by George I. Lister and John Baron
For more than 100 years and since FM Alexander began his trials of communicating his work to others, lessons, teaching, and training have focused on a hands-on approach. Alexander discovered that to properly communicate his principles of good use, he needed to combine vocal communication with touch and direction through the use of his hands placed on the recipient. From our earliest days of taking lessons, training and teaching, this has been the bedrock of the study of the Alexander Technique.
Recently, some have experimented with teaching using contemporary non hands-on means of interacting with their students. These teachers, some who are calling their work the Alexander Technique, some who are saying it is based on the Alexander Technique, seem to believe their studies are equally effective whether hands-on with the teacher and student in close proximity, or through using electronic means such as Skype. Their contention is that many more people may be exposed to the Technique if there is no necessity to study hands-on in the intimate setting of an Alexander lesson.
Our feeling is that their contention is not correct. The principles of good use are basic to our work. Some of us spend much of our lives exploring our own freedom and ease, finding available and dynamic ways to remind ourselves to not interfere with poise and stature. That is how we teach. It is not enough to send out a few suggestions in a Zoom session, and hope the student will put them into practice in the way we intend.
We all have our own filters and receive stimuli in the way that makes sense to each of us. It is our job as teachers to guide our students into broadening the perspective and to create a partnership that will allow the student to gain a new and useful understanding. We do not believe this can be accomplished through the use of over the air media.
We are not against developing the use of contemporary facilities to expand awareness and utility of the Alexander Technique. This is the purpose and the mission of the Bay Area Alexander Technique. However, we are clear that conducting lessons over this same media, is an unproven technique and not in the spirit of the foundation of our work. We are not willing to jeopardize the sensitivity of our work, and to dilute its basic principles.