What Students Say

It has been my good fortune to study the Alexander Technique with a few of the best teachers in the country (on both coasts), and Bill Plake is certainly to be counted among them. His empathy is unparalleled, his own teaching technique is superb, and his vast knowledge is constantly renewed by an insatiable curiosity. He also happens to be a superior musician and this gives him deep insight into the physical and mental relationships musicians have as they address their instruments.

- George McMullen, professional trombonist, New York and Los Angeles

 

I’ve been a serious amateur pianist and composer for most of my adult life. I would constantly struggle with fatigue, strain (and the occasional injury) from daily piano practice. Playing just never felt “easy” or “natural” to me, even when I was playing pretty well. After reading an article about the benefits of the Alexander Technique for musicians, I decided to look for a teacher, and found Bill Plake.

From the very first lesson, Bill helped me to understand the “cause and effect” of some of the unconscious habits that I was bringing into my playing that were causing my difficulties. But more important, he was able to show me a practical way to start getting rid of these habits. After a few months of weekly lessons, I can say without a doubt that the experience of playing piano is dramatically different for me than it was before. I have virtually none of the chronic neck and shoulder pain that I use to expect on a daily basis. I can play longer, with way less fatigue. I actually feel good after a two-hour practice session! And as a bonus, my musicality seems to continuously improve. I hear and express my musical ideas with much greater clarity and expression. My piano technique also continues to improve. I love this work, and I deeply appreciate the skill, care and insight Bill uses in his teaching. I’d recommend him to anybody looking for an easier and safer way to play music (or to do just about anything, for that matter).

- Brian Horne, retired electrical engineer

 

“Taking Alexander Technique lessons with Bill has been one of the most important and rewarding decisions I have ever made. His instruction has helped me reach new levels of expression and technical freedom on my instrument that had been eluding me for many years. His work with me has not only had a profound effect on my abilities as a musician, but has also helped me eliminate the chronic back pain I had been experiencing for years as a result of the misuse of my body. I can’t recommend Bill highly enough. He is an extraordinary teacher, and anyone who commits to the process of studying the Alexander Technique with him will be rewarded with a set of skills they can use for the rest of their life!”

- Sasha Birrittella, professional guitarist and music educator

 

After struggling with chronic back pain for over 10 years, and trying everything under the sun to get anything more than temporary relief, I finally discovered the Alexander Technique. It is nothing short of miraculous! I’ve been completely pain free for months now. And Bill Plake is an extraordinarily gifted teacher! He listens well, is patient, caring, humorous, (that really helps!) and is vastly knowledgeable and flexible in his approach. Everything he teaches is immediately clear and immensely practical, and he has a wonderful touch! I always leave each lesson feeling so light and free, and ever more confident. Highly recommended!

- Julie Conner, educational consultant

 

As over a year-long client of Bill Plake's, I cannot say enough about how much help to me he has been!  I've been recovering from a severe embouchure injury for over three years (French Horn), and his knowledge of the Alexander Technique, his ability to translate that to specific areas and his innate musicality have helped me to race forward in my recovery...finally achieving a tipping point at which technical and musical gains remain and increase over time.  He is patient but relentless!  I would recommend him to anyone, musician or otherwise who wants to expand their awareness of the best use of their bodies in any context.

- John Dickson, professional studio musician and film and television composer

 

I used to have so much tension in my lower that back I could barely stand for longer than 5 minutes without serious discomfort.  Thanks to Bill and the Alexander Technique, standing is now a pleasurable experience.  I feel taller, lighter, stronger and more aware of how I relate to my surroundings.

- Anthony Exter, architect, Anthony Exter Landscape Design www.anthonyexter.com

 

Working with Bill is changing the way I practice, hear, think about and play music. Music is a listening art in which we involve our whole being. We're not just hearing musical sounds and responding, but learning to actively listen within and without of ourselves. To maximize our potential we must learn to play with a totally unified consciousness, like children who dance when they hear good music, without thought or a separation of the ego self, the music or the dance they embody.

As musicians we really need to be aware how we treat ourselves.  We can't shut off one part of our awareness without suffering consequences in our music, our health and quality of life.  My lessons with Bill have been a fascinating exploration of 'how I do music', focused on the essential kinesthetic awareness which his direct experience with Alexander Technique brings.  The practice of unifying our awareness, encompassing our mental, physical and spiritual selves is enhanced with Bill's breadth of  knowledge in music, anatomy, neuroscience, languages and philosophy.  He is a teacher who is open, committed to learning and always bringing something more to the moment.

As I learn with Bill, I am actually teaching myself how to play in a more liberated manner.  I can release misplaced physical tension and bring myself back from what I call futurizing (the emphasis of attention on 'results' over the present moment).  Each lesson I attend I find something I can learn to let go, and walk away freer, lighter and more confident in my life as a musician, composer, band leader and as a teacher as well. 

- Paul Livingstone, professional sitarist, composer, music educator

 

For the longest time, playing the violin was an arduous task. As I began to get more and more serious about my commitment to practicing, I began developing shoulder and back pain as my body tried to adjust to the additional time playing. Over the months, I had accepted the pain as a sort of sacrifice to playing the violin. The Alexander Technique with Bill Plake completely changed my view, as I discovered that I didn't need to be in pain to practice my instrument. By learning to relax my muscles and ease the tension that had built up over the months, practicing became enjoyable again, as the strain it had used to place on my body seemingly disappeared after a few lessons. Even today, I use the same techniques Bill taught me to improve my posture and balance of my body. The Alexander Technique was life changing for me, not only for my violin playing, but also, for my life.

- Nathan Lee, Concertmaster, Pasadena Youth Symphony Orchestra

 

I can't say enough about Bill Plake and the Alexander Technique: As an actress/singer, the Technique has given me a new sense of vocal freedom (without restraint) and personal connection to my craft. Bill is a mentor and a teacher of the highest caliber.

-Lorraine Kreuz

 

Being a piano tuner I frequently find myself in physical positions that our bodies were not meant to hold for any length of time. The entire musculature of a piano tuner is frequently used in leaning over, pulling and pushing in very unnatural ways. Even when we're doing it right. I am not alone in this profession to coming home full of built up aches and pains. Especially shoulder and lower back discomfort that could last for days. But all that has changed since I started Alexander Technique lessons with Bill Plake. The muscle strain, the aches and pains, etc., have not been entirely eliminated but they are certainly way less severe. Additionally, with the very short but daily Alexander Technique resting routine, I no longer go to bed feeling all bent up. I wake up refreshed, and ready to do it again. I love my work, and now that I have incorporated Alexander Technique training into my routine I know that I will be physically, and subsequently mentally, able to continue my profession for many more years to come while avoiding many common work related repetitive stress injuries. Quite honestly, Alexander Technique training is the best health related investment I have ever made in myself. I've never felt better and more comfortable in my body. Thanks, Bill!

- Geoff Sykes, RPT

 

Bill and the Alexander Technique made it possible for me to look at things from a new, and a different point of view. I would say that I began to understand why something works for me or why it doesn't work for me. I think both my playing and my teaching have become much more efficient.

- Günter Schelberger, professional woodwinds artist, conservatory teacher, Austria

 

In my 25+ years as a musician, I have run into very few teachers with Bill's ability to convey information in a crystal-clear and yet highly engaging manner. Having collaborated with Bill on a mixed media educational program as well as on my own music web site, I can tell you that Bill's work has garnered highly enthusiastic praise from my readers and listeners. As an incredible musical mind, Bill's approach to music is deep and holistic. Finally, Bill is one of the most sincere and generous people you'll ever come across. If you're looking for someone to help you get to that next level in your musical development, Bill Plake is, without a doubt, the man you want in your corner.

- Doron Orenstein, saxophonist and Webmaster, Best.Saxophone.Website.Ever

 

I came to Bill Plake while researching the Alexander Technique for my graduate music degree. I'm a percussionist and wanted to take lessons applying the Technique to the drumset specifically. (Bill made special arrangements for me to use a nearby practice space with a drumset for some of our lessons, which I greatly appreciated.) Bill is extremely well-versed in applying the Alexander Technique to playing music, and facilitated many questions from me during my research. The lessons helped me isolate habits and tendencies that interfered with my playing so that I am now able to direct my efforts in a more fruitful way.

- Kevin Brown, professional drummer/multi-percussionist, music educator

 

I cannot say enough about what the Alexander Technique has done for me and my well-being. Even after one lesson I learned how to listen to my body and stop my many hurtful habits of holding tension, especially in my neck and jaw. Now I hardly have any pain problems and when they do surface, I know exactly what I'm doing wrong and can remedy them immediately. I think the Alexander Technique is a must for every musician.

- Cathy Biagini, professional cellist

 

Bill has helped me feel so much better on a day-to-day basis. After a serious bout of bronchitis, I developed ongoing jaw and neck pain. No matter what I did, I couldn't seem to rid myself of this condition. Because I am a dancer and Pilates teacher, I have a very good sense of awareness about my body. So it was frustrating that I couldn't understand what I was doing to cause this pain.

With the Alexander Technique, Bill was able to show me how I was creating unnecessary and harmful tension as I moved. By using tactile and verbal cues, he was able to help me become aware of the unconscious habitual patterns I was bringing into my movements. I can now feel the moment I create this tension in myself, and I can stop it from happening.

As an exercise instructor, I’ve been trained to address muscle imbalance by increasing strength. Through the Alexander Technique I’ve learned that many times the answer to muscular imbalance is not to increase strength, but instead is to learn to release habitually overused muscles. Sometimes less is more.

The lessons are like a tune up for both body and mind. I have the same feeling of ease and lightness that I have after having a massage, with the added benefit of learning to move more easily. I leave the lessons feeling calm, peaceful and clear thinking. Bill’s deep sense of joy and his vast knowledge of the human body make the lessons fun.

- Olivia O’Hare, Professional dancer, Certified Pilates instructor

 

Bill has a seeking spirit and is very passionate about sharing the Alexander Technique. His fascination with the potential of human thought and movement allows him to inspire these concepts to life through experiential exercises with his students. Although I started studying the Alexander Technique to enhance my vocal capacity as an actor and life coach, Bill has helped me to apply the Technique in my everyday activities, such as gardening, computer work ergonomics, and fitness. Consistent application of the Technique builds a practice and helps me to avoid self-inflicted injury.

Prior to working with Bill, I had studied vocal production and the Alexander Technique separately when in fact the two are inseparable. Bill's experience as a musician and understanding of breath work enables him to help the student explore that gap where most Alexander teachers end and vocal teachers begin; yet that area is a critical foundation for those of us who are finding our voices as adults. Bill had the patience to work with me to discover and learn how to prevent restrictive behavior that arises in the thought of speech, something none of my prior Alexander and vocal instructors worked with.

Bill already knows what is going on in my mind and body the moment I step through the door, but his gentle approach allows me to make the discovery, and that experience is far more impactful than him telling me. Learning the Alexander Technique with Bill Plake will expand the way you move, think, breathe, and live.

- Jennifer Huang, Professional Actor

 

I have learned so much from Bill at these fun and informative classes. The principles of the Alexander Technique make a lot of sense from a physical therapy perspective. The workshop sessions have improved my body awareness and ability to recognize and prevent habitual patterns that have been causing my back and knee pain.

- Lori DeRome, Licensed Physical Therapist

 

Bill introduced me to the natural ease awaiting all of us in our bodies. I felt that ease from his extraordinary gentle touch. I saw that ease. I experienced it by quieting myself and following his descriptive language. Bill is a very gifted teacher whose knowledge of the body comes from many sources. You know you have found a great teacher when the teacher is always engaged in his own learning. He is a generous person who is tireless in sharing his knowledge and understanding. He is very gifted in insight and has the ability to make those insights clear to others. I was very happy when I returned to dancing every week after so many years of missing it! I will always be grateful for the happiness I gained from his teaching.

- Marsha Cifarelli, ESL teacher

 

Words cannot express my gratitude to Bill and the skills he has empowered me with to improve the quality of my life.

- Dr. Lane Ochi, DDS




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