The Alexander Technique The Washington Center Testimonials Teacher-Training Program Marian Goldberg Center Publications Workshops Ergonomics and AT Musicians and AT
What happens in a lesson?
Alexander Technique lessons focus on the individual student learning and applying the Principles of the Technique in ways that are most beneficial for him/her. This consists largely of kinesthetic or neuromuscular learning, which is provided by the teacher's gentle hands-on guidance of the student through fundamental movement patterns. Frequent repetition of this guidance during lessons provides the student with the opportunity to move more naturally and easily---without the interference of long-held habits of inefficient coordination and excess tension. The student's system as a whole learns from these new experiences, which allows for in-depth improvements in his or her movement, postural, and breathing habits. Verbal instruction in the principles of the Alexander Technique accompanies the direct neuromuscular re-learning, teaching the student to apply his/her own thinking to participate actively in the learning process. Through practicing the principles of the Alexander Technique, the student learns to change his/her habits, allowing for healthier and more reasoned responses to stress, and more natural, comfortable, and efficient movement, breathing, and posture.
What are the benefits?
Benefits of this learning process can include freer and more comfortable movement, relief from chronic pain and excess tension, improved posture and alignment, easier and healthier breathing, increased energy and strength, and, most importantly, the development of skills that can be used to change habits that interfere with optimal functioning, including habits that cause undue stress. The fundamental improvement in the reliability of sensory appreciation and awareness that occurs with Alexander Technique lessons can have positive, significant effects on a wide range of behaviors and skills, including the ability to learn. The Technique is also used by performing artists to enhance performing techniques.
How can I find out more about the Technique?
For the person who is considering learning the Alexander Technique, having one or two introductory private lessons is usually the best way to find out if the Technique is something he or she would like to learn. For information on taking introductory lessons, please contact the Alexander Technique Center, email@example.com.
More information on the Technique, including articles and links, is also available at the Center's website, the Insider's Guide to the Alexander Technique.
How many lessons?
An Alexander Technique student learns to change tension habits that have been built up over a course of a lifetime. Private lessons focus on the individual student learning and applying the Principles of the Technique in ways that are most effective and beneficial for him/her. The number of lessons a student may choose to take can be based on several factors, including his or her individual conditions, rate of progress, and the particular improvements he or she may be seeking.
F. M. Alexander, the creator of the Alexander Technique, generally recommended that students take at least thirty private lessons. While most students experience significant improvements with fewer lessons, a series of thirty lessons provides students with the best opportunity to make very substantial and lasting positive changes in deep-rooted tension habits. A series also provides students with the instruction and time needed to learn the Principles of the Technique well enough to continue to progress on their own after they stop taking lessons.
A prospective student usually takes an introductory lesson(s), and then decides if he/she would like to continue taking lessons. It's recommended that new students take lessons at least one or more times a week. Generally, it's better to have lessons one or more times a week than to have lessons less frequently over a longer period of time.
For people who are unable to take lessons on a regular basis, a series of lessons can be taken in smaller sets. For example, a person may take a set of three to five lessons and then have another set of three to five lessons several weeks or months later. Between sets of lessons, the student can use what he/she has learned to help maintain improvement and awareness.
Can I learn the Technique by taking group classes instead of taking private lessons?
Classes and workshops can serve as a limited introduction to the Technique and can offer some helpful hints. However, since classes and workshops attempt to teach the Alexander Technique in a group setting, there are some obvious basic problems with them: they lack sufficient experience in the hands-on guidance integral to learning the Technique and at best they offer a cursory presentation of the Technique.
Although F. M. Alexander did briefly try at one point early in his teaching career to teach the Technique to a group class, he apparently did not find this effective, particularly in comparison to private lessons that focus on each individual's unique habits and use. Despite that Alexander greatly enjoyed and had considerable success with speaking and performing to groups as an actor and reciter, he chose to teach his Technique on an individual basis through private lessons throughout the almost 60 years he taught his Technique. The only other exceptions to this were small classes with people who already had a considerable number of private lessons: his teacher-training course and, for a few years, a small class for children. F. M. Alexander also wrote in his books about the problems people have with the dynamics of what today could be called "group think." This is very likely another reason he emphasized learning the Technique on an individual basis through private lessons.
Does it help to combine the Alexander Technique with other methods or therapies?
Occasionally, there are attempts to teach the Alexander Technique in combination with various therapeutic, movement, or other kinds of methods. One of the problems with this is that these methods and disciplines are generally based on very different paradigms from the Alexander Technique. Combining the Technique directly (particularly in the same lesson/session) with massage, exercise methods, physical therapy, etc. generally results in diluted versions of the Alexander Technique that lack the Technique's fundamentals and may even contradict them.
To gain the wonderful benefits that learning the Alexander Technique can provide, it's important to learn it from a fully-qualified teacher. Fully-qualified Alexander Technique teachers have completed a unique training process in the Technique that requires completion of a full-time (daily), three-year teacher-training program.
Are the lessons about learning exercises? Is the Alexander Technique similar to Yoga, Pilates, T'ai Chi, or Qi Gong?
No, but the Alexander Technique can be very helpful in improving the performance of exercises and movements. The Technique provides the student with the means to change habitual, stressful and malcoordinated responses to stimuli. Practicing the Alexander Technique allows for healthier responses. The resulting improvements in coordination and sensory awareness provide an improved foundation for practicing various exercise methods and fitness programs.
Marian Goldberg maintains a private teaching practice and is the Director of the Alexander Technique Center of Washington's Teacher-Training Program. Marian began studying the Alexander Technique in 1978. After a working with a variety of interpretations of the Alexander Technique from 1978 to 1980, she went on to study with Joan and Alexander Murray at the Urbana Center for the Alexander Technique in 1981. Marian is a fully-qualified teacher of the Alexander Technique, having completed the full-time (daily), three-year teacher-training program and two years of advanced training with the Murrays. She has been teaching the Technique since 1983 and is certified by both the Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique (STAT), UK, and the American Society for the Alexander Technique (AmSAT). Marian has also studied with teachers trained by F. Matthias Alexander. She has taught classes and workshops in the Technique for colleges and universities and for a number of organizations, including the United States Marine Band, the Green Festival and the Why Me? Foundation. Her articles have appeared in several publications, including The Alternative Health Sourcebook and Natural Awakenings magazine. Marian has developed several web sites: "The Insider's Guide to the Alexander Technique," "John Dewey and the Alexander Technique" and "The Alexander Technique for Musicians." She is the editor of Beginning from the Beginning: A Conversation with Joan and Alexander Murray. Marian has also been certified as a Feldenkrais® Practitioner and has trained in Cranio-Sacral Therapy.
The Alexander Technique Center is located in McLean, Virginia, within ten minutes drive of Tysons Corner, Chain Bridge (Washington, DC), the City of Falls Church, Arlington, and the Maryland suburbs (American Legion Bridge/495), 15 minutes from Key Bridge (Washington, D.C.), Reston and Vienna, Virginia, and 25 minutes or less from Bethesda, Chevy Chase, and Rockville, Maryland, and the cities of Fairfax and Alexandria in Northern Virginia.
Scheduling Lessons and More Information
To schedule a lesson, and/or for more information, contact the Alexander Technique Center, firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to have information sent to you via snail-mail, please include your name and address.
© 2004, 2007 Marian Goldberg
The Insider's Guide to the Alexander Technique
Web site maintained by Marian Goldberg
Alexander Technique Center of Washington