Category Archives: Alexander Technique and classical guitar playing

My latest guitar in construction by Jeffrey Elliott, Portland, Oregon, 2017. Photo by Jeffrey Elliott

Alexander Technique & the Guitar: Introduction—in which the author considers himself warned

Gordon Crosskey

Gordon Crosskey

The day before my fifteenth birthday, I had my first guitar lesson with Gordon Crosskey. Gordon was Professor of Guitar at the Royal Northern College of Music, as well as Chetham’s School of Music. At that time, on the BBC’s televised competition for young classical musicians, the only guitarist to reach the finals would be one of his students. It seemed only right that to reach his house in Sheffield you had to climb a hill. Once inside—as my mother immediately noted—you beheld an impressive array of antiques, on which Gordon was an expert. As for the guitar, Gordon was and is a marvelous teacher with a way of bringing out the best in young players.

As I was leaving that first lesson, I asked Gordon if he could explain why my right arm would get so tired when I was playing extended fast passages. “It’s because you’re pushing your right shoulder up towards your ear,” he said. “See if you can stop doing that. If not, you might need Alexander Technique lessons—but hopefully that won’t be necessary.”

Now I was intrigued. “Why not? What is the Alexander Technique?”

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