander Techn ique lessons taught him how to sing more efficiently, with less work, and a "better sound." He compared his previous use to his current awareness : Before I would just think maybe sing louder, or maybe practice, and then really shout the sound out. But now I real ize I have to think more inward, like, get all the inner parts right, and then maybe I can get the notes. 73 4.4.4 Summary Kevan appl ied the A lexander Techn ique to his singing in choral rehearsal with apparent benefit to his vocal skill development. Integration of the concepts began as he gained a better ba lance in his s tance in the initial sess ions . His application of head-neck-back poise al lowed for an increase in breath capaci ty and e a s e of tone production. Kevan ' s "sore throat" was intermittently rel ieved as he began to s ing with less strain and his sensat ion of tone resonance expanded . Kevan thoughtfully observed and began to inhibit his habit of "pushing," leading him to suggest that the "best sound comes out when the body is natural and not all tensed up." After hands-on work in week three, Kevan became aware of his faulty percept ion at t imes, and of his need for gu idance into a new exper ience of use. The process of A lexander Techn ique lessons raised Kevan 's kinesthetic awareness and increased his coordinated use toward a healthier vocal technique. In the next chapter I will summar ize and d iscuss these f indings, and suggest implications for the practice of adolescent choral pedagogy. 74 5 SUMMARY In this instrumental c a s e study I explored how the appl icat ion of A lexander Techn ique lessons in the high schoo l choral rehearsal benefited adolescent voca l skil ls, and sought to d iscover what students' exper iences were of posture, breathing, and tone production in that process. I found that applying A lexander Techn ique lessons in the choral rehearsal benefited adolescent vocal skill development through increased awareness and direction of use, which al lowed for a re lease of straining tensions in the jaw, neck, back, and abdomen, increased breath capacity, and facilitated greater e a s e in sound production, along with increased sensat ions of tone resonance. Students ' exper ience of benefits seemed to be relative to their level of application and understanding of A lexander principles over the s ix-week study. Ev idence of benefits to the choir 's posture and sound seemed to be most consistently demonstrated in the vocal warm up. The outcomes of this study s e e m to reinforce the posit ive f indings of other investigations of the impact of A lexander Techn ique on voca l sound production (Lloyd, 1988; MacDona ld , 1997) and support similar recommendat ions for implementation of such principles in choral pedagogy (Conable , 2000; Jordan , 2005). F. M. A lexander recognized that habits of movement govern all our activities, and that consc ious direction in the use of the self would re-educate and re-energize the human "psycho-phys ica l organism." A s a choral teacher, I endeavor to cultivate new habits of muscular coordination in my students for breathing and tone production, and this study showed that students' adoption of A lexander 's principles for an integrated use of the self through awareness , inhibition, and direction serve 75 the development of these skil ls. In this chapter, I will present a summary of students' exper iences in the three areas of vocal skill that this study explored and descr ibe how student understanding of A T principles deve loped during the p rocess of A T lessons. I will then d iscuss observat ions on student responses and implications for choral teaching. 5.1 P o s t u r e Student reports indicated that a process of A lexander Techn ique lessons in the high schoo l choral rehearsal increased their kinesthetic awareness . Students became aware of their habitual self use in s tance, ba lance, and head-neck-back al ignment that contributed to unnecessary tension, and that impeded their development of voca l ski l ls. Students revealed that their concept of posture expanded from "standing straight" to an awareness and consc ious re-organization of the interrelationship of their head-neck-back, knees , and feet. Students became aware of shifting feet, weight, and tight knees that created tensions in the back, neck, and position of the head. The choir explored a body re-al ignment through the primary control directions to let the neck be free and to let the head go forward and up, so that the back might lengthen and widen. This approach contrasts with the concept of p laced position taught in many choral and voice programs (Col l ins, 1999; Phi l l ips, 2004; Thurman & W e l c h , 2000). A s students gained the full support of the floor through re leased knees and ba lanced weight, they reported varied improvements in breathing and tone production. A s students sensed gathering tensions, they began to inhibit or stop their habitual use and reorganized their 76 posture through sending A T directions with increasing effect iveness that re leased strain. From the midpoint of the study (three to four weeks) , after v isual, experiential, and verbal instruction, the choir increasingly demonstrated understanding of and consis tency in appl icat ion of A T principles to posture. Initially in the study, the choir demonstrated muscular over-work of the back and co l lapsed chest while standing "straight," and exper ienced some disorientation or confusion in thinking A T directions. A similar finding was reported in Lloyd's c a s e study (1988), that the initial "few weeks" of disorientation passed when singers began to understand the "value of re leases" (p. 114). The choir 's increased awareness of sel f -use created a starting p lace for choral students to begin choos ing to respond to the st imulus to sing with inhibition of their initial habit, then with A T directions that facil itated greater re lease from tensions that strained their vo ices. This addresses a prominent concern for choral and voice educators that poor postural habits and lack of kinesthetic awareness contribute to compensatory tensions and muscular ineff iciencies in voca l technique (Buchanan, 2005; Deeter, 2005; Doscher , 1994; Macdona ld , 1997; Smith and Sataloff, 2003). Students ' comments and my observat ions reveal that after voca l warm up, as the choir concentrated on note learning and reading mus ic through rehearsal , students' kinesthetic awareness of use became intermittent. Var ied appl icat ion of A T to posture through rehearsal was possibly related to the students' beginning s tage of awareness , and to the f requency of my recal l of student attention during rehearsal . Overal l , applying the A lexander Techn ique principles of kinesthetic 77 awareness , inhibition, and direction s e e m e d to facilitate for the choir an energ ized, dynamic exper ience of ba lanced poise that re leased unnecessary tension. T h e s e findings support Jordan 's (2005) call for creating inclusive and inner awareness , address ing muscular rigidity, and realigning the body through mind-body principles in chora l pedagogy. 5.2 Breath ing Student comments indicate that they exper ienced increased f low of breath through a process of applying of A lexander Techn ique lessons in the choral rehearsal . Both in-class reports and written reflections suggest that as students found their p lace of centered ba lance and "softened" their knees, greater e a s e of breathing and increased vo lumes of breath were exper ienced. A s attention was given to A T directions, summar ized in "thinking up along the spine," choir students reported the sensat ion of an open and unobstructed air passage . Students exper ienced exerting less effort for breath at phrase beginning, middle, and end points. Student written reflections reveal a possib le relationship between focus on abdominal breathing and muscular inefficiency. Responden ts reported a focus on and over-work of their abdominal musculature as they prepared and used the breath to sing in accordance with the breath management strategy that I taught. Students reported that less effort was exerted in the abdominal area and in the breath cyc le overal l through the course of A T lessons , as their attention expanded to directing the head-neck-back relationship, to allowing breath to refresh naturally rather than 78 taking it in, and to letting breath re lease. Th is exper ience s e e m s to suggest that habits of abdominal-d iaphragmat ic-costal breathing are possibly inducing unnecessary tension (Reid, 1992) and that as Heirich (2005) has suggested, an "exaggerated importance is attached to breath manipulat ion" (p. 33). It has been shown that breath capacity and tonal duration are positively affected by this breath management strategy (Phil l ips, 1992, 2004; Fett, 1993), and I now question how to teach this in the context of attention to the use of the whole self. A n initial strategy would be to adjust my use of language in teaching breath management from directive descript ions that may contribute to unnecessary muscular effort and tension (i.e., "lift the ribs," "expand and contract the abdomen, " "try to keep the chest high") to include invitations to re lease, notice, allow, and explore while "thinking up along the spine." J a m e s Jordan suggests "awareness reminders" in the forward to Conab le ' s The Structures and Movement of Breathing: A primer for choirs and choruses (2000, p. 10). S u c h a pedagogica l approach , without compromis ing accurate information about musculature and the vocal mechan ism, could facilitate student attention to the breathing and singing process with greater ease . 5.3 T o n e product ion Student reports suggest that an awareness of the relationship of the use of the whole self to tone production was gained. Students expressed that their focus during singing, prior to the process of A lexander Techn ique lessons, was on achieving a quality of sound in all registers and on the use of the "throat." A s choral students consc ious ly appl ied the A T directions in lengthening, balancing, and 79 releasing their whole use, s o m e changes were exper ienced in tone production. Students reported that as they re leased the jaw, for example, in combinat ion with thinking "up," and "smiling behind the eyes , " an increased vibration of resonance was felt in more areas of the head. "Thinking" the A T directions was a lso reported to facilitate greater e a s e in the production of higher notes for s o m e students. Two respondents connected singing sharp in pitch to unnecessary tension in their use. Students ' improved kinesthetic awareness and head-neck-back relationship seemed to facilitate these developments in their vocal sound production. T h e process of A T lessons in the choral rehearsal improved the tone quality of the choir as the A T principles of use were appl ied. A more resonant sound was reported by both participants and respondents, which I a lso observed. Th is supports Conab le ' s (2000) report of the "terrific difference embodiment makes in the quality of the s inging" when kinesthetic awareness of use is appl ied in the choir (p. 14). I observed inconsistency of tone production in the choir during repertoire work when student attention to use decl ined. The sound of the choir improved in r ichness most particularly during warm up when students' hands were free of mus ic folders and attention to use and vocal sound production was susta ined. 5.4 U n d e r s t a n d i n g of A l e x a n d e r T e c h n i q u e pr inc ip les This study's p rocess of A lexander Techn ique lessons facilitated a bas ic student understanding of A T principles of the use of the whole self, the relationship of the head-neck-back (the primary control), faulty kinesthetic awareness , inhibition of habitual reaction, and direction. The language and appl icat ion of A T direction was 80 m o s t u n d e r s t o o d , w h i l e t e r m s s u c h a s p r i m a r y con t ro l , fau l ty s e n s o r y a w a r e n e s s , inh ib i t ion , e n d - g a i n i n g , a n d m e a n s - w h e r e b y w e r e not u s e d . T h e cho i r s h o w e d i n c r e a s e d k i n e s t h e t i c a w a r e n e s s of the i r u s e a n d d e m o n s t r a t e d n e w a w a r e n e s s o f hab i t s . S t u d e n t s h a d s o m e c o n f u s i o n o v e r the i r e x p e r i e n c e of the " c o r r e c t n e s s " o f A T p o s t u r e t h r o u g h t he f irst ha l f o f the s t u d y , d e m o n s t r a t i n g fau l ty s e n s o r y p e r c e p t i o n , a n e n d - g a i n i n g o r i en ta t i on , a n d a d i so r i en ta t i on a s n e w e x p e r i e n c e c o n t r a s t e d wi th t he fami l ia r i ty o f the i r hab i t ua l u s e . T h i s g a v e w a y , a s the s t u d y p r o g r e s s e d , to g r e a t e r a t ten t ion to t he p r o c e s s o f the i r u s e in s i n g i n g a s s t u d e n t s b e g a n c o n s c i o u s l y d i rec t i ng t he h e a d - n e c k - b a c k in a d y n a m i c , b a l a n c e d re l a t i onsh ip . T h o u g h s t u d e n t s w e r e no t c o m p l e t e l y f a m i l i a r w i th t h e t e r m " p r i m a r y c o n t r o l " b y the e n d of the s tudy , t h e y u n d e r s t o o d its k e y ro le of a t ten t ion to the r e l a t i onsh ip o f t h e h e a d , n e c k , a n d b a c k . T h e " m e a n s - w h e r e b y " p r o c e s s o f inh ib i t ion a n d d i rec t i on w a s d e m o n s t r a t e d a s s t u d e n t s s t o p p e d to r e - o r g a n i z e the i r u s e in w a r m u p s a n d c o n s c i o u s l y a p p l i e d t h e A T d i r e c t i o n s . T h e c h o i r ' s u n d e r s t a n d i n g a n d a p p l i c a t i o n of A T d i r e c t i o n s w a s su f f i c ien t to r e l e a s e s o m e u n n e c e s s a r y t e n s i o n s in the i r s i n g i n g . I f o u n d that t h o u g h t he c h o i r s e e m e d a b l e to a p p l y t he v e r b a l a n d v i s u a l ins t ruc t ion in the A l e x a n d e r T e c h n i q u e , sh i f ts in the i r u n d e r s t a n d i n g o c c u r r e d m a r k e d l y a s s t u d e n t s e x p e r i e n c e d h a n d s - o n g u i d a n c e in the i r u s e . 5.5 D i s c u s s i o n a n d impl icat ions for chora l teach ing T h e se t t ing of th is c a s e s t u d y w a s c h a r a c t e r i s t i c o f a t yp i ca l c h o r a l r e h e a r s a l ; g r o u p ins t ruc t ion w a s u s e d a n d pa r t i c i pan t s w e r e o f v a r i o u s b a c k g r o u n d s a n d l e v e l s 81 of singing skil l. Instruction occurred after the regular schoo l day, or off the timetable, which is not uncommon in public high schoo l choral courses in the city where this study w a s conducted. S ince the research setting was consistent with that of a typical high schoo l choral rehearsal , the process of A lexander Techn ique lessons employed in this study may be beneficial in improving re leased, coordinated use for developing vocal skil ls in similar situations. 5.5.1 F r o m m i s u s e to g o o d u s e Increased kinesthetic awareness and application of A T directions improved student use, and led to students' re lease of over-work habits in the back, neck, jaw, and abdomen, and to increased breath capacity and sensat ions of tone resonance. Resu l ts similar to this but significantly greater were found by Lloyd (1988), w h o s e c a s e study appl ied thirty A lexander Techn ique lessons in private voice instruction with five adult students. S h e noted that "skills learned with ingrained tension habits will be dominated by those habits until such time as the A lexander re-education is strong enough and clear enough" to apply the principle of inhibition and "thereby al low the [new] skill to 'happen' " (Lloyd, 1988, p.142). I w a s a larmed at the habitual vocal strain reported by s o m e of the respondents at the outset of this study, as these were s ingers who had been under my tutelage for at least two years . Though I had consistently taught vocal technique in warm up for ten minutes each rehearsal , these reports suggested to me that choral students could continue in damaging voca l habits with little change, as I remained unaware of their individual exper ience and as I committed a majority of instructional t ime toward the program goal of preparing for 82 choral performances. That severa l students in the choir were able to begin inhibiting their habitual responses and coordinate themselves in an improved use after only eight sess ions suggests the possibil i ty of signif icant benefits to choral students' vocal development if A T were to be appl ied throughout the full school year. Responden ts ' interaction with me over the course of the A T lessons could have positively affected their level of understanding and application. In contrast to participants, I observed that it was the respondents who most frequently offered observat ions in c lass and who most consistently attended to their use. This suggests that incorporating regular student reflection in journals for all s ingers on their vocal p rocess in my choral teaching and application of A T in the future would facilitate increased student attention to their use. I observed that my own use and rehearsal technique demonstrated poss ib le end-gaining tendencies. My c lassroom management and teaching strategies emphas i zed maintaining a fast lesson pace with quick transitions, limited teacher talk to maximize on-task singing work, voca l demonstrat ion, quest ioning on the musica l literature, and s o m e rote teaching of notes, thus minimizing time for reflection and response from singers particularly on their voca l technique exper ience. It was a high priority for me to accompl ish the teaching of repertoire for per formances. On review of the v ideotapes, I noticed t ightness in my use, in hips, shoulders, and head-neck as I conducted and spoke loudly to address the choir. T h e known effects of a conductor 's kinesthetic use on the sound of her choir suggests that it was possib le that my limited recall of attention to both my own and the students' use affected the choir 's consis tency in application of A T (Chagnon, 83 2001; Con, 2002; Eichenberger 1994, 2001; Jordan, 1996). Addressing kinesthetic awareness and thinking AT directions throughout the choral rehearsal would increase benefits to students' singing. 5.5.2 The Process of Awareness Throughout the study, I observed that student concentration on music reading, part learning, and holding music folders compromised their kinesthetic awareness and application of AT principles of use. Habits of misuse brought on by this effortful focus were most released during the vocal warm up portions of the lessons, when student awareness was more inclusive. De Alcantara (1997) stated that AT directing increases an all-inclusive awareness, and he differentiated this from concentration as a focus on one thing. He quoted martial artist and teacher Bruce Lee, who wrote that "a concentrated mind is not an attentive mind, but a mind that is in the state of awareness can concentrate" (Lee, 1975, quoted in De Alcantara, 1997, p. 70). A finely tuned mental focus served the achievement of high academic standing for many of the choir's International Baccalaureate students, but may have also been a contributing factor for some students who experienced difficulty re-orienting from an end-gaining approach of "trying to do it correctly" or "get it right" to the AT means-whereby approach of inhibition, direction, and attention to process. It is clear that students require consistent reinforcement of the process of Alexander Technique principles to derive benefits from the approach. It would seem, then, that the inclusion in the choral curriculum of AT concepts, supported by 84 a w o r k s h o p o r c l i n i c wi th a t r a i ned A T t e a c h e r g i v i ng s t u d e n t s a h a n d s - o n g u i d e d e x p e r i e n c e , w o u l d b e bo th he lp fu l a n d e v e n n e c e s s a r y in s t u d e n t s ' r e - e d u c a t i o n of a w a r e n e s s of u s e . T h e exho r t a t i on in c h o r a l a n d v o c a l p e d a g o g y to s t u d y v o i c e a n d d e v e l o p k i n e s t h e t i c a w a r e n e s s is a l s o c l e a r ( J o r d a n , 2 0 0 5 ; N e l s o n & B l a d e s - Z e l l e r , 2 0 0 2 ; P h i l l i p s , 2 0 0 4 ; S m i t h & Sa ta lo f f , 2 0 0 0 ) . M y p e r s o n a l e x p e r i e n c e of l e s s o n s in A l e x a n d e r T e c h n i q u e a n d s u b s e q u e n t s t u d y o f i ts b e n e f i t s fo r c h o i r s t u d e n t s h a s i n c r e a s e d the sens i t i v i t y o f m y h e a r i n g a n d o b s e r v a t i o n of t e n s i o n in s i n g e r s ' v o i c e s a n d m y o w n . I wi l l c o n t i n u e t he a p p l i c a t i o n of A l e x a n d e r T e c h n i q u e in m y c h o r a l r e h e a r s a l s . A T p r i n c i p l e s h a v e p r o v i d e d m e wi th g r e a t e r p e d a g o g i c a l i ns igh t s a s I h a v e s o u g h t to i n c r e a s e m y a w a r e n e s s of the u s e of m y w h o l e s e l f a n d r e l e a s e t h e s o u n d of m y c h o r a l s i n g e r s . 85 REFERENCES Alexander , F. M. (1932/1985). The use of the self. London, UK : Orion Books . Blades-Zel ler , E. (2002). A spectrum of voices: prominent American voice teachers discuss the teaching of singing. Lanham, M D : Scarec row Press . Bresler, L. & Stake, R. E. (2006). Qualitative research methodology in mus ic educat ion. In R. Colwel l (Ed.), MENC Handbook of Research Methodologies (pp. 270-311). New York: Oxford University P ress . Brown, W . E. (1973, c.1957). Vocal Wisdom: Maxims of Giovanni Battista Lamperti. Boston: C r e s c e n d o Publ ishing. Buchanan , H. (2005). O n the Vo ice : A n Introduction to Body Mapp ing : Enhanc ing Mus ica l Per formance Through Somat ic Pedagogy . Choral Journal 45(7), 95-101. Bunch , M. (2004). The Singing Book. New York: W . W . Norton. C a r m a n , J . (2004). Y o g a and Singing: Natural Partners. Journal of Singing 60(5), 433-441 . C h a g n o n , R. (2001). A comparison of five choral directors' use of movement to facilitate learning in rehearsals. Doctoral dissertat ion, A r i zona State University. (Proquest Dissertat ions AAT3002819 ) Col l ins, D. L. (1999). Teaching choral music. Upper Sadd le River, N J : Prent ice-Hal l . C o n , A . J . (2002). The life and philosophy of choral conductor Rodney Eichenberger, including a detailed analysis and application of his conductor-singer gestures. Doctoral dissertat ion, Flor ida State University. (Proquest Dissertat ions A A T 3065478) Conab le , B. (1998). What every musician needs to know about the body: The practical application of Body Mapping and the Alexander Technique to making music. Co lumbus , O H : Andover P ress . Conab le , B. (2000). The structures and movement of breathing: a primer for choirs and choruses. Ch icago : G IA Publ icat ions. De A lcantara, P. (1997). Indirect procedures: A musician's guide to the Alexander Technique. New York: Oxford University P r e s s . 86 Deeter, A . W . (2005). Over looked and Undermining: A Look into S o m e of the C a u s e s , Effects, and Preventat ives to the Dysfunct ions Genera ted by Excess i ve Tens ion . Journal of Singing 62(1), 27-31 . Denz in , N. K., & Lincoln, Y . S . (Eds.). (2003). Collecting and interpreting qualitative materials ( 2 n d ed.). Thousand O a k s , C A : S a g e Publ icat ions. Doscher , B. (1994). The functional unity of the singing voice ( 2 n d ed.). Metuchen, N J : Scarec row P ress . Dosso , J . L. (2004). Coming home to the self through freeing the singing voice. Master 's Thes is , St. S tephen 's Co l lege, Edmonton, A B . (Proquest Dissertat ions A A T MQ97323) Eichenberger, R. (Producer) & Dunn, M. (Director). (1994). What they see is what you get! Linking the visual, the aural, and the kinetic to promote artistic choral singing. Chape l Hill, N C : H inshaw Mus ic , Inc. Eichenberger , R. (Producer). (2001). Enhancing musicality through movement. Santa Barbara, C A : San ta Barbara Mus ic Publ ishing. Fett, D. L. (1993). The adolescent female voice: The effect of vocal skills instruction on measures of singing performance and breath management. Doctoral dissertat ion, University of Iowa. (Proquest Dissertat ions A A T 9334595) F reed , D. C . (1994). Breath Management Terminology: How far have we c o m e ? NATS Journal, 50(5), 15-28. Griffin, B., W o o , P. Col ton, R., Caspe r , J . , & Brewer, D. (1995). Physio logica l characterist ics of the supported singing voice: a preliminary study. Journal of Voice, 9(1), 45-56. H e a d , S . (1996). How the Alexander Technique informs the teaching of singing: The personal experience of, and analysis by a singing teacher. Unpubl ished master 's project, University of British Co lumb ia , Vancouver , B .C . Heir ich, J . (2005). Voice and the Alexander Technique. Berkeley, C A : Mornum T ime P r e s s . Hudson, B. (2002). The effects of the A lexander Techn ique on the respiratory system of the singer/actor part I: F .M . A lexander and concepts of his technique that affect respiration in singer/actors. Journal of Singing, 59(1), 9-17. Hudson , B. (2002). The effects of the A lexander Techn ique on the respiratory system of the singer/actor part II: Implications for training respiration in 87 singer/actors based on concepts of the A lexander Techn ique. Journal of Singing, 59(2), 105-110. Jordan , J . (1996). Evoking sound. Ch icago : G IA Publ icat ions. Jordan , J . (2005). Evoking sound: the choral warm-up. Ch icago : GIA Publ icat ions. LeCompte , M. D. (2000). Ana lyz ing qualitative data. Theory into practice, 39(3), 146-154. LeCompte , M. D. & Schensu l , J . L. (1999). Analyzing and interpreting ethnographic data. Walnut Creek, C A : Al ta Mira P ress . Linklater, K. (1976). Freeing the natural voice. N e w York: Drama Publ ishers . L loyd, G . (1988). The application of the Alexander Technique to the teaching and performing of singing: A case study approach. Master 's Thes is , University of Ste l lenbosch. (Proquest Dissertat ions, 1331717) Macdona ld , R. (1997). The use of the voice: Sensory appreciation, posture, vocal functioning, and Shakespearean text performance. London, U K : Macdona ld Med ia . Merr iam, S . B. (1998). Qualitative research and case study applications in education. S a n Francs ico : J o s s e y - B a s s Publ ishers . Miller, R. (1986). The structure of singing: System and Art in Vocal Technique. New York: Schirmer. Miller, R. (1997). National schools of singing: English, French, German, and Italian techniques of singing revisited. Lanham, M D : Scarec row P r e s s . Miller, R. (2004). Solutions for singers. New York: Oxford P ress . Morse , J . M. , R ichards, L. (2002). Read me first for a user's guide to qualitative methods. Thousand O a k s , C A : S a g e Publ icat ions. Murdock, R. (1996, 2001). Born to sing. Retr ieved October 30, 2006, from icles/borntosing.htm Ne lson , S . H., & Blades-Zel ler , E . (2002). Singing with your whole self: The Feldendrais method and voice. Lanham, M D : Scarec row Press . Ohrenste in, D. (1999). Phys ica l Tens ion , Awa reness Techn iques , and Singing. Journal of Singing, 56(1), 23-26. 88 Phil l ips, K. H. (1992). Breathing and its relationship to voca l quality among adolescent female singers. Journal of research in singing and applied vocal pedagogy, 15(2), 1-12. Phi l l ips, K. (2004). Directing the choral music program. New York: Oxford University P ress . R a o , D. (2005). A circle of sound. New York: B o o s e y and Hawkes . Re id , C . (1983). A dictionary of vocal terminology: An analysis. N e w York: Mus i c House . Re id , C . (1992). Essays on the nature of singing. Huntsvi l le.TX: Reci ta l Publ icat ions. Sataloff, R.T., & Smith, B. (2003). C a r e of the professional vo ice: Chora l pedagogy and voca l health. Journal of Singing, 59(3), 233-239. Smith, B., & Sataloff, R.T. (2000). Choral pedagogy. S a n Diego, C A : Singular Publ ishing Group. Stake, R. E. (1995). Art of case study research. Thousand Oaks , C A : S a g e Publ icat ions. S take, R. E. (2000). C a s e studies. In N. K. Denzin & Y . S . Lincoln (Eds.) , Handbook of qualitative research (pp. 435-454). Thousand O a k s , C A : S a g e Publ icat ions. S w a n , H. (1988). T h e development of a choral instrument. In H A . Decker , & J . Herford, (Eds.) , Choral Conducting Symposium (pp.7-68). Eng lewood Cliffs, N J : Prent ice Hal l . Thurman, L., W e l c h , G . (Eds.). (2000). Bodymind and voice: Foundations of voice education. Minneapol is : The V o i c e C a r e Network, Fairview Vo i ce Center ; Iowa City: National Center for Vo i ce & S p e e c h ; London: Centre for A d v a n c e d Stud ies in Mus i c Educat ion. Vennard , W . (1968). Singing: The mechanism and the technic. New York: F ischer. W e i s s , M. U. (2005). The Alexander Technique and the art of teaching voice. Doctoral dissertat ion, Boston University. (Proquest Dissertat ions, A A T 3171206) Wolcott, H. F. (1994). Transforming qualitative data: Description, analysis, and interpretation. Thousand O a k s , C A : S a g e Publ icat ions. 89 Yin , R. K. (2003). Case study research: Design and methods ( 3 r d ed.) Thousand O a k s , C A : S a g e Publ icat ions. A P P E N D I C E S Appendix A Part ic ipant A s s e n t F o r m Parent /Guard ian C o n s e n t F o r m The University of British Columbia Faculty of Education Department of Curriculum Studies 2125 Main Mall Vancouver, B.C. Canada V6T 1Z4 Tel: (604) 822-5422 Fax: (604)822-4714 Participant Assent Form Applying Alexander Technique in the High School Choral Rehearsal Principal Investigator: Dr. Scott Goble, UBC Department of Curriculum Studies Co-Investigator: Karen Parent Dionne, graduate student, UBC Department of Curriculum Studies Purpose o f the Research The purpose of the research is to examine the application of Alexander Technique lessons in the choral classroom and to describe its benefits to students' vocal skills. This study will serve as the basis o f a Master's thesis in music education for Ms. Parent Dionne. Procedures During March and April a certified practitioner of Alexander Technique, Dr. Gabriella Minnes Brandes, will conduct fifteen-minute lessons at the outset of each class. The mini-lessons will draw students' attention to habits in using their voices, particularly in head-neck-back relationships in movement. Students will be led to explore options to habitual responses through everyday movements such as sitting, standing, walking, and using their voices. (Details on the Alexander Technique can be found at: Data will be gathered through in-class observation, two video taped rehearsals, and in interviews. Students who choose to serve as participants will attend regular choir classes. Students may also choose to participate as respondents, meeting with Ms. Dionne for three interviews of approximately one hour each, and writing weekly journals describing their experiences in class. The interviews will involve open-ended questions regarding their vocal experience during the study. Ms. Dionne will provide a copy of the analysis of interviews and written reflections to participating students to check that theirexperience has been accurately portrayed. There are no risks to participants or respondents in this study. Participation will have no effect on choir students' grades. To ensure that a 92 student's non-participation will not influence his/her standing, evaluation of vocal skills for this unit will be undertaken by a student teacher. The personal benefit of being involved in Alexander Technique mini-lessons may be an increased awareness of the use and misuse of the voice and body in singing and everyday movement, as has been documented in other studies with individual singers and actors. Students are free to cease participation in the study at any time. You will not be videotaped and may still participate in the class off camera. Confidentiality The identity of participants and respondents will be kept strictly confidential. All documents will be identified only by code number and secured in a locked file, accessed only by Ms Dionne and shown to the research advisor. Anonymity will be maintained in final reporting, and a copy of the report will be available to participants and respondents upon request. If you have any questions or desire further information with respect to this study, please ask Ms. Dionne, or contact the research supervisor Dr. Scott Goble. If you have any concerns about your treatment or rights as a research subject, you may contact the Research Subject Information Line in the UBC Office of Research Services at (604) 822-8598. Your participation in this study is entirely voluntary, and you may withdraw from the study at any time without jeopardy to your class standing. Your signature below indicates that you have received a copy of this assent form for your own records. Your signature indicates that you assent to participate in this study. Your interest in participation as a respondent may be communicated to Mr. Hurst, Performing Arts Department Head. Participant's Signature Date Printed Name of the Participant 93 The University of British Columbia Faculty of Education Department of Curriculum Studies 2125 Main Mall Vancouver, B.C. Canada V6T 1Z4 Tel: (604) 822-5422 Fax: (604)822-4714 March, 2007 Dear Parent or Guardian, In March and April the members of your child's Senior Concert Choir are invited to participate in a study examining student vocal skills during a series of Alexander Technique lessons in choral class. This letter is to request your consent to allow your son/daughter to be a part of this project. The study will be conducted by myself under the supervision of Dr. Scott Goble, Assistant Professor of Music Education at UBC, and will serve as a Master's thesis in music education. During the project a certified practitioner of Alexander Technique, Dr. Gabriella Minnes Brandes, will conduct fifteen-minute lessons at the outset of each class. The mini-lessons will draw students' attention to habits in using their voices, particularly in head-neck-back relationships in movement. Students will be led to explore options to habitual responses through everyday movements such as sitting, standing, walking, and using their voices. (Details on the Alexander Technique can be found at: Data will be gathered through in-class observation, two video taped rehearsals and in interviews. Student participants will attend regular choir classes. Your son/daughter may also choose to participate as a respondent, meeting with Ms. Dionne for three interviews of approximately one hour each, and writing weekly journals describing his/her experiences in class. The interviews will involve open-ended questions regarding his/her vocal experience during the study. I will submit a copy of my analysis of interviews and written reflections to your child to check that I have accurately portrayed his/her experience. There are no risks to your child as a participant or respondent in this study. Participation will have no affect on his/her choir grade. To ensure that a student's non-participation will not influence his/her standing, evaluation of vocal skills for this unit will be undertaken by a student teacher. The personal benefit of being involved in Alexander Technique mini-lessons may be an increased awareness of the use and misuse of the voice and body in singing and everyday movement, as has been documented in other studies with 94 individual singers and actors. Your child is free to cease participation in the study at any time. If you choose not to give your consent, your child will not be videotaped and may participate in the class off camera. As a participant or respondent your child's identity will be kept strictly confidential. All documents will be identified only by code number and secured in a locked file, accessed only by me and shown to my research advisor. Anonymity will be maintained in final reporting,.and a copy of the report will be available to you on request. If you have any questions or desire further information with respect to this study, please feel free to call or e-mail me using the contact information below. You may also contact Dr. Scott Goble at UBC in the Department of Curriculum Studies. If you have any concerns about your child's treatment or rights as a research subject, you may contact the Research Subject Information Line in the UBC Office of Research Services at (604) 822-8598. I would be extremely pleased if you grant permission for your child to participate in the project. Your child's participation in this study is entirely voluntary, and withdrawal from the study at any time will not affect his/her class standing. Your signature below indicates that you have received a copy of this consent form for your own records. Your signature indicates your choice to refuse or give consent to your child's participation in this study. Respectfully, Karen Parent Dionne Music Department, Choral Director I consent / do not consent (circle one) to my child's involvement in this Study as participant / respondent (circle appropriately to choose participant or participant and respondent) Parent/Guardian Signature Date Printed Name of the Parent or Guardian signing above. 95 Appendix B Interview a n d J o u r n a l Q u e s t i o n s Interview Questions W e e k O n e 1. How long have you been s ing ing? a) Have you had singing l essons? b) Prev ious choir exper ience? c) How long in Churchi l l 's choir? 2. Tel l me about your voice, your singing, as you know it and exper ience it now. a) Descr ibe your singing voice. b) Descr ibe your feel ings about singing. c) Descr ibe your sensat ions while singing. 3 . Tel l me about working with your s tance as you s ing. a) W h e n do you think about your posit ion? What do you do? b) A s you s ing, what p laces in your body are you most aware of? c) Where do you notice tension, fatigue, or increased energy during rehearsa l? d) After an introduction to A lexander Techn ique this week, did anything happen with your awareness of your "posture"? If so, what? 4. Descr ibe your use of breath for s inging. a) Wha t do you focus on as you inhale? b) What do you notice as you refresh your breath between ph rases? i. Do you have sufficient air for the next phrase usual ly? ii. C a n you hear your breath renewal? iii. Do you "hold" breath in any way that you are aware of? c) Where is your attention during exhalat ion? d) After your introduction to A T , do you notice anything more about your breathing? 5. Descr ibe your exper ience of voca l sound production, your sensat ions of the tone of your singing voice. a) A s you begin to s ing, where is your attention? b) How do different p laces in your range fee l? c) Do you exper ience voca l fat igue/range loss in rehearsal? d) How has beginning A T lessons affected your attention to and exper ience of vocal sound product ion? 6. Do you have any other comments , quest ions, or observat ions? Addit ional quest ions may be asked for purposes of clarif ication, and to follow up on answers provided by student part icipant/respondents. 97 W e e k F o u r At this point in our exploration of A lexander Techn ique after 4 - 5 sess ions , descr ibe/comment on the following 4 a reas , starting with your awareness , then detail ing your use after that. 1. S tance : How has your poise deve loped or remained the s a m e ? a. changes in awareness - where, how often b. changes in use i. use of/connections of head , head-neck, head-neck-back, shoulders, knees, hips, feet/balance ii. while standing, preparing for s inging, while singing c. tensions i. re lease, increase, f luctuations ii. necessary v. overwork, holding v. directing 2. Breath : What have you not iced, if anything over these 4 weeks , about your way of breathing for s inging? a. changes in awareness - prep, catch, phrase end i. Amount of air? Frequency of intake? Depth of inhalation? b. changes in u s e - inhale/exhale i. ribs, back, abdominal musc les Rib lift? Back expand? S q u e e z e ? c. connect ions to s tance 3 . Tone Product ion: Has your sound and the way you produce it shifted in any way or at any time over these first 4 sess i ons? a. C h a n g e s in awareness - where, when b. l ower , mid, upper-ranges c. quality of tone d. connect ions to s tance 4. A T terms: What do you understand about the p rocess and principles of the A lexander Techn ique so far? a. A w a r e n e s s exper ience i. amount of attention - increase, dec rease ii. duration of attention - momentary/ongoing, f requency, sus tenance iii. quality of attention - subtlety, detail, depth, when b. U s e - overuse - misuse: what do these m e a n ? c. Thinking while doing and singing: "thinking in activity" i. Have you done this yet? d. Pr imary control i. F ree the neck ii. Head go forward and up iii. Let the back lengthen and widen 5. Do you have any quest ions or comments at this point? 98 W e e k Six After 8 sess ions in A lexander Techn ique, hearing and seeing others work with their s e l f - u s e , sens ing your own use, and engaging in s o m e d iscuss ion about it, let's review your exper ience of your s tance, breathing, and sound production. 1. Descr ibe /summar ize general ly your percept ions of this exper ience. a. D o e s 6 w e e k s s e e m like a long t ime a g o ? b. Do a time scan . What s tands out, if anything? c. How has this been valuable or not? d. What will you continue to explore? What is still in d iscovery? What do you wonder about? e. What are your goals as a s inger? Do you think any differently now about how you will get there? 2. How do you think about your body as you prepare to and while you sing now? a. How has your 'use ' or your thinking about 'posture' deve loped? b. Has anything remained the s a m e ? c. Do you feel any 'easier ' in your body through a rehearsal , and while s inging? 3. How do you think about breathing for singing now? d. How has your thinking about your body changed as you exhale, inhale, sing and refresh your breath? e. What has remained the s a m e ? f. How has your exper ience of your breath changed? Does your breathing feel any different? 4 . How do you give attention to your voca l sound production now, when you begin to and a s you s ing? a. How has your thinking about your sound, your resonance, and your body use grown or expanded? b. What has remained the s a m e for you? c. Do you exper ience, feel , hear changes in your tone quality or range? 5 . What principles of the A lexander Techn ique s e e m most pertinent and c lear to you after a unit of l essons? a. Do any words or ideas have new meaning to you? (i.e. Straight, Relax, Up, Co l lapse , Hold , Re lease , Free, Forward, Al low, Let, Send ing , Thinking, Use) 99 Journal Questions W e e k O n e 1. Descr ibe your thoughts, feel ings, and physical sensat ions during the p rocess of the A lexander Techn ique lessons in c lasses this week. 2. Descr ibe your vocal exper ience in choral c lass after the lessons. 3 . Did you notice any dif ferences in your tone, breathing, or posture? W e e k T w o 1. Descr ibe your thoughts, feel ings, physical sensat ions during the A T lesson in the voca l warm up this week. 2. Tel l me about your vocal exper ience after warm up and after c lass . 3 . What have you noticed about: a. tension as you breathe and s ing? b. your head-neck relationship to s tance & the movement of breathing? c. your tone or throughout your range this w e e k ? W e e k Three 1. Descr ibe your thoughts, feel ings, and physical sensat ions during the A lexander Techn ique lesson and in choir this week. 2. What, if anything, did you observe during this c lass or afterward, about your head-neck-back relationship (the "Primary Control") to your preparation for and engagement in s inging? 3. How are your voca l cha l lenges (tensions, range, sound quality, vowels, difficult song phrases, etc.) affected by your attention to your "sel f-use" so far? W e e k F o u r 1. Descr ibe your exper ience during the directions that Dr. M innes Brandes gave while warming up in choir this week: "soften the knees and let the arms hang," "notice your b a l a n c e , " " re lease the j a w , " "don't throw your head back when you go up the sca le , " "free the neck," "think up along the spine," "smile behind your eyes . " 2. What did you observe about your sel f -use as you were standing, breathing, and s inging? W a s there any difference between your vocal iz ing in the warm up and the rest of rehearsal? 3 . What did you notice in the student demonstrat ions that related to your own habits of u s e ? Wha t is unclear or confusing about the A lexander Techn ique so far as you've seen it, heard it, tried it? 100 W e e k Five Commen t on your observat ions of Ji l l ian or Kathryn during the s inging/AT demo, and your own warm up on the floor in Monday 's c lass . Did you receive hands-on work with Dr. B randes? Wha t did you hear, see , or s e n s e in yourself or others who were singing near you? Descr ibe your exper ience of sending directions to your body during Wednesday ' s warm up while Dr. Brandes made suggest ions. W e r e there any not iceable shifts in your s tance, your breathing, or your s inging? Do you 'free the neck' or 'let the head go forward and up' or 'allow the back to lengthen and widen ' more often, or more easi ly now, or not at all after these 5 w e e k s ? What are you aware of? W e e k Six 1. Comment on your exper ience during the warm-up with Sandra Head this week. Wha t did you notice about your breathing, beginning with an exhale, your rib movement? Where do you work too hard? 2. Did Dr. Brandes work with you? How did you respond? 3. Descr ibe the most not iceable shifts in your awareness and 'use' in your stance, breathing, and singing s ince the A T lessons began 6 weeks ago. 101 Appendix C U B C R e s e a r c h E t h i c s B o a r d A p p r o v a l The University of British Columbia Office of Research Services Behavioural Research Ethics Board Suite 102, 6190 Agronomy Road, Vancouver, B.C. V6T 123 C E R T I F I C A T E O F A P P R O V A L - M I N I M A L R I S K PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: INSTITUTION / DEPARTMENT: UBC BREB NUMBER: James Scott Goble UBC/Education/Curriculum Studies H06-03947 INSTTnjTION(S) WHERE RESEARCH WILL BE CARRIED OUT: Institution 1 Site NVA N/A Other locations where the research will be conducted: Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School 7055 Heather St. Vancouver CO-INVES71GATOR(S): Karen A. Parent SPONSORING AGENCIES: N/A PROJECT TITLE: Applying Alexander Technique in the High School Choral Rehearsal CERTIFICATE EXPIRY DATE: February 27, 2008 DOCUMENTS INCLUDED IN THIS APPROVAL: DATE APPROVED: February 27,2007 Document Name I Version 1 Date Protocol: Research Proposal Consent Forms; Parent/Guardian Consent Assent Forms: Subject Assent Questionnaire. Questionnaire Cover Letter. Tests: Interview Script Other Documents: Vancouver School Board Approval N/A February 8, 20Q7 N/A February 20, 2007 N/A February 20, 2007 N/A December 16, 2006 N/A January 25, 2007 The application for ethical review and the document(s) listed above have been reviewed and the procedures were found to be acceptable on ethical grounds for research involving human subjects. Approval is issued on behalf of the Behavioural Research Ethics Board and signed electronically by one of the following: U B C Dr. Peter Suedfeld, Chair Dr. Jim Rupert, Associate Chair Dr. Arminee Kazanjian, Associate Chair Dr. M. Judith Lvnam, Associate Chair 103 


Citation Scheme:


Citations by CSL (citeproc-js)

Usage Statistics



Customize your widget with the following options, then copy and paste the code below into the HTML of your page to embed this item in your website.
                            <div id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidgetDisplay">
                            <script id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidget"
                            async >
IIIF logo Our image viewer uses the IIIF 2.0 standard. To load this item in other compatible viewers, use this url:


Related Items