Depending on a student’s condition, needs, goals and learning style, the frequency of a lesson may vary. Most students have a weekly session - sometimes other options are preferable.
A lesson stimulates a change in habitual behaviour. After a change made in a session, there is a natural reversion to the more familiar pattern afterwards. The degree and speed of this reversion will depend on how the pupil’s body sustains the change. It also is affected by how the pupil engages with the practice of Alexander Technique to maintain an improved coordination.
More frequent sessions reinforce the change and curtail the reinforcement of habit.
When FM Alexander was teaching his technique, he insisted students attend daily. A great momentum can be initiated and change is rapid.
With two sessions in one week, there is minimal reversion to habit. This semi-intensive attendance offers great support for students who are facing significant pain.
The most common pattern of attending weekly is a balance between the support of the session with the teacher and the self directed study on one’s own. Usually the sensation of change achieved in a lesson fades after a few days, leaving the student with the rest of the week to practice independently acquiring positive poise.
When one’s main interest in Alexander Technique is management of acute pain, or making a change in a pattern of use, continuity is very important. Students tend to learn quicker and achieve greater change with regular input from the teacher.
In this paradigm, it may be preferable to consider a series of sessions and then a break rather than frequency less than weekly. For example if one were to attend 5 sessions over 10 weeks, it may be best to have the sessions consecutive weeks, then take a break.
Fortnightly or less
With attendance less than weekly, the student will need to be keenly exploring on his or her own to maintain what has been learnt, and initiate progress individually. This is usually most appropriate for pupils who have accumulated enough experience to understand how to practice independently.
After attending a series of sessions and experiencing some profound change, some student’s interest in lessons becomes less about initiating change, and more about sustaining change. With less than weekly input, the teacher’s consultation may be seen as supporting the maintenance of improved coordination. There student will continue to refine a practice of Alexander Technique, and continue to strengthen independence.
Lessons once a month or so rely on the student to be continuing to explore and investigate manner of use independently. The teacher is intending to make himself or herself redundant. When the pupil has attained a strong independence, the occasional session is a chance to check in or perhaps initiate some new avenues of application.
Processing the lesson
There is sometimes a sense that one needs to ‘process’ change which happens in a session. This may be beneficial, but that depends on what the manner of ‘processing’ is. If one is seeking to fully understand one aspect of Alexander Technique before proceeding with more input, this will inevitably lead to frustration.
No one aspect can function effectively without the whole and the teacher’s input will invariably support the embodiment of the practice.
Progress is never linear, an attempt to make is so is destined to fail. The confusion which arises in the process of learning often dissolves as one proceeds. It does not need to be addressed prior to proceeding.
Once one has reached a comfortable independence with Alexander Technique, occasional sessions are a preventative for unwittingly developing poor habits. They can give a perspective on pupil’s independent practice and fine tune further endeavour. Long time students may also return to sessions at a more intensive level to drive development or to address specific issues as they arise.
Working with another person, especially one of greater skill or experience, will always take one further than what one can achieve alone. Each session helps to refresh and re-inspire practice supporting sustained ease and comfort.
See also related article: Phases of Alexander Technique
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