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50 Hortense St
Glen Iris, VIC, 3146
Australia

0490 126 293

Practice of Jeremy Woolhouse, pianist and Alexander Technique Teacher in Melbourne, Australia

Specialist in working with musicians, RSI, posture re-education, neck, back and chronic pain management. 

Articles on Alexander Technique in life - by Jeremy Woolhouse

Monthly blog articles by Jeremy Woolhouse.  Alexander Technique for daily life, specialised activities, pain relief and managment.

Fundamental steps in Alexander Technique: ABC

Jeremy Woolhouse

This article presents a simple entry point for beginners to Alexander Technique.  Those with experience will recognise it as a core practice for using the Technique at any level.  Leaving space for customisation, expansion and refinement, let’s start with an ABC: Availability, Buoyancy and Continuity.

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Embodied Training for Instrumental Technique

Jeremy Woolhouse

Instrumental technique may be considered as the interface between concept and sound.  Our technical prowess determines how effectively our ideas flow from imagination, through the instrument, to the listener.  The definitions we create of technique, guide our practice and teaching.  They may be a liberating or limiting factor.  We inevitably acquire a set of judgements around what is appropriate technique, and what is not.

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Semi-supine practice guide

Jeremy Woolhouse

Semi-supine, also known as ‘active rest,’ ’constructive rest,’ or ‘lying on the floor with your head on books,’ is a learning tool and ongoing part of practising Alexander Technique.  Semi-supine gives a framework for positive movement towards ease and comfort. This guide is intended to support independent practice.

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Positive posture at the piano

Jeremy Woolhouse

Piano instruction books often depict ‘the right posture for playing piano.’  They may illustrate a pianist with a straight back, feet on the floor, and forearms parallel to the floor.  There are advantages and disadvantages to presenting images like this.  If a student were to hold this position, the holding may become very limiting for piano technique, not to mention tiring!  Through an investigation into positive poise, we can explore some principles of coordination for playing.

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Considerations in position of the piano stool

Jeremy Woolhouse

When asked about school chairs, FM Alexander is quoted as saying “We need to educate our children, not our furniture.”  The same can be said about the piano stool - it is far more profound and fundamental to learn to change one’s coordination than to learn where to put one’s stool.  The former also informs the latter.  We can look to Alexander Technique not for a prescribed position of piano stool, but for principles which can guide our decision making.

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From pain to proficiency playing piano

Jeremy Woolhouse

Moving from pain management and prevention of injury, to confidence, technical and musical proficiency at the piano.

Of all the instruments, piano may appear to have a most straightforward ergonomic. The pianist doesn’t have to hold the instrument, control breathing, deal with major symmetry challenges or contort for fingering. In spite of this, the rate of pain reported by pianists is high. Wrist pain, hand or forearm tension, tendinitis, carpal tunnel, frozen shoulder and back pain are commonly experienced by pianists.

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Clinical Research going into detail on how Alexander Technique works

Jeremy Woolhouse

The May 2018 edition of Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice presents a qualitative study of the 2015 clinical trial of Alexander Technique and Acupuncture.  While previous publications have dealt with the quantitative results, this study analyses the participants’ experiences and investigates how the modalities attained positive results.

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A pianist in pain - a revolution through Alexander Technique

Jeremy Woolhouse

A nineteen year old aspiring to become a professional pianist, got to the stage where he’d be writhing on the floor from back pain after playing for fifteen minutes.  Three Alexander Technique lessons gave sufficient perspective to manage the crippling back pain.  This is the story of how I came to Alexander Technique and the fundamental learning of my first three lessons.

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Constructive thinking in performance

Jeremy Woolhouse

A fine balance is required in the performing arts.  Attention must be divided among essential specifics, and simultaneously be united towards coordinated performance.  Too much attention on one aspect is as disastrous as too little.  

When musicians perform, we consciously initiate certain aspects of coordination and action.  Many more processes are managed outside of our consciousness.  Some, we can learn to become aware of, and we may learn to directly modify these.

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Open letter to the minister of health

Jeremy Woolhouse

Currently, Australians with private health insurance are (subject to the particulars of their policy) able to claim a rebate for Alexander Technique lessons.  The Australian Federal Government has recently conducted a review of health fund inclusions.  It intends to place restrictions on what modalities private health funds may rebate and proposes to exclude Alexander Technique from April 1st, 2019.  The letter below is an appeal to the Minister for Health not to ignore the solid clinical support for Alexander Technique.

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Mindfulness, Zen Meditation and Alexander Technique

Jeremy Woolhouse

When we practice Alexander Technique, we are being mindful. Since ‘mindful’ means different things to different people, it is worth considering just what kind of attention Alexander Technique is calling for.  There is a parallel with some streams of mediation practice.  Learning from Zen traditions, we can use FM Alexander’s principles to refine a healthy mindful attitude. 

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I’m finding that I’m wrong all the time

Jeremy Woolhouse

In early Alexander Technique lessons, students are sometime frustrated to suddenly realise they persistently use excess tension or scrunch themselves up in daily activities.  Upon hearing this, I offer my congratulations.  It is a significant step forward as it indicates the student has acquired  recognition, a positive step in making change.  To discover you are wrong is to have learnt something.  

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The core of Alexander Technique: Primary Control

Jeremy Woolhouse

In using Alexander Technique, one core principle is considered primary.  The process of coordinating the head-spine relationship is essential to all other motion.  The effective use of Alexander Technique pivots around how skilfully one can engage this coordination.

 

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Alexander Technique and RSI

Jeremy Woolhouse

Musicians and computer users are at the top of the list for Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI).  
Alexander Technique’s unique approaches make it a powerful tool in prevention and management of RSI symptoms.  poise and action in accord with Alexander Technique principles promotes long term resolution of underlying causes of strain.

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Checking in

Jeremy Woolhouse

Inevitably, students of Alexander Technique become aware of previously unrecognised habitual tensions.  When interference with easeful movement or balance of tone is recognised, change for the better can be initiated.  It may be tempting to perceive practice of Alexander Technique as based on looking for excess tension, then removing it.  This potentially limiting view calls for an evaluation of process in using The Technique.

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Thinking Hard vs. Thinking Easy

Jeremy Woolhouse

For most of us, concentration is associated with tightening.  When we see someone working and tightening - especially in the face - we may perceive this as concentration.  It has been proposed that every thought leads to muscular action, but there is no prerequisite for this to manifest in a way which contradicts ease.

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Getting Perspective

Jeremy Woolhouse

“Get job done at any expense” is a modus operandi we’re probably all familiar with.  Persistence of this attitude, the cost to ourselves wears us down.  An upgrade to “Get job done without compromise to self” infinitely improves outcomes.  Staying true to the principles of Alexander Technique transcends even this, and proposes a third paradigm.

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Accumulation of small change

Jeremy Woolhouse

At the end of an Alexander Technique lesson, students may comment on a sense of lightness or ease and a mild bewilderment at how it came about.  There are few instantaneous dramatic changes in sessions.  The profound outcome comes about through an accumulation of small change.  Understanding this, gives an insight into how Alexander Technique achieves what it does, and how one can practice with efficiency.

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When does 'good enough' happen?

Jeremy Woolhouse

Looking to the root of stress, one common theme is that of not being good enough. Musicians might recognise this in the form of ‘not doing enough practice’.  Alexander Technique identifies the struggle which arises and introduces practices which dissolve the context for such judgement.

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Sleep Well

Jeremy Woolhouse

Alexander Technique process is centred around thought.  Whilst we are asleep, most of us have no conscious voluntary thought, so the way Alexander Technique might influence the quality of sleep is indirect.  Many students comment on improvements in sleep associated with lessons, so it is worthwhile considering just how we can change sleep habits.

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