My connection to the Alexander technique had begun 3 years ago, when I was senior at high school. I play the flute, and on the senior year, just before the auditions for the IDF’s orchestra, my recital for the matriculation exam, and the audition for “The America-Israel culture fund” scholarship, terrible aches appeared in my hands. These aches were diagnosed, later on by an orthopedist, as an inflammation in the elbow (Tennis elbow) and as muscular fatigue from prolonged effort.
Obviously, at this critical time, I could not have avoided playing, and the pains had just got worse. The orthopedist recommended a few ointments, pills for aching joints, a strap for the arm and physiotherapy. None of the above did any good. After the disappointment from conventional medicine, I turned to unconventional medicine. I had tried acupuncture, different kinds of massages, and treatments with a chiropractor. All of these methods had helped only during the treatment, and as soon as a few months of treatment had ended, the pains were back.
At that time, at the senior year, someone recommended me to try and learn the Alexander technique, and that is how I met Eli Heifetz.
When I started to study the technique, I immediately understood how much energy I am wasting on physical tension, which takes away the ability to invest the same amount of energy in other aspects of playing.
The more I continue to study the Alexander technique, the more I can feel the improvement in my playing. Already at the first couple of lessons, huge barriers of physical tension had opened, and along with the physical liberation came the spiritual one. Today I am much looser when I play, in contrast to how I felt before when my whole body was like a spring.
At the end of every A.T. lessons, we dedicate a few minutes to playing. Since Eli is a musician and a clarinet player, he understands how to help other playing musicians to dispel unnecessary physical strain while they play, thus the energy that the musician spend is invested both technically and musically with maximal efficiency.
Today, when I see a musician that suffers from pains, I tell him about my connection to the Alexander technique, and I, of course, give him Eli’s phone number.
At the summer of 99’, after a year that was packed with musical activity, and I had an oncoming trip to Germany to continue my studies, I suddenly felt strong back pains and along the arms.
The doctors that I have been to, some of them are well known specialists, could not give an answer. After about six months of treatments, I still could not have seen any improvement.
Eli called me, one afternoon, he offered a treating session of “Alexander technique”. He welcomed me very kindly in his beautiful studio, telling me patiently about the technique and its inventor, demonstrating its principles, and listened. The meeting was pleasant.
The decision to continue wasn’t easy, since the path wasn’t familiar to me, and I had my doubts giving the treatments that I have already been to and the medical opinions. Fortunately, I decided to give it a try, and a gripping and long journey of sessions had begun.
I thank him not only for his professionalism but also for the support and hope that he had given along the way, the observation and the non-stopping learning.
Some time later, it turned out that I had had two ruptured discs – one is at the cervical spine and the other is at the lower vertebra and inflammation of the tendons along the arm, at the wrists, and elbows (tennis elbow and golf elbow) – therefore it was a success in medical terms as well.
Today I am active musically and I teach, after receiving an “artist diploma” in Oboe in Germany. I am much more aware of the physical necessities of playing music, and I use the technique that I learned from Eli to take care of my body by myself.
Alexander technique, with its physiological and mental principles has become an inseparable part of my life.
Yehuda Shrier Classical guitar teacher at the Rubin music and dance academy Jerusalem
Two years ago, I was stricken with an inflammation in the elbow, what the doctors call “tennis elbow”. I had endured sharp pains in the elbow, and worse- it prevented me from playing, which was very difficult for me since I am a professional musician (classic guitar).
First, I didn’t attribute the pains too much significance, and I tried to go on with my routine after all. However, when I realized that it is getting much worse, I didn’t have any choice but to stop playing.
Unfortunately, modern medicine did not provide me with a suitable solution, except a surgery that its odds are not so clear. All I could do was to relieve the pains for short periods (with pills and ointments) or a bit longer (steroids shots). The physiotherapy treatment that the doctors had recommended didn’t help at all.
So I turned to alternative medicine, and tried different treatments such as acupuncture, feldenkrais, bio-feedback, and reiki but with no good.
After a year or more of frustration and a considerable amount of money spent, I decided to undergo surgery, and I contacted a physician in England.
During that time, I started to learn the Alexander technique with Eli Heifetz.
Experience has taught me not to pin my hopes on treatments. At first I related to it with caution and with a certain amount of skepticism, but for some reason I decided to give it a chance.
Luckily, after a few sessions I was able to play again, without worsening my condition. Little by little, I increased the load and my body withstood it.
These days I am back from Paris, where I gave a concert, which the critics called a success. What is more important is that it went by without any pain.
It is my opinion that the fact that Eli Heifetz is a musician had a substantial contribution to my rehabilitation process, for only a musician can really understand what is required from the body and the soul when playing music.
My encounter with the Alexander technique has started after I came to a situation in wich I could not play the guitar due to pains I have experienced in my left arm. prior to that a was playing classical and flamenco guitar for about ten years and never experienced that sort of pain before.
The fact that I didn't know the reason for my pains made me feel helpless and I started to fear that I will never be able to play again. After two weeks in wich I stopped playing almost completely and saw no significant improvement in my situation I started thinking about seeing an orthopedic doctor.
Then, after browsing the internet I reached Eli's website by chance and I was immediately interested in the Alexander technique. I was very interested in the broad view of the technique and also because it integrates between the mental and the physical aspects of the human being.
I started immediately taking lessons with Eli and after two weeks I could gradually start playing again.
I have worked with Eli on a broad range of subjects and changed not only the way I play, but also the way I sat, stood up and waked. I continued to take about three lessons per week for two months and the things I learned from Eli and the Alexander technique changed many things in the way in wich I used my body and my mind. After these two month I went on travelling to India for a period of six month in wich I played for hours every day. All through this time I kept on practicing the principles of the Alexander technique and also reading more of Alexander F. Mathias books, that I found to be very interring but also very practical.
After these six months I came back to Eli to refresh again what I have learned because I know how easy it can be to come back to my old unhealthy habits.
Now I feel that I am ready to continue in my musical path, but in a more free and aware way then before. I am now trying to live by the principles of the Alexander technique in all the aspects of my life and I feel that I am now much more aware of the way in wich I use my body and my mind.
I recommend any musician who is suffering from any kind of pain to come to Eli, who is a musician as well as a teacher for the Alexander technique, and to try this technique with an open mind and a willing to learn and change.