Hear what my students say about studying with me
Cristina J., Violinist, Florida
Ellen H., Fiddler, Philadelphia
Joseph is a master at showing you how to find and eliminate the tensions in your body thereby enabling it to become a source of resonance and projection of a clear, vibrant sound. I first met Joseph and was introduced to Alexander technique when neck and shoulder pain prevented me from playing violin for more than 30 minutes. In a few sessions, Joseph was able to correct my self-defeating habits that had been at work for 30 years. Later lessons have focused on the body as part of the equation in the quality of musical sound. Learning a practice of identifying and relieving stress points has been invaluable. The tremendous improvement in the quality of sound has been a joy for me and those I play with.
Tamara D., Violinist, New Jersey
(Review of Joseph's online course, "The Magic Pause," available sometime in 2022)
I loved the Magic Pause!
I've had tingling, numbness in my elbow resurface lately after a few years of pain-free playing. I'm not sure how I managed to slip into old patterns but I think the pandemic and being uprooted from my routine has had something to do with it. Now that I'm starting to get back in the saddle, I find certain activities take much more of an effort than I remember. It's not so much the actual playing, but what it takes to be a working musician; the driving, the setting up, worrying about wayward students, the endless emails and zoom meetings with clients/students/bandleaders, scheduling, the chasing down of lesson fees and gig money. Just the thought of these activities is enough stimulus to fill me with dread, and tension. I intend to use what I've learned in the course to gain awareness of my body as I play as well as all of the activities associated with my music-making.
One thing that surprised me in the course was during the exploration of the movement of flinging our arms in the air (without using the pause). When I did this movement, I noticed that I had forgotten to breathe, which struck me as odd. When I added the pause, I took a breath before engaging in the movement.
After watching the videos in the course I felt looser overall; less stressed about what to do next and what to say next. I also noticed other areas where I may be harboring more tension in my body that I wasn't previously aware of.
I loved the Magic Pause! I've had tingling, numbness in my elbow resurface lately after a few years of pain-free playing. After watching the videos in the course I immediately began applying it to teaching violin. In that lesson, I felt less stressed about what to do next and what to say next, and I felt looser overall. I intend to use what I've learned in the course to gain awareness of my body as I play as well as all of the activities associated with my music-making.
Yoni D., Principle Cellist, Columbus Symphony
I came to Joseph because I noticed some unnecessary effort in my playing, and was looking for any ideas about how to relieve the physical stress.
Before I studied with Joseph, whenever my hand would hurt, I would think of what I can do better with my shoulders; in other words, the troubleshooting was very regional and I did not think that stress and finger fatigue can result from improper stance.
Now that we've worked together, if I follow his advice while playing it usually results in very little or no fatigue.
Joseph starts from the ground up - walking away from the instrument and balancing things from there, then bringing that balance back to the instrument. I found Joseph to be extremely sensitive to any minor adjustments or inefficiencies in my body.
Joseph is very well spoken and clear, very sensitive and knowledgeable. Joseph worked with me on my specific issues and together we found out the problem areas and possible solutions.There was no cookie-cutter technique or instruction in any point during the lesson.
I noticed an immediate improvement when I let my feet be in full contact with the ground. From there on I was able to move every part of my body much more easily.
The biggest benefits I noticed are:
A. Getting rid of unnecessary tension.
B. Learning about your body and how to balance it
C. These lessons are a great chance to take a vacation from our daily routines; routines which often can be not ideal for our bodies.
To those of you wondering if you should work with Joseph:
- It simply works!
- Take more lessons!
And to Joseph:
Just a big THANK YOU!
Jessica R., Mezzo-Soprano, Opera de Firenze, Netherlands
In the time I have been taking lessons with him I have experienced more progress in improving my technique than any time previously. I continually get compliments on how natural and easy I look up on stage now, and every time I hear this I know that much of the credit goes to Joe's instruction in Alexander Technique. I couldn't recommend him more highly!
Timothy B., Guitarist, New Jersey
Lessons with Joseph brought me a deeper awareness of just how much tension shows up in my body as I practice, perform, and do just about anything! By using the tools offered in these lessons I am able to notice and approach practice, playing, listening with less tension and more ease. Although I still notice tension as a habitual response I have when approaching music at times, I am empowered with the ability to notice and respond with ease. Being able to break down each movement or action into "critical moments" has really transformed my relationship with practicing music. Even simply knowing that there is a way to play with more ease and flow brings me closer to a more free and engaged relationship with music.
I cannot recommend studying with Joseph enough. The tools and practices that he offers are transformative and can certainly liberate any musician or individual, regardless of where they may be on their journey. Anyone looking to soften their relationship with tension and bring more ease to their life will benefit from the tools and practices offered by studying with Joseph. I am certain I will be using these practices and tools for years to come and connect with music and my body more freely and openly. I am very grateful for the lessons I've had with him.
I first heard about Joseph Arnold through another teacher, and became quite fascinated after a visit to the Soulforce Music School's website. As a lifelong student of music, I have had several teachers and while some emphasized the importance of relaxation none offered much more or any guidance or tools on how to bring that to my music studies. As I'm sure many musicians can relate, practice and performance can bring a lot of stress and anxiety to the body, and I hardly realized how much until I deepened my attention with Joseph's guidance and lessons.
CJ M., Fiddler, Pennsylvania
Vena J., Violinist, Spain
Through his thoughtful and patient practice, Joseph Arnold has helped me to discover an awareness of my physical self and its interconnectedness to all parts of my life and well-being. Through this awareness, the smallest subtleties have empowered positive and profound changes in not only my physical health as a performer, but also my musicality and emotional well-being. Alexander Technique has been an integral part of my growth as both a person and artist, and I owe this to Joseph Arnold's wisdom and guidance.
Puya A., Violinist, Philadelphia
I discovered Joseph’s studio entirely by chance while looking for accredited Alexander Technique teachers in Philadelphia who also taught violin. After seeing some of his introductory YouTube videos, I thought it was almost too good to be true: this professional musician who plays with so much ease used to have as much tension as I have? And he found a way out? I have been struggling with immense tension in my violin playing since my days in conservatory. Had I known how easy it would have been to find the right teacher, I would have started with Joseph ten years ago.
Joseph fundamentally understands what a bad habit is and how to thoroughly work yourself out of it. That is all tension is: a bad habit…and the best way to fix it is to be aware of it. It is something that sounds obvious when you first hear about it, but with proper and studious application it can easily change your life.
One of the biggest problems with conventional musical pedagogy is the urge to work on repertoire or technique while overlooking the fundamental postural aspect of the instrument. An instrument is an extension of your body. Slight changes in posture or how you physically approach playing can have drastic and lasting effects on your technique and tension, far more than spending hours working repetitively on a piece or passage. The best aspect of Joseph’s teaching philosophy is his thoroughness: he will not move ahead until you have conceptually understood what he is trying to teach you – however many different ways he has to say it for it to stick.
If what you care about is making music, then playing effortlessly becomes an inevitable necessity - especially as you age. I think that at any point in your journey you should be open to any avenue that may provide you with the ability to release and play with ease, no matter if you are an amateur or professional. It is a perspective that many of us are not accustomed to but is integral in the development of your relationship to your instrument.
Thuy N., Violinist, Philadelphia
I studied with Joseph because I wanted to gain confidence in my playing through releasing tension and developing new techniques to ease pain. I love the new sense of self-awareness I have when I play. It’s helped reduce my pain and has made me a stronger, more confident player.
I was pleasantly surprised by how Joseph was able to relate to the areas of trouble I had. I never thought that all this pain and tension was experienced by other musicians and that there would be a real solution! I would 100% recommend studying with Joseph to other professional musicians! It is wonderful and empowering!
Allyson C., Violinist, New York City
Soulforce Arts Academy provides a welcome and much needed service, working with musicians’ deepest, sometimes chronic physical and mental challenges from which traditional music teachers often shy away. Musical mastery in conservatories is often presented as an ideal to which students must strive and strain, hard work and long hours praised, no matter the cost, sometimes to the point of diminishing returns and enjoyment of the art. Joseph targets the physical and psychological roots of discomfort in an individual and gently work to restore the balance and ease of mind which truly are required for connected and meaningful performance. I really appreciate taking his introductory lesson - Joseph is extremely intuitive and is a generous musician with a wide range of techniques to help musicians quickly regain mental and physical freedom - a more authentic form of mastery. I would highly recommend him to anyone looking to improve their relationships to music, performing and themselves.
Allison R., Violinist & Music Therapist, Philadelphia
I came to Joe after experiencing some chronic pain in my arms and shoulders and neck. I also experience a lot of anxiety on a daily basis. Through Joe's gentle encouragement and guidance, I've learned to find much greater ease in my movements, whether it be daily tasks, playing violin or doing yoga.
Until Joe, I had no awareness of the depth of tension I was holding, especially when playing violin. Bringing awareness and beginning to create new habits has been life-changing.Joe also taught me how to take focused rest, which has made a huge difference in my energy levels and with finding ease and fluidity, as well. Joe has a very soothing voice and very caring way and I felt very safe and comfortable working with him.
Alexander D., Temple U Composition Prof., Philadelphia
Joseph is an extremely gifted teacher of the Alexander technique. His work combines powerful hands-on guidance and exploration with skillful verbal prompts and inquiry. I have benefited tremendously from my work with him, and highly recommend him to anyone who is interested in pursuing the Alexander Technique.
Alyssa L., Violinist, Reading, PA
Throughout college, I researched and lead workshops on music performance anxiety and the physical wellness of ,usicians, so I really value self-care. Even though I studied musician wellness and tried to implement it in my practicing, I still struggled with one major nuisance: Knots in my neck and shoulders. I stretch every day, massage my shoulders, try to be mindful of my technique, and rest whenever I feel fatigued. But the knots are still there and I can’t practice as much as I’d like.
Studying with Joseph reassured me that there is nothing wrong with my physique, and there is hope to finally rid my muscles of knots! The biggest benefit of this course is learning how to give yourself a choice on how to respond to stressful situations; whether it’s playing a difficult passage in your music, performing, or just having a hectic day. I really like how I now have easy methods to practice the ‘Magic Pause’ and other techniques to incorporate in my daily life. I also enjoy his guided meditations and YouTube videos. I absolutely recommend studying with Joseph to other professional musicians, and have already told all my friends!