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Australia mourns Hot Lips, its premier flute

Linda Vogt Evans has died, aged 90.

As number one flute in orchestras ancient and modern, she set the national standard on her instrument from the 1960s on. In Sydney jazz clubs, they called her Hot Lips.

Linda attributed her success – the freedom to express herself – to studying the Alexander Technique, another Australian invention. I have heard many claims for the technique – that it improves posture, reduces aches and pains and relieves migraine – but never that it liberates personality. Have others had that benefit?

Sleep well, First Lady. Read a full appreciation here.

 

linda pic

 

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Comments

  1. To this lay person, proper alignment, balance and breathing, as well as strength in the gut and elasticity in the joints and fluidity of movement and mental concentration and alertness (even down to microseconds) extended over long periods of time, can keep a player free of injury and playing hours on end without injury. I saw it with Harvey Shapiro, and also with others who were indomitable through their eighties and nineties. And the technique that results can result in highly nuanced and layered playing and a magnificent clarity of line.

    The Alexander technique, tai chi, and yoga are all methods that address some if not all of the physical demands that musicians face that can cause injury.

    Dancers also deal with the same problems, and they are well addressed by the Ceccetti method, which formed the basis for the ballet technique taught by Margaret Craske and Ninette de Valois at the Royal Ballet, and in a related form that was modified by Vaganova for the Kirov. (At the invitation of Anthony Tudor, Craske later taught in the U.S. at the ABT – Alicia Alonzo, Jerome Robbins, Nora Kaye, and Sallie Wilson studied with her- at Juilliard for a time, and also at the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, and later at the Manhattan Festival Ballet, and privately, where many of the finest modern dancers, including Merce Cunningham and Paul Taylor (and so many other dancers in their respective companies) also studied with her. (A good article about Craske may be found at: http://www.cicb.org/pioneers/pioneers-margaret-craske/.) I’ve always thought that musicians and athletes could benefit from the Ceccetti method.

    Somewhat off the beaten track in the West, one might also look to the rigorous training of the singer-actor-acrobat in Chinese opera, especially Peking opera, which incorporates various elements of tai chi with its tremendous strength and potential energy in the abdomen, mental concentration coupled with mental relaxation, disciplined breathing and fluid movements, including at extremely slow tempos, and stunning acrobatics.

  2. I think it’s possible. I’ve only had one session (decades ago), but part of what was worked on was speaking out, releasing blockages or inhibitions in the throat area, etc. So if that was kept up I’m sure the technique would influence one’s personal expression in the world.

  3. Nuno Ivo Cruz says:

    How freely can you express your-self when that self is mired in aches, pains and migraines? The mind-body connection is IT for an instrumentalist – free one, you free the other. Of corse, this is something one needs to (re) learn, from a good AT teacher, so much of the music training trying to attain some form of immateriality…

  4. Les Berger says:

    As someone who had many Alexander lessons i can vouch for its effectiveness in loosening one up physically and emotionally. I still continue to refer friends for whom allopathic treatment has failed for lessons.

    Many teachers specialise in “treating” musicians. Some well known names regularly have a lesson before a concert but discretion forbids further details.

  5. Patrick Gundry-White says:

    As an Alexander Technique Teacher working with musicians for more than 20 years, I’d like to comment on Linda Vogt Evans attributing her success – the freedom to express herself – to studying the Alexander Technique.
    Improvement of posture, reduction of aches, pains and relief from migraine and many other conditions are merely(!) side-benefits that accrue from the on-going daily practice of the technique. In more subtle and far-reaching applications Alexander Technique aids musical performance through liberating the performer to play more spontaneously, responding to each new musical event as it unfolds in each new moment, calmly, clearly and creatively. It brings awareness to tensions we didn’t know existed and reveals the need for more muscle tone in places where we are too lax; it can uncover habitual ways of thinking, listening and moving to reveal other options open to us as musicians. It gives us a greater ability to choose how we interact with players, singers and conductors, allowing more time to choose in those interactions. The technique creates more time by transforming reacting (which is often negative and habitual) into responding, so that musicians can command more control of breath, bow, limbs, fingers and feelings. The greatest players of our time (or any time) have been blessed with these gifts – the Alexander Technique is a tool that helps us teach (or re-educate) ourselves to enrich the gifts we have.
    I work with a wide range of performers from conductors of international standing, professional musicians in world-class orchestras to young up-and coming students and accomplished amateurs – often, at the end of a lesson working with performers from all parts of this spectrum, I’ve heard them say something to the effect that; “I feel more myself” – this mirrors Linda Vogt Evans’ assertion that the study of the Alexander Technique gave her “the freedom to express herself”.
    That Linda attributed her freedom of self expression to the study of the Alexander Technique is a most heartwarming endorsement to all of us in this wonderful many-faceted work.

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