Some book recommendations
So I've been revisiting some Alexander Technique books during lockdown; here's a couple I'd recommend to anyone wanting to do a spot of reading in the absence of hands-on work.
The first is Frank Pierce Jones' "Freedom to Change" (I have an older version - it was originally published as "Body Awareness in Action" in 1976). Frank Pierce Jones was professor of classics at two American universities and a student of FM Alexander and his brother AR Alexander. Pierce Jones tells us about the Alexander Technique through the story of FM Alexander's life. I particularly like the clarity of writing; as an academic his clarity of thought comes through. He also conducted a set of experiments which involved taking multiple-image photographs, usually of himself performing simple movements such as getting up out of a chair. These photographs now look a little outdated; the writing, though, is as relevant as ever. I think this is the book I would recommend you to read after Michael Gelb's "Body Learning".
You may be aware that Alexander teaching splits into 2 broad schools, named after 2 of Alexander's early students, Walter Carrington and Patrick MacDonald. I trained at Walter Carrington's school, The Constructive Teaching Centre. I recently read the only book published by Patrick MacDonald - "The Alexander Technique As I See It" - and I love it. I particularly love the first 37 pages of "notebook jottings" - little scraps of knowledge that Macdonald recorded in his notebooks over years of teaching. For example, the second jotting reads:
"On trying to be right: If your right is wrong, then it follows that any attempt on your part to be right will produce the wrong result. Rather, it is better to be prepared to be wrong. This leaves the way open for real right to take place. FM Alexander: " For God's sake try to be wrong. There is just an outside chance you might be right" ". Wonderful.
I haven't finished the third book yet but I think it is wonderfully written, and not just for
musicians. "The Alexander Technique for Musicians" is by Judith Kleinman and her husband Peter Buckoke, who both teach the Technique at the Royal College of Music. They have written a beautiful book with great photos (mainly, I think, of their two sons) and very accessible language. There is much practical advice here such as sections titled "Don't be too tough on yourself" and "Work on one or two habits at a time". I would highly recommend it.
At the current time I still do not know when we will be able to return to hands-on work - STAT is in regular contact with its members but is currently telling us that we cannot yet return to hands-on. As soon as things change I will be in contact with clients.