The Use of The Self:

Musical Mirrors of the Alexander Technique.

Thematic Performance. 5th April 2017.


” In what way to treat the body; in what way to treat the mind ; in what way to manage our affairs; in what way to bring up a family; in what way to behave as a citizen; in what way to utilize those sources of happiness which nature supplies,—how to use all our faculties to the greatest advantage; how to live completely ? And this, being the great thing needful for us to learn, is, by consequence, the great thing which education has to teach. To prepare us for complete living is the function which education has to discharge.”



When the Australian Actor, Frederick Matthias Alexander (20 January 1869 – 10 October 1955) suffered from voice problems due to chronic laryngitis, no doctor were able to help him. He was left with no option than coming up with his own solution. He started observing himself in the mirror and became aware of excess tension in his neck and body that were causing his problems. He began to observe his fellow men and found that at least in modern Western society, the majority of people stand, sit and move in an equally defective manner. Through a continuous monitoring of the entire body, he started developing new ways of moving and talking and his health improved to ‘such an extent that his friends and several of the doctors he had consulted earlier persuaded him to teach others what he had learned’

Over the next fifty years, he refined his methods and perfected the technique that is now known as ‘The Alexander Technique’. This technique is now an established educational process applied to recognize and overcome reactive, habitual limitations in movement and thinking. The technique can benefit a large number of activities and is embraced by practitioners from many different fields including actors, sports people and musicians.
Among the notable people who have embraced the Alexander technique, we find the philosopher and psychologist John Dewey, the anatomist George E. Coghill, the visionary writer Aldous Huxley, the conductor Sir Colin Davis, the violinist and conductor Yehudi Menuhin, the actors John Cleese, Jeremy Irons and William Hurt. For many of those practitioners, the technique has become a way of life, where everything we do and think is enhanced because of it.
Aldous Huxley based one of the characters on Alexander himself in his famous book ‘Island’, a utopian novel where flying birds remind humans to focus on the ‘Here and Now’; for Huxley, ‘the most important task before human beings is the perfection of a series of psychological techniques for the proper exploitation of personality… We remain barbarously unplanned as individuals”. He later states: “Those who are not free from themselves can never fully enjoy the blessings of freedom from external tyrants.”
The performance will combine musical pieces, sonic improvisations, archival materials and visuals to create parallels between the mind-body awareness the technique establishes and humanity’s complex relation to the world and its eco-system. The repertoire will feature new compositions as well as re-interpretations of pieces by Piazzolla, Sollima and Ravel among others…


This event follows three days of workshops and presentations by Agnès De Brunhoff, an Alexander technique expert and practionner who teaches the technique at Paris National Conservatoire. This performance will incorporate some of her own reflections and ideas about Alexander’s teaching.




Agnès De Brunhoff: Hands, Keys and Voice
Florian Antier: Cello
Andrew Healey: Cello
Suppabhorn Suwanpakdee: Viola
Pongthep Jitduangprem: Viola
Wathusiri Karawapong: Double Bass
Jean-David Caillouët: Visuals, Guitar and Soundscapes
and students from The Princess Galyani Vadhana Institute of Music