Emma Alter

Emma AlterViolin/ Viola

Violinist/Violist (Early Music and Feldenkrais specialist)


Emma is a classically-trained violin/violist with over 20 years of teaching and professional performance experience.  She enjoys teaching violin and viola to both children and adults from beginners upwards, and is currently Senior Violin Tutor at Hill House School International, Chelsea.

As a qualified Feldenkrais Method Teacher, (2015 EuroTAB), Emma specialises in working with performers playing through physical discomfort, and pain. She has given workshops at the RCM, RNCM, RWCMD, Birmingham Conservatoire, and for the Musicians Union.

Emma has helped musicians with: 

  • performance anxiety and stage presence 
  • increasing artistic expression
  • postural issues
  • restricted movement 
  • chronic tension (including back pain; shoulder pain; frozen shoulders)
  • RSI
  • Freer breathing

She enjoys making bespoke ergonomic aids for playing (not just for string-players!) in her bowmaking/woodwork studio.

Emma helps clients find out which movement habits are holding them back, and works with them to find and explore new ways of moving more freely: facilitating change in their posture and how they use their physical selves. Emma began playing the violin when she was 6, later taking up the viola. Whilst studying at the RNCM on the viola, she began specialising in Historical Performance Practice. She won various awards including one from the Countess of Munster Musical Trust in order to take up postgraduates in period violin and viola at the RCM, and afterwards, a degree in Early Music from Amsterdamse Hogeschool voor de Kunsten, under Andrew Manze and Lucy van Dael. 

Emma has been freelancing since leaving Manchester for London, and is fortunate to have worked with many of the top Early Music groups in the UK and beyond. She is principal viola for Simon Standage's CM90 ensemble (now for over six years); was principal viola of La Nuova Maniera (2007-2012), and has been guest principal and co-principal for many groups including: Academy of Ancient Music, Gabrieli Consort and Players, the Sixteen, the Early Opera Company, English Baroque Soloists, Arcangelo, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Hanover Band, Classical Opera, and Orchestre Romantique et Revolutionnaire. She is a founder member of the period group Constanze Quartet, performing music spanning from the 17th to 20th century.

Emma runs regular Feldenkrais for Musicians workshops in London and further afield. She blogs regularly on use of the mind-body connection on her Feldenkrais website:www.themovingbrain.com

You can find out more about her bows, mutes and making here: www.alterbows.com

"Emma has worked wonders with our son's approach to the violin. He has responded well to her and has acquired a natural playing style that suits his personality. Emma's bright and positive outlook have helped him improve as a musician and performer. With her guidance and encouragement he has played numerous ensemble and solo performance pieces with care, confidence and enjoyment."
K Seydo.

"I take this opportunity to thank you for the incredible job you've done with Samra: she really likes playing her violin, I feel she has improved a lot in the last two terms and it's absolute fun to listen together to the pieces you give her and discuss with Samra about them. Samra really likes you and the way you teach her."
M. di Maio

"I had Alexander Technique lessons while I was a student and these would leave me feeling “magically transformed” whereas my Feldenkrais sessions with Emma gave me things to think about and to experiment with—a more interactive and conscious experience. Emma said she could feel the sound of the cello through my body when I played, like a tuning fork, and when she made some subtle movements to my spine to release areas of tightness, the sound of my cello increased as my body vibrated even more freely.’ I still connect with the feeling of fluidity I gained in those few lessons with Emma."
Sarah MacMahon Cellist. Callino Quartet 

I’m a professional jazz and gospel singer. I approached Emma for help because I was struggling with bad posture, life-long bad habits and physical tension when singing; my vocal technique was suffering and I couldn’t hit the high notes with confidence. The one-to-one lessons were brilliant and I quickly became aware of what Emma called the “obscure obvious” – things I do with my body that I had never noticed before. For example, we noticed that I was not releasing enough tummy muscles when inhaling. Even this single observation has made a massive difference to my technique and my ability to sing the way I want to sing...Emma is an excellent communicator – down-to-earth and understanding – and I feel in very safe hands with her, not least because I know that she is a performing musician herself, so she is “one of us”.
A.B.,  Jazz/Gospel singer

Emma Alter

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