An internationally-recognized musician and certified Alexander Technique (AT) teacher, Jennifer combines her professional experience with a life-long love of perennial wisdom. This unique combination gives her uncommon expertise in pinpointing the source of artists’ mind-body issues.
A faculty member teaching AT at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Jennifer’s approach has introduced countless performers to powerful techniques for mind-body self-control, balanced coordination, and renewed energy.
Her students consistently report that Jennifer’s simple, profound direction helps them achieve unexpected “ah-ha” moments and sometimes “miraculous” transformations. Pain and tensions melt away, seemingly unrelated problems are recognized as interconnected and dissolve, fears and anxieties transform into calm confidence, and technical skills improve with surprising ease.
Jennifer has performed as a violin soloist in some of the most prestigious concert halls and with orchestras from around the world, including several appearances in Carnegie Hall. An international prize-winner, she has been the Concertmaster of multiple ensembles and has been featured in TIME Magazine.
Jennifer teaches AT in the United States and Japan, and has founded two professional associations for Alexander Technique teachers in Ohio. In 2009, she designed and implemented a successful research study for surgeons using AT at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Medical Center which resulted in a prize-winning paper presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics and published by the Journal of Urology.
You can read Jennifer’s personal story below.
Why I Created The Art of Freedom
I am an artist at heart ~ I love to create, perform, and share my best Self with the world!
I come from a Swiss-American family of musicians and teachers, so I guess my love of teaching musicians is in my genes! When I was four, two years after I expressed my strong wish to play the violin, my parents found me a violin teacher.
As an extremely shy child who found it difficult to communicate verbally, music gave me a wonderful way to communicate my soul to others without the use of words.
After just a few years of violin lessons, I began performing with orchestras, traveling to Europe and Asia to study, and entering competitions. It wasn’t long before I was winning local, national, and then international prizes. I also had the good fortune to study with some of the greatest violinists of all time (including Nathan Milstein, Josef Gingold, and Shinichi Suzuki, among others), so my career as a soloist was well on the way to success.
When I turned 19, two events took my life into a dramatically different direction.
First, I was introduced to the mystical world of spirituality, traditional wisdom, and perennial philosophy. I became so inspired by those teachings that I decided to dedicate the rest of my life to their exploration and practice.
Surprisingly, I no longer felt a need to continue along my musical path, and I would have quit the violin entirely had it not been for the good advice of those close to me who discouraged me from giving up my art. But that’s when I chose to stop expressing my soul through the violin as a soloist, and I started performing professionally as an orchestral musician, even though that was never something I had wanted to do.
Very subtly and imperceptibly, my heart slipped out of my art.
The other life-changing event happened when I unexpectedly chose to get married at age 20. My focus then became almost exclusively on exploring spirituality, enjoying married life, and eventually nurturing a family (my two boys are now 17 and 15 already!).
Unfortunately, sleep deprivation, carrying young children lopsided on my hip for years, and living a quiet life of somewhat repressed creativity and lack of body consciousness slowly began to take its toll, both mentally and physically.
One day, my neck started to hurt. Regular physician and chiropractic care did nothing to relieve the problem, and for months I could not turn my head to the right.
A dear friend of mine suggested that I try the Alexander Technique (AT). After meeting with a couple of teachers, I found the teacher who was a perfect fit for me, and I could tell instantly that there was something incredibly important and essential about what I was learning, which I desperately needed.
Suddenly, the weight of daily burdens, responsibilities, and anxieties was lifted off of my shoulders, my breathing started to flow, my neck started to turn easily after just a few lessons, and I could scarcely believe the incredible new freedom I was feeling in my arms. It felt as if I had new limbs or wings that just floated around as I watched them do familiar activities with extraordinary ease – including playing the violin.
My entire outlook and postural attitude shifted, and I fell in love with life all over again. An unexpected wonderful side effect was that the way I related to my violin changed completely over the next few years, and I rediscovered my childhood love of the instrument and music-making. This was very deep, exciting, and valuable work with far-reaching implications, and I was hooked forever, since my curiosity was piqued and I wanted to understand how it worked!
I still wasn’t back to performing as a soloist, but the music in me was alive and dancing again, just waiting to emerge in new and wondrous ways. I started to teach AT from my home studio, and soon I was hired by UC-CCM and Xavier University as adjunct faculty. Most of my students have been artists, but it has always been a real joy to expand into working with people from all walks of life (including a firefighter, football coach, accountant, and beauticians!).
The Alexander Technique has had a profound influence on every aspect of my life, and has allowed me to accomplish things I never would have imagined I could do, from performing barefoot at Carnegie Hall to designing a medical research study and co-authoring a paper published in the Journal of Urology. It has allowed me to access parts of my soul that were dormant, and it has added depth and ease to everything I do.
For instance, not only am I no longer terrified of speaking in public, but now I actually enjoy and thrive while communicating verbally, both to individuals and large audiences. I no longer fear my audiences, and performance anxiety has been transformed into the exciting thrill of connection. I now have enormous reserves of energy to take on projects, whereas I used to feel fatigue and lack of motivation. I’m also much more efficient with my time.
The daily work of improving the use of my mind-body-self (which I think of as my primary instrument) indirectly improves my violin playing. To me, AT is like the “missing link”: that special “something” that I intuitively knew was missing from my technique when I was younger is now something I can better understand and consciously control.
I am now able to continue playing the violin at a high professional level without practicing for weeks or months at a time, and technical feats on the instrument that used to be very challenging now seem easy. It has become a constant source of joy to be able to share what I have learned with other musicians, so that I can help them save huge amounts of time, energy, and resources in seeking that elusive “something” that makes everything flow with ease.
Sharing my experience with others:
Ever since I began taking AT lessons in 2003, I have been aware of the connection between AT, my spiritual sensitivities, and music. These three things have always been a part of my teaching, coloring the style and content of the lessons and influencing the way I communicate information to my students.
The Art of Freedom represents the full flowering of many years of gestation and deep self-reflective work integrating those aspects of my life-experience.
Words can hardly transmit my excitement to be offering the fruits of my work in a way that is specifically designed to help other musicians on their own personal journeys away from struggle and into peace, joy, and the full realization of their artistic potential.
This is me performing Songs of the Infinite, by my former husband, Miguel Roig-Francolí:
In addition to performing as a soloist on the modern violin, I also perform on the baroque violin and tour with Adastra, a Period Instrument Duo with my duo partner, Vivian Montgomery on period keyboard. I perform regularly with Apollo’s Fire, the Cleveland Baroque Orchestra.
To read more details about how AT has deeply influenced my personal evolution as a violinist, CLICK HERE.