￼1. Name of student:
2. Main subject:
Alexander Technique and cello teaching
3. Name of research supervisors:
My two supervisors will be Anne Scott and Stephan van Dijk.
I would like to work together with Stephan van Dijk, because I have talked with him about my questions already for many years. He has been my teacher in A.T. for about 10 years and coached me with all my questions I had, with all the support and understanding I can possibly wish for. I hope we can continue our journey together with appointing him as my research supervisor.
Anne Scott will be my research supervisor, because she is directly connected with the conservatory, and will help me with writing my research and keeping me on track. She is a Canadian pianist, who has recently written her docARTES-PhD about Romanticizing Brahms: Early Recordings and the Reconstruction of Brahmsian Identity.
4. Title of research:
The combination of the Alexander Technique and making music, practicing and teaching the cello.
5. Research question:
How can I integrate the Alexander Technique with practicing and teaching the cello at the conservatory?
What are problems of a musician, of a student and teacher at a conservatory?
a) the stress students can get from the competition of fellow students, the high level of playing one can hear in the concert hall or on internet, the fear of decreasing work possibilities.
b) how can we deal with seeking our results and having to play in front of a public with the proces of non- doing, living in the present, not to seek for a final result?
c) how do we, the teacher and the student deal with the for some students "heavy" program and the exams a student must do in the school ?
b) in order to learn you must be able to make mistakes. But with making mistakes a music student has immediate physical reaction through the refined ears. This is a direct and fast physical reaction which is very difficult not to have. So every mistake will lead to a defensive physical contraction of the muscles, which will immediately lead to bad use.
We have to learn from our mistakes , but what should we do if our body tries to defense this impuls?
c) How can a teacher be honest to a student, without the student getting afraid doing it all wrong and get in a negative spiral?
6. Curriculum vitae of Larissa Groeneveld:
‘Larissa Groeneveld, remember this name’, wrote the French daily Le Figaro in 1995.
In 1990 Larissa graduated with highest distinction from the Conservatorium van Amsterdam where she studied with Dmitri Ferschtman. She continued her studies with Natalia Gutman at the Musikhochschule Stuttgart and followed master classes with Mstislav Rostropovich, Daniel Shafran and Yo-Yo Ma.
In 1988 she made her debut in the Main Hall of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw as a soloist in Beethoven’s triple concerto. She has made solo appearances with the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, the Stuttgarter Philharmoniker, Berliner Symfoniker and the St. John's Smith Square Orchestra. In 2005 she performed Gulda’s cello concerto with members of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.
Over the years, besides forging a solo career, Larissa has formed ensembles with the pianist Frank van de Laar and harpist Gwyneth Wentink and has been a member of
￼the Osiris Piano Trio for more than a quarter of a century. She has performed concerts with Giora Feidman, Natalia Gutman, Herman Krebbers, Reinbert de Leeuw and Giovanni Sollima.
Larissa has been with the Osiris Trio since its inception, performing in major concert halls such as Carnegie Hall, Wiener Konzerthaus, Kölner Philharmonie and Wigmore Hall. She has an extensive discography as a soloist and chamber musician, with repertoire spanning four centuries, including early classical and freshly commissioned works.
Larissa is a keen advocate of contemporary music. Many well-known Dutch composers have written compositions for her, including Theo Loevendie, Theo Verbey and Guus Janssen, who wrote a double concerto for Ernst Reijseger and her. At the 2010 Amsterdam Cello Biennale she played the world première of Theo Verbey’s Bandersnatch for cello and pianola. During the 2012 biennale she premièred Words and Song Without Words by Yannis Kyriakides, who won the 2014 International Rostrum of Composers Award with this work.
A dedicated teacher, Larissa holds teaching posts for both cello and chamber music at the Royal Conservatoire of The Hague. She teaches piano trio Master’s students at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam, as well as coaching young talent at the AMT (Musical Talent Academy) in Utrecht.
Larissa Groeneveld plays on a Domenico Busan cello from Venice, dated 1763.
7) Curriculum vitae playing the cello combined with Alexander Technic:
Shortly after my study in at the Conservatorium Amsterdam with Dmitri Ferschtman and after my graduation in Stuttgart at the Hochschule with Natalia Gutman in 1994, I got a blessure in my arm. This made me think about the way I had been studying and playing cello. Because of this blessure I took private Alexander Technique lessons, first from Tessa Marwick at the Alexander Technique Centre Amsterdam and then from Stephan van Dijk in Amsterdam.
Here started a long path of relearning my technic of playing cello, of thinking about how to study music and especially how to study the cello. From this moment I am convinced the Alexander Techniek can offer me the principles of how to think about playing cello.
From 2001 I have been a teacher at the Royal Conservatorium in Den Haag and of course my teaching has always been inspired by my work with the Alexander Techniek. Slowly I managed to implant principles of the Alexander Technique to the way I was studying and playing cello and giving lessons to my students.
This has been a very interesting journey.
My first student at the Royal Conservatory in Den Haag had some problems with tension. At the lessons we were working constantly at this problems, but we couldn't solve all of it. Of course we talked a lot about the Alexander Technique principles. In her fourth year of studying at the Koninklijk Conservatorium Den Haag a natural step for her was to go to the three year training at the Alexander Technique school in Amsterdam. At this moment I thought the best way for her to develop her playing, was to go to the Alexander Technique Centrum Amsterdam to train to become a Alexander Technique teacher. She would learn all the principles of the Alexander Technique from inside out, and would become a free and wonderful cellist/musician. But after the three years training, after her graduation Alexander Technique Centrum Amsterdam she played once more for me. I was surprised about the way she was playing. There hadn’t been the change of playing I was hoping for. This was a big question for me, why didn’t she get rid of all the unnecessary tension?
When I was studying in Amsterdam with Dimitri Ferschtman a dear friend of mine and student of Dimitri Ferschtman got a blessure and was forced to stop playing the cello.She had to find other ways of learning to play the cello. She wanted to combine the conservatory with the study at the Alexander Technique Centre Amsterdam, but here she was told to quit playing the cello completely while she was in the Alexander Technique training. We all didn’t like this idea, but the teachers at the Alexander Technique school thought her, this would be the only way. They didn't want her to combine the training with her playing the cello. I must say this attitude has changed, if you want to become a Alexander Technique teacher at this moment you are not told to stop playing your instrument while being at the Alexander Technique training.
But this attitude did’t change completely. The application of the Alexander Technique has always been a personal development. Until now I haven’t found a real integration of the Alexander Technique and the music education. You can follow individual lessons with a Alexander Technique teacher and with your music teacher, but I never found a real combination of the two.
When I read the book “Indirect Procedures” from Pedro D’Alcantara, a cellist and Alexander Technique teacher, I thought here I would find my teacher. With a lot of enthusiasm I made a appointment to have cello lessons from him in Paris. But I was very disappointed when I only got Alexander Technique lessons, as I was used to have from my Alexander Technique teacher in Amsterdam. There was no talking about music, nothing about how to practise, nothing of how to play the cello, only the basic AT principles were told to me. A real Alexander Technique lesson without application the cello specific, no combination of the two.
In my search for this combination I talked with Doris Hochscheid, a cellist who studied with Dimitri Ferschtman at the Amsterdam Conservatory and recently did the three year training course at the Alexander Technique Centre Amsterdam. Now she is the Alexander Technique teacher at the Conservatory of Amsterdam. When I asked her if she also gave cello lessons to the students, she made it very clear to me she only wants to give Alexander Technique lessons. She doesn’t want to give cello lessons combined with Alexander Technique, because in short, she told me, the application of the Alexander Technique is a personal travel, everybody has to find his own way how to apply the technic.
8. For my research:
1) I would like to interview / visit several Alexander Technique teachers and music teachers at various conservatories. I would like to visit different music schools in England to see how the Alexander Technic is integrated in the music teaching.
Since it’s rather difficult to find AT teachers who teach a instrument at a conservatory, I would like to interview AT teachers who are musicians.
Here a list of AT teachers who I would like to interview and if possible attend some of their lessons:
Peter Buckoke, bass and A.T. at Royal College of Music, London
Selma Gokcen, cello and A.T. at the Junior Guildhall, Barbican Centre, London
John Crawford, (violin) A.T. at Trinity College of Music, London
Vivien Mackie , (cello) A.T, in London
Nelly Ben-Or ( piano) A.T. at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama
Janet Davies (violin) A.Tt teacher, Australia
Maayke Aarts, (violin) private practise A.T., Amsterdam
Doris Hochscheid, (cello) A.T. at Conservatorium Amsterdam, Amsterdam
Fiona Tree, (harp) A.T. at the Royal Conservatorium Den Haag, Den Haag
2) Every week I have private Alexander Technique lessons for my research and development in the Alexander Technique combined with cello playing and teaching.
3) I would like to make a course together with my Alexander Technique teacher Stephan van Dijk together with my cello class. I would like to work with my students in both fields at the same time, to give cello lessons combined with Alexander Technique lessons.