Introduce Yourself Here!

edited April 2006 in Learning
For those just arriving to this new forum, here's the place where you can say a little bit about yourself and - if you like, your interests besides Alexander Technique.

As for myself, I'm located in California, just above San Francisco in a small town. I've been trying to write about AT since I started teacher training in 1979. Aside from teaching AT privately, I'm interested in David Bohm style Dialogue, playing the array mbira and juggling a toy called Stix. I also publish a tiny phone book and have worked as a signwriter and fine artist. You can see more about me at http://www.franis.org

Dod wanted some help with making this forum more of a happening place, so I volunteered, and here I am!
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Comments

  • doddod
    edited December 1969
    Hello,

    I'm Dod, an Alexander teacher, a financial trader, a tennis player, a chicken keeper, happily married, never more contented than when sitting in the sun, gardening, swimming ... for anyone interested in knowing more about me, my website is www.dodman.org

    I'd like to explain why I think an AT forum is potentially useful. To me, a forum seems the most rounded model of how online discussion can take place, with privacy (everything that's written isn't sent to everyone's inbox), inclusiveness (ie, the shy get a voice, too, without having to worry unduly about being shouted down), space to rant (for loudmouths, that not everyone has to listen to), easy to access archives, places for links to other sites, sections for events to be listed, everything easily and quickly accessible, and, not least, a customisable 'shop front'.

    In my opinion, the Alexander Technique needs a thriving forum. However, for it to work, people have to post!

    Nicholas
  • edited December 1969
    Welcome Dod! See - I'm posting, I'm posting.
    Also I wanted to say thanks for inviting me onto this board from the Alex-tech list.

    :wink:
  • edited December 1969
    Dod (and Angel), thank you for allowing me to become a member of this Forum. I came to it via the Complete Guide to the Alexander Technique, which has proved to be a good source of reading.

    A little about myself - I work for an international financial institution in London, enjoy the all the arts, swimming, cooking, travelling.

    I have been having Alexander Technique lessons for the past 5 months, although I should have done it around 25 years ago, but at that stage I was a teenager with a scoliosis and very rounded shoulders (which yes, my parents always told me to pull back!). I also had a bad fall last autumn which resulted in excruiating lower back/neck pain, but the whiplash was not the cause, as I later acknowledged. Fortunately I found a very well respected AT teacher, in fact I could not have fallen into better hands, and embarked on two lessons a week, every week give or take Easter/summer holidays; in fact I came to notice changes in about a month after having started lessons, which surprised me, as from what I've read since the changes can take time to show themselves. I am still having these lessons and can now go through my day with either no pain or relatively little pain, my shoulders have unimagineably broadened/straightened and are looking wonderful and my sway back has straightened out out of all recognition. Hopefully this will give encouragement to other pupils and those entertaining lessons. I simply could not have made a better decision this year.

    You list swimming as one of your hobbies. I am about half way through a course of Shaw Method lessons. As someone who has always love the water, this has proved to bring a whole new dimension to Alexander Technique, and its philosophy of bringing fun and enjoyment back into swimming yet at the same time its meditative approach provides a thinking approach to exericse. Gliding and putting my face in the water came very naturally, so now I'm concentrating on strokes.

    I do, however, have one question, which perhaps should be listed under another section of this Forum: is the Alexander Technique teacher training a prerogative of the wealthy these days? Yes, I have had thoughts which refuse to go away, but am currently content continuing with my lessons, because I know I still need them.

    Stella
  • doddod
    edited December 1969
    Hello Stella,

    It was great to hear your inspiring story. I'm sure reading it would help people considering having lessons, who might otherwise doubt the magnitude of the potential changes lying in store for them.

    I have read about the Shaw method (put a mention in the 'links' section, if you like) but my swimming is pretty much restricted to floating around enjoying a watery wallow, I'm afraid. This summer has been fantastic as we live near the sea. I did do a running workshop with Malcolm Balk some time ago, however, which was truly fascinating. (Check the 'running' link in the 'teachers' section if you're interested). He showed how possible it was to apply the Technique 'on the hoof' and to get repeated, dramatic results.

    Concerning your question about teacher training being only for the wealthy these days. I think it is restrictive, not just because it costs a lot of money, but because it's so demanding on a trainee's time. Courses seem to be structured in such a way that it is difficult if not impossible to work 'normal' hours. I think there are beginning to be changes here, with weekend and modular training becoming available.

    Nicholas
  • edited December 1969
    Hi Nicholas,

    What a lovely surprise to see your reply.

    I forgot to mention that with all this legnthening, I have also added at least an inch to my petite height, it might be more, and can now see my bust, something I was unable to do due to the stoop I had developed - apparently my teacher says this is not unusual for a female pupil to comment upon!

    I've added the Art of Swimming website as a link, thanks. I only knew about as a result of the book mentioned later.

    Yes, I've heard of the Art of Running; in fact Steven Shaw and Malcolm Balk are jointly running a triathlon short break entitled "Swim long, Run tall" on 19-20 October at Champneys Tring.

    Actually, you might be a perfect candidate for mastering the Shaw Method as you used that all important word, "float"! In fact Alexander Technique is widely accepted in Isreal, where Shaw Method began life, where Steven Shaw did his teacher training, and it's not for no reason that he still runs holidays to the Red Sea, where floating is big! Did you know that Alexander Technique forms part of the training of Israeli military pilots? Makes sense! That's precisely what I've been doing this afternoon in a pool, albeit with some thought applied to it - I am now able to float as an octopus, starfish & a needle, and the rotation is coming along nicely. Oh, and I omitted to tell you about the frisbee-playing which takes place underwater at the end of my lessons now - my teacher assures me that not every pupil of hers is given this task, it very much depends on their sense of humour! But, it's great, all of it, and takes the competitve edge totally out of swimming, something from which Steven Shaw himself suffered.

    You might be interested in Steven's first book called "The Art of Swimming, a new direction using the Alexander Technique" - it's not just about swimming, there is a huge amount about the Alexander Technique and I read it in about less than two days, I was hooked. He co-wrote this with Armand D'Angour, who teaches classics at Oxford University and who learned to swim as an adult with Steven. Shaw's second, newly published book entitled "Master the Art of Swimming" is much more focused on strokes and is very good indeed although, sadly, it's impossible to take the book to the poolside.

    Perhaps you could put these two swimming/AT related books on your Books link & the book which prompted me to seek lessons from the author: "Perfect Poise, Perfect Life - Bring your body into balance and revolutionise your life" by Noel Kingsley? Noel's book actually explains Alexander Technique in a very easy to understand manner, perfect for someone who is thinking of taking up lessons but doesn't know what Alexander Technique involves. It still has a special place on my bedside table and I still read it; Noel also has a sense of humour, so it's not dry to read at all.

    I was interested to read your reply about the teacher training courses; who knows if I would be considered to be a suitable candidate, but I would certainly be interested to consider any weekend or modular trianing courses in the future. Incidentally, the Shaw Method teacher training is also taught over weekends throughout the year.

    Stella
  • edited December 1969
    Welcome Stella!

    You're right about the cost of training on time and pocketbook. But you can solve these problems without so much money, if you give up other things. The only people who I watched during teacher training who made it without parental backup took a restaurant job or some other job that started in the afternoon. Then they could be in AT classes during the morning and working in the afternoon/evening. If you are already committed to some other time constraint, this would conflict. To do AT training, I had to give up owning a horse.

    Having the parental backup for me was also necessary the first time some unpredictable chaos hit the fan. I didn't have this possible help, so I had to drop out of training mid-way and change teachers.

    The way I had the time to work at my own business during AT training, was I developed a split sleeping schedule. I slept from 4:30pm for two and a half hours and 3:30am for the same, like clockwork. After AT classes in the AM, I picked up materials and installed my work in the afternoon, then drove home before or after my end of the day nap where I'd arranged to crash at a friend's house in SF. I had dinner and socialized a little and did my work at home from 10pm to 2am each night. This wierd schedule saved much time for me, because if I slept in one stretch, I needed eight to nine hours.

    Great story about what AT has done for you! This inspires me to start a topic for that.
  • edited December 1969
    Hi,

    I thought I'd introduce myself in two ways -- by an appreciation and a story.

    First the appreciation -- I am really excited by the forum idea! As a 'learner' who's been doing AT for about 2 years I'm really enjoying having my ideas tested, demolished, reconstructed and even occasionally verified! I figure that the more time I can read about the paths others are going through, the more time I'm going to actually spend thinking myself. So I hope that this forum becomes buzzing with ideas and want to say thanks to the tireless admin persons!

    Ok, I promised you a (true) story. Here we go.

    I remember being on holiday one year with my parents as an eight year old at one of those beach resorts. We were crossing a quiet square in the holiday complex, and as usual I was a few paces ahead of them. I noticed another boy, who looked about the same age as me, coming towards us from the opposite corner of the square. I remember that as we were walking towards each other, I was going to have to change my path slightly to walk past each other and avoid a collision. But, like mirrors of each other, each time one of us changed direction slightly, the other seemed to do the same, and we came closer and closer. Then I remember being alarmed how much he looked like me, at which point I felt my legs get in a tangle. The result was that we both had to put our hands out and do a kind of 'dance' past each other to avoid a crash.

    I don't know if other people have experienced anything similar. But in retrospect that day taught me a lot about endgaining -- and how it makes failure MORE likely. By focusing on the thing you don't want to do, you're working on a negative pattern, and all your attention is drawn towards the thing you shouldn't be thinking about. And when unexpected circumstances arise, such as meeting your 'doppelganger', then your habitual strategies are even more disturbed, making failure, however unlikely, virtually inevitable. It becomes a kind of 'must not fail' train of thought which immediately introduces the idea of the very thing you're trying to avoid.

    Best,

    Steve
    Bristol, UK
  • doddod
    edited December 1969
    Steve,

    An intriguing story! I regularly do that side stepping dance when walking towards someone on a path or pavement, and finding we both move to avoid each other at the same moment, but go in the same direction, and then we move the other way, but again do it together, and so one. It usually feels as though I'm mildly hypnotised. I know what's going on but can't stop it.

    A personal trait of my own surfaced as I was reading your post. I thought I saw where it was going (you were walking towards a reflection of yourself) and responded to that before I had got more than half way.

    I find I do that a lot of the time, especially when people are talking to me. I then take over their part of the conversation, just to ensure it goes the way I have anticipated.

    Anyway, welcome to this forum. I hope it buzzes, too.

    Nicholas
  • edited December 1969
    dod - I thought that what you observed was so interesting I went and started another thread to reply. It's under learning..."changing the way you talk."

    I love stories when people talk about their personal accounts of their experiences. More, more!

    Welcome to the forum, Steve!
  • Hello,

    thank you very much for implementing this discussion group.
    Thank you as well to those who will exchange information.

    I am not an Alexander Technique teacher but I try to support
    the AT community so far I can. I studied computer science
    and do work as a consultant in the IT & COMMS industry.

    My wife is Gabriele Breuninger and she is an AT teacher
    trained by Chris Stevens (1943-2003).

    In 2002 I started to collect information about books
    related to the Alexander Technique and published a pdf
    based list. Then I was convinced to offer selected books
    as well.

    Until now I collected background information about more
    than 600 titles and editions. Also I am proud that I was
    able to buy more than 300 titles and everybody who is
    interested in can have a look to the web list

    http://at-ffm.de/books

    Yes it looks like a commercial book store but it is my
    hobby only. I try to cover my expenses. The time I need
    will never be paid. It is my way to say thank you to the
    AT community because I learned a lot from various teachers.

    Hopefully I will receive additional information about
    missing data or editions or missing titles from all over
    the world.

    Kind regards

    Peter
    Frankfurt, Germany
  • Thanks Peter, for your work with books on Alexander Technique. Welcome!
  • Hello Nicholas and everyone AT,

    I'm quite grateful that this forum exists, I just hope there are actually still people reading it to take part in informative discussions!
    I am brand new to the Alexander Technique. I wish I could say I have been working with the technique for some solid amount of time, because I can just tell it would be tremendously helpful, but we all have to start somewhere!
    I stumbled upon the Alexander Technique through leisurely, informative reading. I have a history of difficulties that I will explain in more detail below, so I was surely glad to come across this information on AT.
    A little history: Since I was about 14, I became quite interested in gymanstics and the mechanical wonders of the body. This snowballed to teaching some basic gymnastics, taking classes (I was about 17 years old by this time), all of which continued to fuel my interest in "the body". I had 2 injuries through the years, one lower back, one shoulder, but looking back with what I know now, I'm lucky it was just 2. Even with supervision, I was so hard on my body, pounding on my joints and over stretching my muscles.
    At 22, I met a man in the town I had just moved to who taught Pilates. A guru, I swear. He was in the process of training 2 dedicated young women to become instructors and (graciously) I was welcomed into their little community. I learned about the body through mostly Pilates, some gymastics, as well as trampoline work, ballet, swimming, and running. He liked to incorporate everything and I soaked it all up. Along the way, he assisted me in HEALING a lower back injury from when I was 14, a trampoline incident. The shoulder injury was always under control with constant, proper use. It was during these years I realized the extent to which I had stressed my body through pounding and over stretching. My lack of muscular development had taken a toll on my joints and the very muscles that held my body together.I felt privileged to have suddenly acquired this knowledge, how invalulable!
    Fast forward a couple years. After working with the Pilates crew on and off (it was a bit expensive!!) for about 3 years, I finally moved, so that I am currently about 1 1/2 hours away from their studio. Since my move 2 years ago (I am now turning 27) my body has gone down hill, and fast. I tried to keep up when I left, I joined a yoga studio and tried to keep active, but the pain in my shoulder and in my joints overall was quite discouraging. To be quite honest, about 1 1/2 years ago I came close to giving up, settling with the idea that it would be a painful and an extraordinary effort to do anything physical (i.e. exercise!) Thankfully, my significant other encouraged me to do something about this. I finally did. I went to the orthopedist for my shoulder, which had grown to a seemingly larger problem (tricep, upper back and neck). Through an MRI and arthogram they found some significant tendinitis in the shoulder as well as a possible tear of the capsule. After this I began physical therapy in November '07, and have gone 2 to 3 times a week since. I am finally feeling some relief (now that I am with a worth while therapist! They are hard to find!) My shoulder is almost as strong as its counterpart. My neck and upper back continue to plague me with tightness in and around the shoulder blades, and into my neck, with an obvious lack of strength, all of which cause headaches. My shoulders tend to 'crunch up' and forward, through stress and habit, obviously tightening the muscles in the area. Lastly, my joints, every single one of them, (my upper back and shoulder are most severe), CRACK (or pop), all the time. This can't be healthy! The orthopedist wasn't concerned because his job is surgery and he said " we don't operate on a shoulder that pops" (duh!) My concern is my whole body (esp. my upper back) and joint stability, not just my shoulder! (mainstream doctors are smart...sense the sarcasm?)
    All in all, I know I need to build strength but I am concerned with my 'lazy' muscles and posture. PT is helpful, but we all know that if we are not aware in the moment of a bad physical habit, there is no use, because we can't fix it!
    So I am looking for some guidance with the AT. The closest teacher to where I am is at least an hour away. (I live in the northwest corner of Connecticut). I figure if I could get some tips, sip up some more knowledge through this amazing learning vessel called the internet, I could be at least better off.
    I have read through most of the site, The Complete Guide to the Alexander Technique, which is a great start. Any other ideas, tips, things that helped you start off on the right foot, would be a great and appreciated help!!!

    Thanks for listening,
    Casey
  • Hello Casey,

    Welcome!

    I hope you get lots of other replies; but this forum has been quiet, recently.

    Whenever anyone asks me how they can help themselves learn a little more about Alexander work, I send them here:

    http://www.dodman.org/index.php/Writing/Alexander/Self-help

    I wrote those articles and emails from my understanding of how to pass on the essence of this work.

    I'm aware my way of 'teaching' may not suit everyone; so I usually also suggest The Complete Guide to the Alexander Technique, which has a self-help section. One of the suggested links goes to the Performance School, which has a section on working on yourself.

    However, you may have visited all these sites already.

    I'd be interested to know if you have; and what you discovered about yourself.

    I hesitate to recommend a separate avenue altogether; but I believe the following site might provide you with some ideas, at the very least, for exercises that are probably more 'Alexander sympathetic' than most others you will encounter.

    http://www.flowingbody.com/

    Finally, I can also recommend a book called Somatics, by Thomas Hanna. This link should put his work into an Alexander perspective:

    http://www.somatics.com/hannart.htm



    Nicholas
  • edited November 2008
    Hello, my name is Jeannette Brooks, from Arizona. I have read the book by Barbara Conable, How to LEarn the Alexander Technique A Manual For Students. And I am practicing what I have learned. I can't afford a teacher, as much as I would like to have one. My husband who is heard of hearing claims he can understand me a lot better. Before AT, I have had much problems singing well, as much as I strongly desire to do well. I had vocal teachers telling me to "Sing loud, let it go" " Stand up straight, shoulders back, breath deeply, in your tummy, don't move your shoulders or chest. etc., with lessons I became worse instead of better. Then, last week I was asked to sing a solo in church, and it came off very well. And my husband, who is my best (or worst?) critic said I did a professional job. He used to say there was no hope for me. I didn't even worry about performing. I wasn't afraid. At the last minute before I got up, just for a second, I thought, in the big room, and all these people and no microphone, (the microphone wasn't working), they won't be able to hear me, so I will have to sing louder, then, "Oops," I remembered that I do not have to "project". With the Alexander Technique, with everything lined up, my voice will be heard by everyone. And it was. So, I believe in AT. And I really didn't expect results this fast. I would like to know what I should read next to continue my training, and is there a good AT book for singers that you have used and recommend.
  • Hello Jeannette,

    Welcome; and well done.

    I haven't read Barbara's book but it seems to have given you a good grounding in the Technique. I'm not sure what you should read next. In many respects, the best way of continuing learning is to carry on with what you are doing, but going deeper inside yourself, by remembering to apply what you've learned more often, and with greater and greater effectively. All this takes time and effort, as you can imagine; but it doesn't necessarily require more knowledge.

    You might like to click on 'links' and check out both these sites:

    Mouritz
    Alexander books available in Europe

    That should give you some idea of what's out there; and the Mouritz site has a lot of reviews.

    Good luck.

    Nicholas
  • I am from ChinaPR a old country far from US,and I like reading,writing, and English is my second language.
    I try hard to improve myself from learning more about the west,from the language,the mind,and skill.
    I like bodybuilding,pilates,yoga,and I find this web by chance,from my experience,I know that it is a great job to study alexander technique,it is a efficient way to improve the way of life.
    Hope to learn from you all!
  • Hi All,

    My name is Craig Penney and I live in Launceston Tasmania, Australia.
    I have been learning and applying The Alexander Technique for over 2 years now and I am becoming more and more certain that this is the solution to my chronic pain/tension problem that I have had for now well over 10 years.
    I find forums such as this invaluable to my progress and thank you sincerely for allowing me to join.

    I recently went to The Melbourne School for FM Alexander studies for a few days on an intensive course they ran and found that I jumped ahead in progress quite a bit.
    I am now working on starting Teacher Training for 2010 or maybe earlier, primarily for my own personal progress but I am open to maybe becoming a teacher one day.

    Please feel free to offer any hints, tips comments to me as I am wanting to progress as quickly as possible.

    Kind Regards

    Craig
  • Hello, I would like to introduce myself as an Army NCO currently stationed in Germany.

    I had never heard of AT until I injured my neck in combatives (hand to hand combat training). I was informed A few months later that I had arthritis and that was why I felt I wasn’t healing. To make a long story short the military Dr. strongly recommended AT to maintain my strength and mobility while helping to slow/prevent future deterioration. I was unable to find any instructors via the net in my area and have decided to go it alone.

    I found this forum and thought it would be beneficial to join. I have not begun studying yet as I am not certain what books/videos to begin with.
    I enjoy scuba diving, martial arts, HASH runs (not the drug), art, and fun.

    Like Craigp has mentioned, “Please feel free to offer any hints, tips comments to me as I am wanting to progress as quickly as possible”.

    V/R
    ROC
  • Hello, my name is virginia. I am an Alexander Technique teacher settled in Valencia, Spain. I studied in Amsterdam in ATCA.

    I am interested in cognitive science, cognitive psychology and neurology. I would like to connect it with the Alexander Technique but the more I read the less I know. It would be great to find somebody with the same interest!

    I am also interested in dance and movement.

    You can visit my website http://www.technique-alexander.org

    saludos

    virginia
  • Hi,
    I was in a car accident about 12 years ago where my head cracked the windshield. I had some pain in the right side of my neck and I thought it would go away. Instead more and more of my muscles got recruited into trying to give my head some stability. In the intervening years I've tried: steroid shots, biofeedback, hypnosis, massage, acupuncture, chiropractors, muscle relaxants, talk therapy, yoga, the wii Fit, and now Alexander Technique.

    My first AT session was enlightening because I was able to walk properly during the session. This suggested that there was nothing inherently wrong with me but that it really was a case of habits. Unfortunately I have been having difficulty practicing AT on my own and feel like the changes that I'm getting from the lessons are diminishing.

    I live in NYC and make some unusual music and art, I'm currently unemployed but was working in computer programming for a long time.

    geef
  • Hello everyone,

    geef how are you getting on?

    A little bit about me.. I'm a new Osteopath Working in the UK trying to get my practice off the ground so unfortunately I also work in IT to help pay the bills! I came across AT after a doctor suggested I investigate. I have tried the initial neck relax and head forward and found it very useful and I do move more easily. I appreciate that it is possible to give up things and do AT full time but when you have kids and a mortgage things and you're the only bread winner it gets a bit more complicated.

    I am determined to learn but as i don't have much time at the weekends/weekdays I am really interested to try and do as much as possible for myself.

    When I have free time but when I do like to spend doing some stereoscopic photography or with my kids!

    The site is looks great and it looks like a great way to learn. I am hoping to learn from you and hopefully also contribute.

    Sanjeev
  • doddod
    edited September 2009
    Hello Sanjeev,

    This isn't a very active forum but there's a fair bit of information here if you scout around. You say:

    "I have tried the initial neck relax and head forward and found it very useful and I do move more easily."

    May I ask how you 'do' this? It's an interesting and educational process to try and put such an apparently simple procedure into words, especially as every individual will describe it differently.

    You talk about it being 'initial'; but it's also the 'last word' on the subject. There's plenty in between; but if you're restricted in terms of time and/or money from having lessons, giving appropriate attention to your neck, head and back, while doing other things, can be of enormous benefit.

    Nicholas
  • Hello,
    I am figuring on the forum as mmp (my initials). I qualified as an AT teacher in Summer 2008 and practice from home in East Sussex. My background is Philosophy and Artificial intelligence/Cognitive Science. I have the benefit of being a Senior Citizen - that is I receive a pension and need to teach just enough to top up the pension to be able to live (modestly). That gives me the time to work a lot on my own and to devote much time to reading up on AT, making my own notes, pondering, thinking about teaching aspects, experimenting, discovering. The drawback of qualifying so late in my life is of course that I have fewer years available to undo the habits of more than half a lifetime. Apart from AT, I am a musician, and have recently started to write poetry.

    Good luck to you all in your work!
    Magdalena
  • Hello Magdalena,

    Thanks for introducing yourself.

    Please post any ideas you come up with that you think might interest others.

    Good luck on your journey. I know Alexander said, "We can throw away the habit of a lifetime in a few minutes if we use our brains", but it's not always so easy!.

    Nicholas
  • Hello,

    I go by shiwa, aka Carlos, and I have been taking Alexander lessons for a year now and have had 36 lessons so far. I was going once a week, then every other week, and now I'm down to once a month. I wish I could go more regularly and frequently, but it's still better than nothing. I first read about Alexander Technique about ten years ago but never thought I'd have the opportunity. In 2009 I did Network Spinal Analysis and it was helpful, at least in leading me to AT and finding a teacher. NSA was good but there were 5 other people in the room with you and the teacher/Dr. does not give you her undivided attention, like my AT teacher does. I do miss a feeling of community as I do not see any of his other students and do not know anyone else who has done AT. It is nice to have somewhere to communicate with others about it. I am feeling so strange lately, mostly in a good way as I do feel myself starting to unwind a bit, and it would be nice to hear from others Thanks for making this forum available!!
  • Hi Shiwa,
    Yes it is strange to find yourself changing, and being impressed with the oddest little things that are different about yourself as you learn Alexander Technique. Where did you do Network Spinal Analysis? The tailored and undivided attention an Alexander Technique teacher offers, even in a classroom situation, is more satisfying than the classes in other disciplines.
    You might enjoy attending some of the workshops that are offered, depending on where you are located. I wish somewhere there was a month-long residential workshop where people could gather to learn Alexander Technique, but that doesn't seem to exist any more. Dod and I will have to start one, I guess...
  • Hi
    My name is Jim (Shepherd)

    Reading about people trying to do AT on thier own made me wonder if anyone else thinks there is a peculiar lack of pictures
    diagrams and visual aids in general, in the world of the Alexander Technique.
  • Hello Jim,

    I think it's deliberately done to help people avoid the temptation to copy what they see. There is a difference between following an internal process, which indirectly results in an external change, and trying to produce that change directly, without going through the internal process first.

    Nicholas
  • Hi,

    My name is Bill. I've been a lurker on here for maybe 2 years now. I'm 76 years old and 3 years ago decided to get back to the piano I studied in my youth (5 years of private lessons and a little dabbling after that), and do so essentially without lessons. Almost immediately I encountered a lot of back pain. A close friend who is also very piano savvy suggested I try the Alexander technique (AT) and even suggested a teacher who once was his student who combines AT with piano in her lessons. I eventually did take one lesson from her last summer which was of much value. But she lives too far away to take lessons regularly.

    Meanwhile, my main approach was to try to learn AT on my own about 1.5 years ago. I started buying books, used and cheap, mostly on Amazon. I soon got much relief from the pain. But the help with the piano playing has been long and tedious. For me, it has taken a lot of extra time to get to where I'm at and it has only been recently that I have been making good progress. Tackling the music is hard enough and trying to blend aspects of AT into the mental/physical process has been the main stumbling block. While I feel I still have a long way to go with AT, at this point I'm getting a lot of benefit from it in my playing.

    I might point out just one benefit. Common wisdom is to practice 20 minutes and take a short break before continuing on to the next 20 minute interval. I have been able to easily extend that to 30 minutes and am now experimenting with 45 minutes.

    I do suspect that individual experiences with AT can be quite variable. What seems to help me the most is to make sure I'm always focused on releasing tension at the point where the spine meets the head. But I know the many other "directions" I practice are quite useful as well. But its blending these other directions into the process that is hard right now.

    I may repost much of this in a separate post on piano practice.
  • Hello Bill,

    I consider what you've achieved is amazing. Learning to apply the principles of the Alexander Technique to your life without having lessons (or, in your case, having had only one lesson) is extremely demanding. It's not so much the inherent difficulty of the practice, but the difficulty of maintaining the presence of mind to continue with it, despite the demands of whatever activity you're engaging in. For you, this is the piano. For others, it might be anything; but it's always hard work to share your focus between what you're doing and the way you're doing it, which is 'all' that's required!

    One crucial point to bear in mind is that while the 'practice' itself is very simple, it should also remain very 'light'; but I'm sure you know that already.

    Nicholas
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