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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, music performance, specialised activities, pain relief and management.

Alexander Technique on your own: Beyond the lesson

Jeremy Woolhouse

Through a series of lessons you have made some significant changes and developed some understanding and skill in Alexander Technique.  Here are some ideas of how you can continue to maintain and improve on your Use of the Self. 

Dedicated time.

Put aside a regular period of the day to connect with Alexander Technique.  If not daily, at least if it is weekly, there will be some reminder of your intention to maintain what you have learnt.

Many students give themselves time each day to do 10 minutes of Semi-Supine (lying on the floor with your head on books).  This practice is discussed in this document.  However, it doesn’t need to be lying down.  You might just sit in your office chair for 5 minutes when returning from lunch making observations of yourself and sending directions - just like we’ve often done in lessons.  A walk each mooring could also be a time to work on yourself.

The key here is that the primary motivation for your time is to engage in Alexander Technique.  It’s like giving yourself a little lesson.  If time is an issue, use a kitchen timer (or your smartphone) to dedicate even just one minute of the day.  You will find if you are regular, your memory of sessions is maintained.

Make a trivial task a meaningful one.

In addition to (or at a pinch, in place of) dedicated time,  you can choose to make some unimportant task a place for you to improve your co-ordination.  It may be the walk to the tram stop, the drive home after dropping the kids, the dinner dishes or the supermarket cue.  A time when there is no great demand for your attention is a opportunity for improving your use.  Add some quality to your intention so it transcends the mundane - so it’s not just that you brush your teeth, but you brush your teeth and improve you use.

Consistency is important here.  If it is EVERY time you brush your teeth that you give yourself the little Alexander Technique lesson, then remembering to use the Alexander Technique becomes as easy as remembering to brush your teeth.

Use Alexander Technique when you really care.

When I play piano, I care about the sound I produce.  I know from experience the best sounds come when I’m engaging with Alexander Technique, so I make and effort to use it whenever I play the piano.  Playing at home I don’t have as much care as on stage, but this is something I’m working on.  Ideally, there would be no difference.  

If I find myself in a situation of conflict, this is also a time when I care about how I react and respond.  So I make an effort to engage in the technique.  The more concerned I am about an outcome, the more important it is for me to take care as the potential for “end-gaining” and abusing myself goes up.

Similarly, when I have a strenuous “physical” task - like moving bookshelves, the potential for me injuring myself is high, so because I care about my health, again, I make a concerted effort to engage the technique.

Of course the times when we think there is no time or possibility of using the technique are the very times when it would be the most beneficial to us.  So what I’m asking in this last section is profoundly more challenging than in the previous!

You may also find reading about the technique helps continue to keep your interest and intentions.  Here is a list of books you could use, or there is always the internet.  There are a number of forums where Alexander Technique is discussed.  Most I’ve see are centred around teaching discussions.  Don’t let that discourage you since essentially what you are endeavouring to do is to continue to teach yourself!

Use your observations of yourself and others to help reinforce what you have discovered.  Try different types of thinking in activities and see what happens.  Allow yourself to be wrong - you’ll learn this way!

Finally, do feel free to drop in for a casual lesson.  Even a short lesson can give you the power-up to regain lost momentum.

I’m very interested to hear if anyone has further inspirations or experiences on how you’ve kept the work fresh without retuning for lessons.

Good luck!

Image: Ambro -

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