Refining Your Instrument Through Alexander Technique
What is Alexander Technique? And really, do we need yet another method to understand ourselves or how we are living?
If you took piano lessons as a child, you probably went through the experience of having good teachers, those you clicked with, and bad teachers, those who were not the right fit. Piano lessons are expected to be set up one-on-one so students get the most benefit from them. Also, they understandably require the presence of a piano for the student to practice and play on. And if you were asked to pinpoint the most important sense used in these lessons, you would answer the auditory sense. Other senses are involved—you still use your eyes in a piano lesson—but the dominant sense you need is hearing.
When it comes to Alexander Technique, the same criteria apply. There are teachers with whom you will connect, and so you will learn better, and other teachers, even though they work with the same principles, may not be the right fit. Alexander Technique is learned best through private lessons, and the instrument has to be present with you.
But what is the instrument? You’re probably thinking, It’s your body, right?
That is part of it. Realistically, the body cannot be separated from the mind; this fact is becoming more commonly accepted nowadays. In Alexander Technique, the instrument is you as a whole, with the kinesthetic sense being the primary focus of learning.
Here is where Alexander Technique gets misunderstood. If you come to your lesson with a dull kinesthetic sense (which is expected, by the way), what will happen is that even though your teacher might see and sense your kinesthetic patterns, you will probably be ignorant of what is going on with you and inside you.
Susan Sinclair, who teaches Alexander Technique in Toronto, repeatedly says, “Muscular tension masks sensation.” If you are accustomed to being tense in your movements, it is unlikely that you will feel any significant difference in your initial lessons. Worse, if you are taking a group class in Alexander Technique, it is even more unlikely that you will notice any difference at all. As a result, you might dismiss the method itself, when what is required is patience and time.
Alexander Technique is unique in its focus on the kinesthetic sense and in its learning process. For those who are willing to open up to what is happening inside them kinesthetically, Alexander Technique provides an accurate tool to sense where they are at present, and it also provides tools to make changes that will bring them back to ease, effortlessness and freedom of movement.
This method does not have to only be geared toward performers and musicians. Anyone and everyone needs to refine his or her kinesthetic sense—a skillful presence that will open the door to joyful learning of the heart’s desire, whether it be cooking, drawing, exercising or simply walking. With Alexander Technique, you can do whatever you are doing, better.
Mona Al-Kazemi, M.Ed., Member of American Society for the Alexander Technique, is cofounder of Think AT, a new business in Battery Park City dedicated to teaching Alexander Technique, mainly through individual lessons. The name is inspired by the technique’s focus on thinking, which affects the way we live, including whether we move with patterns of tension or ease. Teachers at Think AT have more than 12 years of training. For more information, call 646-632-5181 or visit Think-AT.com.