Private Lessons or Group Classes? Why not both?

Working with  my colleague, Dan Cayer

Working with  my colleague, Dan Cayer

People frequently ask me which is a better way to study? Private lessons or group classes?

While private lessons are more common, and offer certain advantages, group learning dates back to Alexander's first Teacher Training Course, started in the 1930s.

I will be teaching ACAT's Winter 2018 6-Session Group Class Series starting on Monday, January 15. You can register just for classes, or opt for a private lesson along with the series.

I have many students who have studied in both formats, often concurrently. Here are some of the benefits of each:

Private Lessons:

  1. Lesson content is customized for my student's learning style and needs.
  2. The intervention from hands on work is more concentrated and helps the student access and learn how to maintain the postural and behavioral changes that are taught in Alexander lessons. 
  3. Students can ask as many questions, and explore concepts as deeply as they want and need with the teacher's full attention.
  4. The benefits of hands-on in the tablework is maximized.
  5. For those who are self-conscious in groups, private work can put them more at ease.

Group Classes

  1. Students may gain autonomy and understand how to explore on their own since while in the structured environment of a group, they spend more time without direct supervision and can experiment, learning by trial and error.
  2. Hearing other people's questions or observations can enhance understanding and learning.
  3. Watching other people changing with hands-on can help a student understand how the skills of the Alexander Technique make it possible to access change on your own.
  4. Students may become proficient more quickly without relying on the teacher's hands.
  5. Group classes tend to be more economically priced than private lessons.

Some caveats:

  1. If you have an acute or chronic pain condition, or are in a lot of discomfort, private lessons can help you address things more quickly, as tolerating great discomfort could make group classes a zero sum experience.
  2. If you want to apply the technique to a specialized skill, it may be far more efficient to study privately.
  3. If you prefer group dynamics and learning through observation, group classes could be better suited to your learning style.
  4. You can try both to discover the benefits of each, and opt for one or the other at different times, depending on your needs and interests.