An exploration of the potential contributions of the Alexander Technique to piano pedagogy
This study investigates to what extent a specific body-mind technique - the Alexander Technique - helps young Brazilian piano pupils to improve their approach to learning and their perforinance. The study took as its starting point a review of the literature on the Alexander Technique and on piano pedagogy, written in English and Portuguese, as well as a range of related and complementary literatures. Data was collected using several methods, including an experimental strategy with random allocation of pairs of pupils to experimental and control conditions (matched pairs), audio-visual materials, group discussions, written feedback from piano teachers and pupils, and semi -structured interviews with eight significant Brazilian piano pedagogues. A number of observers including doctors, piano teachers, general music teachers, Alexander teachers, and the researcher, studied and assessed the pupils' changes in physical, attitudinal, and performing aspects over a period of time. Qualitative and some quantitative analysis of the observational data is undertaken, and possible explanations are suggested for the changes that occurred to the pupils' piano performance. The findings suggest that the Alexander Technique had a direct positive effect on the pupils' physical and attitudinal aspects and on their process of learning, and an indirect positive effect on their performances. Finally, the study proposes potential contributions of the Alexander Technique's principles to piano pedagogy, which could provide a more holistic approach to piano teaching and learning, leading to better performance standards and learning experiences for children.