I am a professor of engineering, and also a musician (pianist, composer). I started Alexander technique lessons with Käthe around 2006 after grappling with several years of pain in my shoulders and arms, causing difficulty in playing piano. (I also worked in tandem with a physical therapist, who dealt with some specific physiological issues.) Nothing I had tried on my own seemed to help.
The AT experience overall was remarkable. With a combined emphasis on body awareness, focused relaxation, breathing and centering, I gradually had less pain, significantly greater freedom of movement, and finally an ability to practice piano regularly and easily.
Käthe is an unusually talented and inspiring teacher. She provides a welcoming and comfortable environment, but behind this was persistent and astutely directed technical guidance. She has a wonderful ability, through images and discussion, to get one in touch with one’s inner body. Unexpectedly, the outcome was not only facility of movement and freedom from pain, but also improved posture, poise, confidence, and interaction with my surroundings in daily life.
Käthe’s teaching helped me discover greater freedom, fluidity and ease of playing, connecting the breath to the form and phrasing of music, and the voice to the natural resonance of the instrument. She approaches each student as a whole person, with a deep awareness of individual needs and aims, and helps unlock the creative voice by removing blockages, whether physical or mental. Her guidance and mentorship came at a pivotal moment in my development as a cellist, and were essential in enabling me to follow my dreams as a performer and pursue a career in music!
Käthe Jarka is a wonderful teacher of the Alexander Technique who I have invited to teach at countless classes at Mannes College, New York University and elsewhere. She is also a terrific musician and instrumentalist(cello), so she brings to her Alexander work a deep understanding of musical phrasing and the physical demands of playing an instrument. I have sent many of my students to work with her privately and all of them have loved their work with her.
I am a flutist and my sound used to get tiny, pinched and flat about a week before each audition. My fingers were also a bit sloppy and slow. Gradually, during my Alexander Technique study with Kathe I began to be able to play normally in auditions and performances. Kathe focused a lot on poise and direction of back, neck, head and arms which has freed up my fingers for the fast virtuosity expected in my profession.
—S. S-J., flutist
Käthe Jarka is the perfect Alexander teacher for a musician. Blending her own personal understanding of what it is like to play an instrument day in and day out with her fine training and wonderful hands Kathe is a miracle worker.. She seems to intuitivey “get: excatly what you need on a given day, and is flexible and creative in working one the table, on “chair” and “monkey”, and also on how to “hold” one’s instrument and play with ease. I cannot recommend Kathe Jarka’s Alexander work highly enough.
Erica Kiesewetter, violinist
Faculty, Bard College
Käthe is a truly gifted artist. I have (only semi-jokingly) referred to her as a “wizard” to my friends because of her amazing efficiency at immediately helping assuage problems I’ve been having, with simply a touch of her hand. I came to Käthe three years ago, when I was experiencing pain in my left arm as a result of overuse (I am a concert pianist who performs quite frequently). Before I met her, I had spent lots of time and money on several physical therapists, chiropractors, and physicians, none of whom were able to pinpoint the issue I was having or to have any real lasting effect. I was prescribed a new mattress, corticosteroids, massage, adjustment, and muscle relaxants, none of which worked. I was essentially at my wit’s end by the time I came to Käthe; I was convinced that I was going to have to give up playing the piano! My first Alexander lesson was an eye-opening revelation. I realized how much of the issue lay with the massive stress I had been under, and also how much of the body-mind connection was playing a role in my issues. Since that first lesson, what Käthe has taught me with her gentle and non-invasive guidance has not only helped me enact constructive change in my posture and in my approach to the piano, but has also taught me how to live my life in a less stressful state. Words can’t possibly express the gratitude that I feel. Simply put, her lessons have enabled me to improve the quality of my life.
Jessica Osborne, concert pianist
Käthe has been a warm and insightful cello teacher for our eight-year-old daughter, Leah. Käthe is unfailingly patient, and always finds a way to connect with Leah and focus her attention during her lessons. She has a wonderful way of breaking difficult material down into manageable steps, and Leah has been able to make tremendous progress because of Käthe’s thoughtful approach to teaching.
Amy Kauffamn and Corneius Dufallo