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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.

Automation of Alexander Technique

Jeremy Woolhouse

All students of Alexander Technique arrive with an acknowledgement of scope for improvements in their life.  It may be a pain one has, or a recognition of falling short of potential which is the catalyst to study.  After a period of study, this initial motivation usually becomes fulfilled.  Students may feel content to discontinue lessons.  If the principles have been fully embodied, the student at this time is asking: “what now?”

If the new way of using oneself has become automatic, this may seem like a great achievement.  Once can forget about coordination and do something constructive.  The student who has studied Alexander Technique has many of these moments - where activity has such lightness ad ease as to seem like tasks ‘do themselves’.  

If the student is fortunate, this will be sustained, however it is left up to chance.  If the new use of the self is habituated (another word for ‘automatic’), then the student has simply substituted a poor habit for a better one.  Inarguably this is an improvement, but is does not adhere to the principles of The Technique.

I want for my students to be free of all habit, and to be on a perpetually upward direction.  It may seem like a big ask; to suppose that every student should spend the rest of their life examining the way the move and sending directions.  Once we are exposed to our potential, it is unfortunately very hard to ignore it.

The child may be upset at the prospect of brushing her teeth for the rest of her life.  But as an adult, she knows that she really would rather go to bed with cleaned teeth, than to leave them unbrushed.  So it is with Alexander Technique.  When used effectively, it becomes not a chore, but something one chooses to engage in as a preference.

To conclude lessons is appropriate when one reaches a maturity.  When the child brushes her own teeth out of choice, she no longer needs to be told.  In Alexander Technique, the analogous maturity is not when the pupil can direct him or herself into better coordination and then go on and do some activity.  What now?  The Technique becomes inseparable from the activity.  To do activity is to direct oneself.

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