Application of the principles of the Alexander Technique to viola playing and performance

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.)


Music Performance

First Committee Member

Pamela McConnell - Committee Chair


This essay is a discussion of the application of the principles of the Alexander Technique to avoid misuse and overuse injuries in viola performers. The Alexander Technique, developed by Frederick Matthias Alexander (1869-1955) in the middle of the twentieth century, is a method to teach people how to re-educate themselves to use muscles properly and maintain correct postures in daily life. The principles of the Alexander Technique include Primary Control, Faulty Sensory Perception, Use of Self, End Gaining, Inhibition, and Direction. The process of teaching and learning is based on vision, the sense of touch, and self-awareness.This essay also refers to some commonly occurring injuries in violists such as neck pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, cubital tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, de Qervain's tenosynovitis, bursitis, thoracic outlet syndrome, trigger finger/thumb, and TMJ dysfunction. With the description of the injuries and the causes of them in violists, the author discusses how the Alexander Technique can help prevent or alleviate the symptoms.In the stringed instrumental performance area, the Alexander Technique has been discussed and applied in violin and cello pedagogy but very little in viola pedagogy. By incorporating the Alexander Technique into traditional viola pedagogy, a new branch of viola pedagogy will be created to apply methods that will minimize physical stress and injury in viola playing. This new branch will be focused on preventing damage from overuse and misuse while playing the viola.**This dissertation is a compound document (contains both a paper copy and a CD as part of the dissertation). The CD requires the following system requirements: Micrsoft Office; Windows MediaPlayer or RealPlayer.


Music; Education, Music; Education, Special

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