Continuing Community at ACAT

WorkshopImageA_03by Karen Krueger In my last blog post, I wrote about why I chose to enroll in the teacher training program at the American Center for the Alexander Technique ("ACAT"), and described the unique strengths of the program. Graduating from that program was a bittersweet moment for me, as it seemed I would lose my connection to the community that I was a part of as a trainee.

Luckily, as I soon discovered, ACAT gives its graduates many ways to remain part of the community. To begin with, there is the opportunity to serve as a volunteer faculty member. This meant that I could continue to participate in the training course at a level appropriate to my experience. Working with trainees was an ideal way to hone my hands-on skills, as ACAT trainees are expert at giving constructive verbal and nonverbal feedback. Participating in a training class also allowed me to observe and experience what the trainers were teaching, and to contribute with questions and observations from my own growing teaching practice.

In addition, I learned that ACAT is not just a training program. It is a not-for-profit membership organization, offering free and paid continuing education programs for teaching members and free and paid programming in the Alexander Technique for associate members and the general public. A majority of ACAT's Board of Directors are ACAT graduates.

ACAT teaching members offer monthly free introductions to the Alexander Technique. Volunteering to present or assist in these "Hands-On Demonstrations" is a great way for recent graduates to get valuable experience working with groups on the Alexander Technique. ACAT also sponsors low-cost drop-in group classes in the Alexander Technique, staffed by teaching members who have been active volunteers at the Hands-On Demonstrations.

In addition to these formal connections, ACAT graduates have their own more spontaneous ways of nurturing the ACAT community. Many of the people I trained with remain friends, have exchanges with each other to work on their skills, and refer students to each other. As I become a more experienced teacher, I find that my most valued form of continuing education is exchanging work with the ACAT people I met during my three years in the training course.

If you love the Alexander Technique, you can be a part of the ACAT community, even if you did not graduate from ACAT, by joining as a teaching member (if you are an AmSAT-certified teacher) or an associate member.

To learn more about the benefits of membership, go here.

To learn more about ACAT's teacher training program, go here.

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://www.acatnyc.org/main/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/karen-headshot-67.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]KAREN G. KRUEGER became a teacher of the Alexander Technique after 25 years of practicing law at two major New York law firms, receiving her teaching certificate from the American Center for the Alexander Technique in December 2010. Her students include lawyers, business executives, IT professionals and others interested in living with greater ease and skill. Find her at her website: http://kgk-llc.com. [/author_info] [/author]

From Our ACAT Faculty: My First Contact With The Alexander Technique, by Marta Curbelo

Marta.Curbeloby Marta Curbelo I always loved movement and dance. I became a “star” in my brand new elementary school when I danced in front of my father’s Latin band at a school assembly. As a stay-at-home mom, I missed dance. When Nicole was eight, I decided to get active again: I joined The Nickolaus Technique exercise classes. After a few years of taking classes, I became an instructor and gave classes. One of the franchise owners was training at ACAT and asked me to volunteer as his student. At the time, I was about to buy a Nickolaus franchise. After volunteering at ACAT and experiencing a lightness I had never before felt, I started The Alexander Technique lessons with Sarnie Ogus and my life changed. Forget about the Nickolaus franchise, this was for me. My then-husband was going to be assigned to London and I knew I could find a home in England with The Alexander Technique. We never made it to London, but I have been able to teach The Alexander Technique wherever I found myself: New York City, Stamford CT or Santa Fe NM; even being invited to give annual workshops in Italy and Switzerland over a six-year period.

I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis a few years after graduating in 1987 from ACAT. At the time, I had a private practice in Stamford and was an assistant ACAT faculty member. My symptoms were (and are) fatigue and paresthesia, or nerve-ending pain, and spasticity on my left side. I found early on that I could quiet my nervous system by applying the principles of The Alexander Technique. This has enabled me to minimize the debilitating effects of the disease. I am in the process of working with my neurologist on a case study to show the potential of using The Alexander Technique in the management of MS symptoms.

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://www.acatnyc.org/main/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Marta.Curbelo.png[/author_image] [author_info] MARTA CURBELO was certified by ACAT to teach The Alexander Technique in 1987, immediately volunteered as an assistant teacher and then became an associate teacher and finally a member of the Senior Faculty in 1989. Marta has taught at The Juilliard School and has had private practices in New York City, Norwalk CT and Santa Fe NM. She has conducted workshops in New York City, Switzerland and Italy and taught in a physical therapy facility in Mt. Kisco, NY.  Marta also has been certified, after a one-year course of study in the Art of Breathing, to teach breathing coordination in conjunction with The Alexander Technique. See her website: MartaCurbelo.com.[/author_info] [/author]

From Our ACAT Faculty: My First Contact With The Alexander Technique, by Brooke Lieb

Brooke headshotsby Brooke Lieb I first heard about the Alexander Technique when I was researching theater training. Alexander was part of the curriculum at The Juilliard School, Carnegie Mellon University, ACT in San Francisco, and many of the acting programs in London. I was planning to study for theater as an undergraduate, though I honestly didn't think I had the talent or constitution to manage the business side of the profession. Since I always liked to communicate through touch, I thought the Alexander Technique would be a profession that would place me within the performing arts world as a teacher, without dealing with the stress and rejection of auditioning and relying on being the right type to get to practice my craft as an actor. I knew on some level that I was going to train to teach the Alexander Technique even before I had a lesson.

I was 20 when I took my first lesson, with Nancy Wanich Romita during her last term of her teacher training at ACAT, on the campus of SUNY Purchase. After that first lesson, floating out of the dance building, I remember how excited I was having finally experienced the work that I had intuitively known was my life's work! It was more amazing then I could have imagined. I studied privately for 4 years, and had over 120 lessons at the time I applied to train at ACAT. I was on the course from 1987-1989, and feel so fortunate that I found my life's work so early. I also feel fortunate that I have had this work as part of my life resources since such a young age. I continue to learn and grow as both a student and a teacher. My enthusiasm and passion for the work has only deepened with time.

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://www.acatnyc.org/main/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Brooke1web.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]N. BROOKE LIEB, Director of Teacher Certification since 2008, received her certification from ACAT in 1989, joined the faculty in 1992. Brooke has presented to 100s of people at numerous conferences, has taught at C. W. Post College, St. Rose College, Kutztown University, Pace University, The Actors Institute, The National Theatre Conservatory at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Dennison University, and Wagner College; and has made presentations for the Hospital for Special Surgery, the Scoliosis Foundation, and the Arthritis Foundation; Mercy College and Touro College, Departments of Physical Therapy; and Northern Westchester Hospital. Brooke maintains a teaching practice in NYC, specializing in working with people dealing with pain, back injuries and scoliosis; and performing artists. www.brookelieb.com[/author_info] [/author]

From Our ACAT Faculty: My First Contact With The Alexander Technique, by Daniel Singer

Daniel-Singerby Daniel Singer As a young man in my 20’s and well out of college, I was continuing with the spiritual search I had consciously begun at age 15. So as it happened, I found myself living in upstate New York on a rural farm, with a serious group of spiritual seekers. We were studying, in a practical way, the ideas of Gurdjieff. This farm/craft guild was an extraordinarily impactful learning environment, centered around traditional arts like pottery, weaving, woodworking, printing, farming, home-crafts, etc. We were studying the ideas of Gurdjieff; and working at traditional crafts was part of a means we used for self-study. I myself became a glassblower artisan there, and made this community my home for 6 years.

While I was living there, a group of musicians visited us from Minnesota. They were from the orchestra in St. Paul. As it happened, their Alexander teacher, Goddard Binkley, (who had been trained by F.M. Alexander), had been invited by one of their group to visit us. And so, when he visited we all received a single private lesson with Goddard.

My half-hour lesson with Goddard was a very simple, no-frills chair session. The only procedure besides sitting and standing was a formal lunge. Although it was my first lesson, (and I hadn’t a clue about the AT or what was expected of me as a student taking a lesson) few words were exchanged and, strangely, nothing at the time felt like it actually needed an explanation. I recall the education in that lesson felt sufficiently implied through the intention of Goddard’s touch, directly impacting my kinesthetic sense. Looking back on it now, it is quite easy for me to argue against adopting such a model/strategy for teaching a “first lesson.” His choice to not explain anything was a curious and radical choice. I speculate that his view might have been: “If my student is leaving themselves alone sufficiently to receive new kinesthetic data from my hands and not fall back into their old pattern of thinking, this new student’s nervous system will sufficiently interpret and use the new data, even in a first lesson.” Again, it seems like a less than optimal model for most first lessons, in my current view. Yet, in Goddard’s defense, it might be useful to note that the residents of this community were all rigorously focused on mindfulness, a living relationship to silence and contemplative inquiry. We were all studying together, as a group, the axiom "Know Thyself.” Therefore, it may be likely that Goddard felt that relative silence in a first lesson was a feasible strategy in the case of these particular first lessons in the Alexander Technique. However, I only speculate.

I recall the feeling of Goddard's hands to this day…inviting, strong and dynamic. They mysteriously sculpted my body and calmed my mind. He guided me into the chair in a totally new way. There was no table work given in that first lesson. When my half-hour lesson was done, I experienced a feeling that was truly unprecedented in my young life experience. It was an epiphany without words and I felt profoundly altered in my sense of self. It was as if I had landed on planet Earth for the first time, a wakeful presence mixed with a lightness of being that had hitherto eluded me. Much to my own surprise, right after walking away from the chair at the end of the lesson I turned to Goddard and said to him, “I know this must sound strange to hear, but someday I am going to teach this work to others.” To this day, I don’t know how I had the chutzpah to say that to him in that way, but I did. And even though it took 5 more years before I actually was able to have another Alexander Technique lesson, this time with Judith Leibowitz, eventually my prediction came to pass and I trained to become a teacher of this work.

As a child, I had been rather sickly, not having sat up until almost 2. As an infant, I couldn’t keep food down so barbiturates had been medically given as a remedy for that. Prone to continuous infections, I had been well-meaningly placed on oral penicillin for 11 years until the doctors decided that medical choice was no longer a smart one. I developed acute asthma and my nervous system became overwhelmed by the “speedy” drugs given for that. I wasn’t reading until after age 7. So there were definitely developmental lags and missing pieces, as well. Yet, through the graces of nature, by the time I was a young man, I had caught up in many areas. But my relationship to organization, self, balance, breath, movement and a normal sense of physicality was still quite challenged.

I feel it was a gift from God that I was guided to my first lesson with Goddard back in 1974. The trajectory of my life was significantly altered during that half-hour with him. And so, today I teach and help train others to study awareness, inhibition and direction through the Alexander Technique as I continue this ever-new investigation into the I-Thou-ness of living.

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://www.acatnyc.org/main/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Daniel-Singer.jpeg[/author_image] [author_info]DANIEL SINGER is a senior faculty member at the American Center for the Alexander Technique Teacher Certification Program. He maintains a private practice in NYC and is currently on staff as the Alexander Technique teacher at three performance Conservatories: AMDA, Circle-in-the Square and Michael Howard Studio. Daniel is an author of the book The Sacred Portable Now (Prima Publishing, 1996). He also co-produced a CD “The Back Alive Advantage” based on principles of Alexander Technique self-lesson work. Additionally trained and certified in educational and therapeutic uses of visualization by the American Institute for Mental Imagery, he’s an artist whose mediums have included glassblowing, painting and writing. And for the last ten years he has joyfully pursued a passion for studying and dancing Argentine Tango. [/author_info] [/author]

From Our ACAT Faculty: My First Contact with the Alexander Technique, by Kim Jessor

k_Jessor_1642by Kim Jessor It was 1977. I had recently graduated from college, and had come to New York to be a dancer. I was living in Soho, taking dance classes, rehearsing and performing in lofts, and living the downtown New York arty life I had dreamed of. But then my knees began to give me trouble. Like F. M. Alexander, the medical world had no answers for me, nothing showed up on an x-ray, rest was advised. I was desperate; the life I had envisioned, the great joy dancing brought me and how much my young identity was tied up in it, seemed to be slipping away from me. At Sarah Lawrence College I had known Missy Vineyard. I knew she had become an Alexander teacher, and I had another dancer friend with knee trouble who was studying with Missy. They were the first people to tell me of this work that would change my life. I don’t remember clearly how I found my way to Jessica Wolf for my first lesson. She was still in her final semester of training. Once I went with her for a supervisory lesson to Judy Liebowitz’s (one of ACAT’s founders) apartment!

While I can no longer recapture the specific details of that lesson, I do remember that I experienced myself in an entirely new way, with this unfamiliar quality of ease and lightness. I left with a renewed sense of hope and possibility. I immediately called Jessica and asked her to meet me for lunch to talk about what training entailed. I told her I wanted to become a teacher of this Technique. She explained to me that I would need to take more lessons in order to apply, which I subsequently did. But I knew right away—this was the work I wanted to do. I was completely compelled by my experience, by the sense that there was a way out of my knee pain, and that the work combined my love of movement with my enjoyment of the process of teaching. I studied with Jessica for awhile, then Andrea Hanson, and in 1979 excitedly entered the ACAT teacher certification program. Many years later, I continue to teach others to become Alexander teachers at ACAT, and still thoroughly love this work.

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://www.acatnyc.org/main/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/k_Jessor_1642.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]KIM JESSOR received her BA from Sarah Lawrence College in 1976, where she danced and choreographed under Bessie Schoenberg. She received her ACAT certification in 1981 and has taught since then on ACAT’s faculty, serving as Director of the Teacher Certification Program from 1991-1994. Kim has taught at the Juilliard School, Mannes College of Music, the Michael Howard Acting Studio, the New York Open Center, the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, the Chautauqua summer music program, Penland School of Crafts, and the Miller Healthcare Institute for Performing Arts Medicine, among others. Kim has written articles on applying the Technique to marathon running and on her work with survivors of 9/11. She has also presented at several national meetings. Currently she is on the faculty at NYU’s Graduate Acting Program/Tisch School of the Arts, while maintaining a private practice in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Kim has done post certification work with Barbara Kent, Pearl Ausubel, Ann Mathews and Rika Cohen. She is also certified in Body-Mind Centering from Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen.[/author_info] [/author]

From Our ACAT Faculty: My First Contact with the Alexander Technique, by Joan Frost

Joan Frostby Joan Frost Due to my mother’s lack of understanding regarding nutrition, as an infant I was fed boiled condensed (pet) milk to grow on. It didn’t work so well. I didn’t get to my feet until 18 months old and when I finally did, my legs buckled so that my knees and ankles caved in. In Ireland, they called this the “green stick syndrome”. I don’t know what they called it in America, but it was not uncommon in the ‘50’s. To remedy this, I had to sleep on my back every night wearing a brace – two shoes turned out 180 degrees from each other with a bar between. This put my legs into a frog position. I wore the brace every night from about 18 months to 3 years old. I have no memory of this time, but I do remember for years going to the doctor for walking exercises to deal with my very pronated ankles.

There was a problem with this mechanistic remedy: I was very pigeon-toed. The brace forced total outward rotation. Since my hip-joints couldn’t structurally accommodate that, where did the adjustment go? To the next level up – my lower back. I became extremely swaybacked. Standing equaled pain.

I must have had a weak back. When I was nine, while on my hands and knees playing with my sister, she jumped on my back and something “went”. It was my upper back. From that time forward, I couldn’t sit unsupported for more than 20 minutes before my back became hot, then numb. I gave up my piano lessons.

I couldn’t stand, I couldn’t sit. Any length of time with either and I was in significant pain. My mother took me to chiropractor after doctor. Nothing helped. I was a stoic girl – I dealt.

In college, typing papers was agony. But when I moved, I felt better. I enrolled in the dance program at the University of California at Santa Cruz and started learning about my body. I discovered my psoas muscle and my lower back lost some of its exaggerated curve. My lower back pain diminished. My upper back? It didn’t change much at all. I was always in pain behind my right shoulder blade and every few weeks it got acute.

I graduated from college and moved to New York City to immerse myself in the modern dance scene. A California friend discovered the Alexander Technique and told me I should take some lessons. She said my neck was very forward. I reached back to feel my neck and discovered she was right! I resisted studying, though. Why should I? I could have five dance classes for the price of one of those lessons. She persisted. Finally, after about six months of urging, I agreed. I called Missy Vineyard and made an appointment.

I don’t know what happened in my first lesson. I just remember taking a floor barre class afterwards and not being able to lift my head off the floor. I did return for another lesson. Again, I didn’t understand what was going on, but it seemed as if Missy knew something true about my body that I didn’t yet know. The closest I could liken to my experience was readings I had done in Zen and eastern philosophy.

Not far into the lessons, I started sticking out my elbows. Missy set me straight. I was confusing elbow width with upper back width. Amazingly, my upper back began to change! My pain started to lessen! I had started studying the Technique to keep my friend quiet. It had not occurred to me that it would affect the way I felt. By the time I was in my 20’s, back pain was a fact of my life and I took it for granted that that’s the way it was going to be.

I had ten lessons with Missy, then she moved to Baltimore for her husband’s medical residency. The effects of those lessons lasted about nine months, then I felt I had lost the sense of it. I asked around for and found another teacher and continued my Alexander journey.

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://www.acatnyc.org/main/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Joan-Frost.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Joan Frost was certified to teach the Alexander Technique by ACAT in 1983, joined ACAT’s faculty in 1984, and was Director of Teacher Certification from 2001-2008. Joan has also taught the Technique at The Juilliard School, The New School, the Diller Quaile School of Music, and at Sarah Lawrence College. For years she was a lecturer for The Arthritis Foundation. Currently, in addition to training teachers at ACAT, Joan maintains a private practice in Manhattan, in Rockland County, in White Plains, and in Stratford, Connecticut. Find her at her website: joanfrost.com.[/author_info] [/author]

The Habit of Dissatisfaction

brookeandcatby Brooke Lieb The Alexander Technique teaches a robust tool to recognize and address habits, including movement patterns, posture and muscle tone; and thinking and behavioral habits, as well.

As a child, growing up in the United States, and particularly as a student in American academia, I developed the tendency to respond to my circumstances with dissatisfaction. I was inclined to focus on what needed to be changed or fixed, how to garner or continue to get approval, and to seek distraction from my habitual internal dialogue and attitude towards my life circumstances. This attitude was reinforced by the people around me, by the media, and in particular, by advertisers. I was encouraged, first externally, and then internally, to strive to be better, to look for the next goal, the next success or win in life, the next project, the next task. What can I do next, so I can better myself and get the next toy, reward or show of approval or love from the world around me? And as a woman, what can I do to be more attractive, and thinner?

At the same time, from a very early age, I knew I wanted to experience contentment, satisfaction and joy in my life, and I had a strong inkling that I was going to need to work to overcome my tendencies to find fault and feel unsatisfied. I first saw a therapist at 18 and then began therapy in earnest for 11 years at around 21, with my primary goal being to love the life I am actually living. I began having Alexander lessons at aged 20, so I cannot be sure, but I believe my Alexander lessons contributed to my growing awareness of my emotional habit of being dissatisfied, and gave me skills to change my belief systems and responses to the challenges of life.

Over these last 32 years, having Alexander Technique as the central tool in my life, I feel like I have woken up more each passing year, and with this alert, aware state, I have gained more inner peace, self acceptance, patience for those around me, and an acute awareness of the dynamic of chronic dissatisfaction in myself, mirrored many ways in the world at large. My process has often been painful and hard won, as I grappled with my perfectionist issues, but I believe without the Alexander Technique, I wouldn’t be enjoying the wisdom that comes with age, and feeling so awake to life. I have learned how to enjoy myself more. This awakening is still a work in process.

One of my great pleasures as an Alexander teacher and a trainer of Alexander teachers, has been the honor of helping my students wake up to themselves and their lives, as well. I am inspired by their journeys, and I learn about myself in the process. At this point, work is play for me, and I feel so lucky that I earn my livelihood doing something I love so much.

If any of this resonates for you, I would be delighted to hear from you about your journey around the habit of dissatisfaction.

NOTE: The Alexander Technique is a useful tool as part of your self-care regime, but is not a replacement for consultation with a trained medical profession. It is important that you seek the assistance of a trained medical professional for persistent and on-going physical, emotional or mental symptoms, to rule out and/or address underlying causes.

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://www.acatnyc.org/main/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Brooke1web.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]N. BROOKE LIEB, Director of Teacher Certification since 2008, received her certification from ACAT in 1989, joined the faculty in 1992. Brooke has presented to 100s of people at numerous conferences, has taught at C. W. Post College, St. Rose College, Kutztown University, Pace University, The Actors Institute, The National Theatre Conservatory at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Dennison University, and Wagner College; and has made presentations for the Hospital for Special Surgery, the Scoliosis Foundation, and the Arthritis Foundation; Mercy College and Touro College, Departments of Physical Therapy; and Northern Westchester Hospital. Brooke maintains a teaching practice in NYC, specializing in working with people dealing with pain, back injuries and scoliosis; and performing artists. www.brookelieb.com[/author_info] [/author]

Thinking But Not Doing

Frank Ottiell (1929-2015) by Brooke Lieb

In her wonderful new book, Living The Alexander Technique, Ruth Rootberg interviews senior members of the Alexander community, who have been living with the tools of the Alexander Technique well into their later years. In her interview with Frank Ottiwell (1929 - 2015), who was certified by ACAT founder Judith Leibowitz in 1959, he reflects on his continued development in learning what it is to inhibit and direct. As I was reading, I could especially relate to the following section from the interview.

Frank Ottiwell is quoted:

“I think one of the things one has to learn—and certainly Judy [Leibowitz] was teaching me that right from the beginning—is 'Leave yourself alone.' Practice Inhibition. You learn to say the words, but not to do them. That’s the trick…. I think, too, that my focus has re-directed towards stopping something from happening, rather than being seduced into getting something to happen. With the order to 'free my neck,' for example, it is easy for me to slip into making tiny movements, even without intending to. I think, for a long time, some devil in me tricked me into little direct doings. I’m sure it will try again. I will have to be on the lookout for devils.”

Having been a student of the Alexander Technique for over 32 years myself, I found it reassuring and comforting to know that Frank Ottiwell was still tempted to do something muscular when working with the Alexander Technique after all his years of experience. I, too, am always refining my thinking and working on inhibiting (withholding consent) from my inclination to do something directly with my muscles when my true wish is to “free my neck.”

I think this process of relearning and refining what we are after when we use the Alexander Technique is common for Alexander teachers and students, alike. We live in a world full of triggers, we are habitual creatures, and it seems that as technology advances, we are all trying to accomplish more, not less, and are rushing to get things done. Taking time, and learning the difference between thinking intelligently and using muscle force is vital to manage our energy and tension levels under these circumstances.

One of the main challenges in learning to work with the Alexander Technique is learning not to turn the ideas and instructions from your teacher into a direct muscular action. When I work with a student, I tell her or him: “Listen to my words and think them, allow my hands to guide you to define what those words mean in your movements, but do not use your muscles to directly do your idea of what those words mean.” Easier said than done, but anyone who has been working in this way and had glimpses of what is possible will likely agree, it is very worthwhile.

Buy Ruth Rootberg’s book, Living The Alexander Technique on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Living-Alexander-Technique-Interviews-Teachers/dp/1937146774

Other epub versions are available on Nook, Google Play, and iBook.

You can read Frank Ottiwell’s obituary in the SF Gate here: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/sfgate/obituary.aspx?n=Frank-Ottiwell&pid=175665326

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://www.acatnyc.org/main/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Brooke1web.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]N. BROOKE LIEB, Director of Teacher Certification since 2008, received her certification from ACAT in 1989, joined the faculty in 1992. Brooke has presented to 100s of people at numerous conferences, has taught at C. W. Post College, St. Rose College, Kutztown University, Pace University, The Actors Institute, The National Theatre Conservatory at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Dennison University, and Wagner College; and has made presentations for the Hospital for Special Surgery, the Scoliosis Foundation, and the Arthritis Foundation; Mercy College and Touro College, Departments of Physical Therapy; and Northern Westchester Hospital. Brooke maintains a teaching practice in NYC, specializing in working with people dealing with pain, back injuries and scoliosis; and performing artists. www.brookelieb.com[/author_info] [/author]

Student Abbe Krieger and ACAT's Health and Wellbeing Program

Abbeby Brooke Lieb ACAT’s Health and Wellbeing Program offers experienced students (10 or more lessons) the opportunity to join classes in our World Class Teacher Training Program. The emphasis is on self discovery, self-awareness and learning more efficient ways of applying Alexander concepts to everyday life. The program is ideal for students who wish to take their study to a more advanced level, and for those who are considering training and would like to experience the Training Course environment firsthand.

To learn more and and download an application an brochure, click here, or contact me at “tcp@acatnyc.org”.

BROOKE

Why did you first start studying the Alexander Technique?

ABBE

The first time I started studying the AT was because my flute teacher from Juilliard suggested that it might be useful for my playing. I was a big end gainer; if anything could help me be an even better "fluter," I would do it. Years later, after a long stretch without any AT, I came back to it because I thought that it might be a nice complement to my daily meditation and mindfulness practice.

BROOKE

Why did you decide to participate in the Health and Wellbeing option within ACAT’s Teacher Certification Program, including the option of adding the 10-session private lessons?

ABBE

I love the AT and have been taking privates with a handful of NYC's top teachers for the last several years—sometimes twice a week. Bravos and Bravas to Ann Waxman, Bill Connington, Jean McClelland, Hope Martin, and most recently, to you, Brooke. Also, my very first AT teacher, Judith Muir. Thanks to the care and guidance of these amazing teachers, my desire to become more intimate with the AT has grown significantly. To that end, I came to ACAT to enhance my experience and "understanding" of the AT. Also, I am thinking about training…TBD

BROOKE

What has the experience been like?

ABBE

Studying and learning AT in the context of a full-time AT training program, even just once a week, and as a HWB student, has been transformative. I have become much better acquainted with the mysteries of primary control and I am starting to take my familiar debauched habits less seriously. Also, observing what the students are being taught to "not do" to facilitate length and expansion in another person is fascinating and unbelievably useful to my own use. I love that ultimately it is about learning to take care of yourself first so that you can be of service to another human being. My body is my first instrument.

About Abbe

A recent first prize winner of the Alexander and Buono International Flute competition, Abbe Krieger’s recital performances have included Bechstein Piano Center, Weill Recital Hall and Klavierhaus. As a chamber musician and orchestral player, her appearances have included Avery Fisher Hall, Carnegie Hall, Paul Hall and the Peter Jay Sharp Theater as well as music festivals including Bowdoin, Chautauqua, Tanglewood and Saarburg. Ms. Krieger's musical training includes degrees with honors from The Juilliard School, Carnegie Mellon University and Brandeis University. Ms. Krieger serves as guest teaching artist and soloist with the Florida Gulf Coast Symphony and teaches privately in NYC.

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://www.acatnyc.org/main/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Brooke1web.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]N. BROOKE LIEB, Director of Teacher Certification since 2008, received her certification from ACAT in 1989, joined the faculty in 1992. Brooke has presented to 100s of people at numerous conferences, has taught at C. W. Post College, St. Rose College, Kutztown University, Pace University, The Actors Institute, The National Theatre Conservatory at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Dennison University, and Wagner College; and has made presentations for the Hospital for Special Surgery, the Scoliosis Foundation, and the Arthritis Foundation; Mercy College and Touro College, Departments of Physical Therapy; and Northern Westchester Hospital. Brooke maintains a teaching practice in NYC, specializing in working with people dealing with pain, back injuries and scoliosis; and performing artists. www.brookelieb.com[/author_info] [/author]

Alexander Technique for Non-Surgical Treatment of a Cervical Herniated Disc

by Witold Fitz-Simon This video features Judy Stern—Alexander Technique teacher and faculty member of the ACAT teacher training program—on how the Technique can help people with herniated discs in their neck. The video is made by the medical practice of Seth Neubardt M. D. and Jack Stern M. D. (Dr. Stern is Judy's husband.)

https://youtu.be/P1VSSq9zuUM

If you experience chronic pain and would like to know more about how the Alexander Technique might be able to help you, find a teacher near you here.

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://www.acatnyc.org/main/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/After-crop1.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]WITOLD FITZ-SIMON has been a student of the Alexander Technique since 2007. He is certified to teach the Technique as a graduate of the American Center for the Alexander Technique’s 1,600-hour, three year training program. A student of yoga since 1993 and a teacher of yoga since 2000, Witold combines his extensive knowledge of the body and its use into intelligent and practical instruction designed to help his students free themselves of ineffective and damaging habits of body, mind and being. www.mindbodyandbeing.com[/author_info] [/author]

Seeing More and Letting Go: Widening My Experience through Alexander Technique

Mariel at BarbesBy Mariel Berger [Many thanks to my Alexander Technique teacher, Witold Fitz-Simon, and my Alexander Technique Psychologist, Jane Dorlester]

I used to believe that intense focus and concentration were the best way of being. I would spend hours practicing music, hours focusing on just one little thing. The more the world disappeared around me, the better I was supposed to be. In undergrad music school, I would walk up and down the hallways and see people in their practice spaces, for hours upon hours, directing all of their energy and attention onto one single thing. I learned that individual mastery of one instrument was the way to be. I practiced all of the time.

When I tried to look at the larger world around me, I got easily overwhelmed, scared, sad, anxious, lost, hopeless. So to cope, I would simply zoom in and ignore all the background noise, erase any thought that didn’t pertain to this one single thing. This scale. This piece.

I have realized that my coping mechanism was also what led me into deep bouts of depression, narcissism, self-absorption, and intense crying from feeling a disconnection from the world around me. Then, to alleviate my sadness, I would dive back into music in order to escape, continuing the cycle.

Depression is losing sight of the whole — falling into one mental space that feels as though it always was and always will be.

Depression is only seeing one thing — being trapped in one experience, one repeating and repeating thought.

I spent so many years narrowing my focus that my mind got into the pattern of hard fixation.

When composing music I spent hours deep in my imagination, but then I wouldn’t be able to come out from the intense focus. I mistook this focus for depth, but depth is not narrow. It expands and has breadth. I was digging a tunnel that ended how it began:

[dark]. [blind].

[alone].

For the past two years, I have been practicing Alexander Technique. Through this technique, I have learned about a soft gaze and a light awareness. It has been two years of unlearning the habits of zooming in. It has been two years of expanding out, seeing more.

Yes, I am home inside my body and aware of my sensations, I hear my thoughts, but I am also aware of my surroundings. Just as I feel my feet, I feel my feet touching the ground.

When writing a piece of music, I used to think about it so hard that my brain would hurt from all the grasping, and I would get a headache. Now, I hope to approach art-making as less thinking hard and more softening around an idea. I clear space and watch the tendency of the mind and body to grip; but instead of gripping, I let go. I soften my gaze so I see more than what’s in front of me. I let the subtle colors of the periphery be a part of my expanded experience.

The practice of releasing clenched muscles and obsessive thoughts is starting to help expand my interpersonal relationships. I am learning that there is an easier way of relating to the outside world. Because of various traumas in my childhood I have an intense fear of being abandoned. So I grew up relating to people with an anxious attachment style--clinging to them so they wouldn’t leave me. I also grew up tightening my body in fear of someone potentially hurting me. Through Alexander Technique I have learned that I don’t need to walk around in the world with my body frozen in defense. My torso can widen and deepen, my legs can move away from my pelvis, my knees can move away from my back---I can expand and expand.

I thought I was protecting myself hiding in my tightened and scared body, but I ended up causing myself pain. I developed chronic shoulder and neck pain, headaches, and pelvic pain. I am learning that practicing an open and expansive way of being does not mean that I’ll be more easily hurt by others. Quite the opposite! When my neck is free, head is moving forward and up, torso is widening and deepening, knees are moving forward and away---I am grounded, balanced, fluid--- poised. I am able to go in any direction anytime. So if someone tries to connect with me who isn’t ultimately healthy for me, I can walk away.

The essence of Alexander Technique is the simultaneity of all possibilities-- embracing the whole experience--not being stuck in one position, on one path, one direction, one idea.

I am learning to unfasten my grip on my friends and loved ones. I am also learning that I can’t control people or the world around me. However, maybe I can expand the Alexander Technique directions onto my friends and loved ones? I can look at my mom and wish for her neck to be free and for my sister’s head to move forward and up. Everything about Alexander Technique teaches me to widen, so I can in turn expand Alexander Technique into the world.

Since practicing Alexander Technique (and also with the aid of anti-depressants), I rarely experience bouts of severe depression. In addition, the pain and tension in my body become alleviated each day when I remember my directions: to widen my experience, and to be aware of the space around me-- the world around me. Each day I notice myself gripping and falling into old patterns, and instead,

I let go... I let go...

I let go...

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://www.acatnyc.org/main/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/helsinki-sun-headshot.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]MARIEL BERGER is a composer, pianist, singer, teacher, writer, and activist living in Brooklyn, NY. She currently writes for Tom Tom Magazine which features women drummers, and her personal essays have been featured on the Body Is Not An Apology website. Mariel curates a monthly concert series promoting women, queer, trans, and gender-non-conforming musicians and artists. She gets her biggest inspiration from her young music students who teach her how to be gentle, patient, joyful, and curious. You can hear her music and read her writing at: marielberger.com[/author_info] [/author]

An Introduction to the Alexander Technique: Marjorie Barstow [video]

by Witold Fitz-Simon Senior Alexander Technique teacher Marjorie Bartsow (1899-1995) was a graduate of F. M. Alexander's first teacher training in 1933. Born in the United States, she returned to the US after finishing her training, and eventually settled and established her teaching practice in her home town of Lincoln, Nebraska.

This video from 182 was made when Barstow was 83. In it she talks about her introduction to the Technique and how she came to meet F. M. Alexander.

https://youtu.be/NdrP_XGEuWI

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://www.acatnyc.org/main/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/After-crop1.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]WITOLD FITZ-SIMON has been a student of the Alexander Technique since 2007. He is certified to teach the Technique as a graduate of the American Center for the Alexander Technique’s 1,600-hour, three year training program. A student of yoga since 1993 and a teacher of yoga since 2000, Witold combines his extensive knowledge of the body and its use into intelligent and practical instruction designed to help his students free themselves of ineffective and damaging habits of body, mind and being. <a href="www.mindbodyandbeing.com">www.mindbodyandbeing.com</a>[/author_info] [/author]

 

So You’re An Alexander Teacher? How Come You’re Slumping?

patrick.macdonaldBy Jeffrey Glazer Recently I was watching a video on YouTube about Patrick Macdonald, a prominent first generation teacher of the Alexander Technique. The video portrays his training course in the 1980’s. I love this video, as I always learn something new when I watch it.

I decided to peruse the comments section, and I saw several comments about Macdonald being hunched, and people asking why that is. Since, among other benefits, the Alexander Technique claims to help with one’s posture, it is totally understandable why people would question why such a distinguished teacher appears slumped.

Thinking about it, I recalled a conversation I had with Daniel Singer, one of the Senior Teachers at ACAT (The American Center for the Alexander Technique). Daniel took lessons from Macdonald for many years, and was profoundly influenced by his approach, especially when he started teaching. I remember Daniel explaining how Macdonald was born with some of his vertebrae fused together, and that he had a terrible prognosis from when he was a young child. Daniel also said the following:

“What people see in the older (Macdonald) videos particularly is a bit of a medical miracle. It is uncanny that he was able to manage such a rare, profound and overwhelming condition so effectively due to his Alexander Technique “thinking in activity.”

After clarifying the details on Macdonald, I added the following comment on YouTube…

“Regarding some of the comments about posture and why Macdonald is hunched, I think there is a misunderstanding. At 2:54 in part 1, it mentions that Macdonald had a congenital curvature of the spine, and later in the video (part 2, 6:50), Macdonald says that the technique saved his life. I spoke to an Alexander Teacher who took lessons from Macdonald for many years, and he told me that Macdonald was born with 5 thoracic vertebrae fused together, and he had early onset idiopathic scoliosis, with a strong forward pull as well as a twist. That type of scoliosis is severe and can even be life threatening. Despite Macdonald’s poor prognosis, his Alexander Technique skill and thinking helped enable him to overcome the most harmful effects of his condition, as he miraculously lived so long and vigorously with such a structural condition.

And only as his overall strength declined due to whatever other aging factors appeared to weaken him, did the conditions of his structured stoop (which was imprinted into the structure of his body from birth) become visibly worse. It is likely that the reason Macdonald said the Alexander Technique saved his life is because with his condition one can end up bent over 90 degrees with the face and chest facing the ground, and the result of those pulls can compromise the space needed for organs to function properly. So, while it is true that most Alexander Teachers and experienced students stand upright and have what many would call “good posture”, sometimes there are underlying conditions or other factors that are at play.”

So, here is the moral of the story…

1. Sometimes there are underlying conditions that affect the spine, and consequently, posture. While such conditions can prevent one from fully standing up straight, this does not mean they cannot benefit from the Alexander Technique. Without the Alexander Technique, Macdonald would likely have been hunched over in much more dramatic fashion. Indeed, Marjorie Barstow, another renowned first generation teacher, developed severe osteoporosis later in life, and has many YouTube videos where she is hunched. She also taught into her 90’s, and just like Macdonald was able to so at a high level of energy and vitality.

2. One must be careful not to judge too quickly, whether it is posture, or anything else.

3. The idea of posture as some sort of fixed upright shape is not really adequate. Posture is dynamic, as we are constantly moving about and adapting different positions to do what we need. It is more important to learn to move with less tension and without compressing the spine, so that there is greater ease and coordination in all activities.

4. In addition to being about movement, the Alexander Technique cultivates a high level of awareness around one’s thinking and reaction patterns. This results in the ability to think more clearly and respond more constructively to whatever one is doing. When we learn to slow down, it can also help to calm the nervous system, which, in today’s society, is a much needed component of overall health.

Finally, here are links to the Macdonald video, which is broken up into two parts:

Part 1

Part 2

Watch, learn, and enjoy!

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://www.acatnyc.org/main/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/jeffrey.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]JEFFREY GLAZER is a certified teacher of the Alexander Technique. He found the Alexander Technique in 2008 after an exhaustive search for relief from chronic pain in his arms and neck. Long hours at the computer had made his pain debilitating, and he was forced to leave his job in finance. The remarkable results he achieved in managing and reducing his pain prompted him to become an instructor in order to help others. He received his teacher certification at the American Center for the Alexander Technique after completing their 3-year, 1600 hour training course in 2013. He also holds a BS in Finance and Marketing from Florida State University. www.nycalexandertechnique.com[/author_info] [/author]

Walter Carrington at Work [video]

by Witold Fitz-Simon Walter Carrington (May 4, 1915—August 7, 2005) was a highly influential first-generation teacher of the Alexander Technique. He qualified as a teacher in 1939, but went on to serve as a pilot for the British Air Force in the Second World War. Having received severe injuries during the war, he returned to giving lessons in the Technique, including teaching on F. M. Alexander's teacher training course.

https://youtu.be/gFgbp6WveFg

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://www.acatnyc.org/main/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/After-crop1.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]WITOLD FITZ-SIMON has been a student of the Alexander Technique since 2007. He is certified to teach the Technique as a graduate of the American Center for the Alexander Technique’s 1,600-hour, three year training program. A student of yoga since 1993 and a teacher of yoga since 2000, Witold combines his extensive knowledge of the body and its use into intelligent and practical instruction designed to help his students free themselves of ineffective and damaging habits of body, mind and being. <a href="www.mindbodyandbeing.com">www.mindbodyandbeing.com</a>[/author_info] [/author]

 

How Learning the Alexander Technique Has Saved Me Money

savings_piggy_bank_smallerby Jeffrey Glazer Recently, I realized that it’s been years since I’ve spent a dime on efforts to get myself out of pain.

Before I learned the Alexander Technique, I went to practitioner after practitioner in an effort to find a solution to chronic pain in my arms and neck. But really I was just trying to manage it. In addition to the psychological and emotional cost of having chronic pain, my inability to manage it myself was costing a lot of money.

I went to a great number of medical and nonmedical practitioners. I went to two different neurologists, two different physiatrists, a Lyme disease specialist, massage therapist, multiple physical therapists, an occupational hand therapist, a chiropractor for active release therapy, multiple acupuncturists, a craniosacral practitioner, and an MD for trigger point injections. While I would often feel some relief in the short term, the debilitating pain would always come back.

At first it was similar with Alexander Technique lessons, I would walk out with less pain, but it would eventually come back. BUT, what separated the Alexander Technique from the other things I was trying was that I wasn’t being treated; rather, I was being educated. I was becoming aware of what I was doing that was actually causing my own pain.

For the first time, I made a connection between my use (how I carry myself and react to life) and my pain. And all my teacher, Judy Stern, was doing was bringing my awareness to how I was moving, pointing out areas of excess tension and distortion, and giving me the experience of carrying myself in a radically different, and almost freakishly easier way.

Once I had enough Alexander Technique experience under my belt, I became adept at creating change in myself. I learned to identify when I was doing an activity in a way that would eventually lead to pain, so that I could then use my Alexander Technique skills to make a change. Now, when I start to experience pain, I am self-sufficient in dealing with it, no longer dependent on someone else to make me feel better.

Did years of Alexander Technique lessons, including teacher training, cost money? Of course!

But, the money I’ve spent on learning the Alexander Technique has been an investment, rather than a sunk cost.

And I am now reaping the return on that investment, not only in the form of greater ease and enjoyment of life, but the economic return of savings on health care costs.

As the saying goes, “health is wealth”, now I know that can literally be true.

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://www.acatnyc.org/main/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/jeffrey.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]JEFFREY GLAZER is a certified teacher of the Alexander Technique. He found the Alexander Technique in 2008 after an exhaustive search for relief from chronic pain in his arms and neck. Long hours at the computer had made his pain debilitating, and he was forced to leave his job in finance. The remarkable results he achieved in managing and reducing his pain prompted him to become an instructor in order to help others. He received his teacher certification at the American Center for the Alexander Technique after completing their 3-year, 1600 hour training course in 2013. He also holds a BS in Finance and Marketing from Florida State University. www.nycalexandertechnique.com[/author_info] [/author]

A Master Class with Marjory Barlow [video]

by Witold Fitz-Simon This master Class with first-generation teacher, Marjory Barlow, was filmed in 1986 at the first International Alexander Technique Congress. Here she goes through the finer points of giving a table turn.

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://www.acatnyc.org/main/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/After-crop1.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]WITOLD FITZ-SIMON has been a student of the Alexander Technique since 2007. He is certified to teach the Technique as a graduate of the American Center for the Alexander Technique’s 1,600-hour, three year training program. A student of yoga since 1993 and a teacher of yoga since 2000, Witold combines his extensive knowledge of the body and its use into intelligent and practical instruction designed to help his students free themselves of ineffective and damaging habits of body, mind and being. <a href="www.mindbodyandbeing.com">www.mindbodyandbeing.com</a>[/author_info] [/author]

Transform your Career: One Woman’s Path to Becoming an Alexander Technique Teacher

by Rebecca Tuffey http://youtu.be/WQWzyU1B5cM

As a student of the Alexander Technique, I thought my teacher was a magician. She said some thought-provoking words, put her hands on me, and - voila!- I grew taller, lighter, and more free. One day, she said, “You would make a good Alexander Technique teacher. Why don’t you consider training?” I thought the idea was preposterous. She was the magic-maker; me? I was an actress. I pushed the idea away, fully contented with my weekly lessons. Like most skilled Alexander teachers, she wasn’t forceful or pushy, but kept presenting the idea as a perfectly viable possibility. She had already been teaching for twenty years. “I’ve never been bored. Each lesson is something different”. Hmmm, that intrigued me.

Then, the day came, when I realized that life as an actress was not what I had imagined it to be. I needed to figure out what I was going to do for the next twenty-some years. Six years of Alexander Technique lessons had taught me not to rush impulsively into transition. So I gave myself time and permission to consider what might come next. It was a year before I had “career clarity.” I wanted to work with bodies, be able to make real connections with individual people, and contribute something practical and helpful. A list of potential careers was made. At the bottom—but the one that sang to me—was “Alexander Technique Teacher.”

Discovering the American Center for the Alexander Technique

My teacher had trained at ACAT (the American Center for the Alexander Technique). She gave me a list of training programs, and I visited some courses. The day I visited the ACAT TCP (Teacher Certification Program), I found two skilled teachers leading a three hour class about “monkey”. The room was dynamic and quiet at the same time. There was some group discussion, and then the group separated for “turns”. I noticed that the teachers were both very engaged with the students and the process, and yet were working quite uniquely. There were no “cookie cutter” lessons being offered. This must have been what my teacher meant when she said “each lesson is something different”. I was inspired.

Life as an Alexander Technique Teacher

I was certified by ACAT to teach the Alexander Technique three years later, along with three others who began training at the same time as me. I have been teaching for almost eleven years now, and I consider my time on the ACAT TCP to be one of the most formative of my life. I found a rich community, a dedicated faculty of highly skilled teachers, an intimate environment to explore myself within, a loving and meticulous connection to the legacy of F.M. Alexander, and (most days) a lot of fun.

Teaching speaks to the creative spirit in me. Occasionally people ask if I miss acting. I don’t. As an actress, I enjoyed exploring different characters and their stories. As an Alexander Technique teacher, I get to explore human patterns (of body, mind, and spirit) from the unique point-of-view of each student who walks in my door. And…we don’t need to audition. We don’t need an audience. We show up for each other and explore doing something different with our lives.

Teachers: let’s inspire the next generation of Alexander Technique teachers. Tell your story in the comments section.

Want to meet ACAT’s Training Course Director, Faculty, Students, and Alumni working in the profession? Attend the Open House – Monday, May 4, 2015, 7-9pm Q&A, conversation, and light refreshments. R.S.V.P. to office@acatnyc.org. Please write “May 4 Open House” in the subject line.

Ready to visit the training course? Email tcp@acatnyc.org to make an appointment.

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://www.acatnyc.org/main/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/tuffey.jpeg[/author_image] [author_info]REBECCA TUFFEY graduated from the American Center for the Alexander Technique in June 2004. She is an Art of Breathing Instructor (2010) and holds a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College. Rebecca has a multi-dimensional private practice, teaching the Alexander Technique to students ages 9 to 102. She currently serves as an Associate Faculty member on the ACAT TCP and as an Adjunct at Pace University in the B.F.A. for Acting in Film, Television, Voice-overs & Commercials. She can be found online at RebeccaTuffey.net.[/author_info] [/author]

Marjory Barlow on the Alexander Technique: "Just think it. That's all you can do."

By Witold Fitz-Simon

"Just think it. That's all you can do. Any thing extra you try and do... and we all do this. We all think, "It won't matter if I do just a little bit of doing." And the whole thing is ruined. Immediately. What you're doing, what you're changing, is the pattern... are the patterns in your brain and your nervous system. And that manifests in your body. So, in a sense, you're not working on the body, except very indirectly. Do remember that, because you have control to a certain extent over what you're thinking. You have very little control over what's happening in your body. If this were not so, if it wasn't a question of the brain and nervous system, F. M. could never have discovered the work. It was only because he was able, by thinking, to stop those wrong habits. Probably one of the biggest discoveries ever made by a human being." —Marjory Barlow

Marjory Barlow (1915-2006) was F. M. Alexander's niece, who trained with him to teach the Technique in 1933.

Thanks to Jeffrey Glazer for highlighting this clip.

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://www.acatnyc.org/main/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/After-crop1.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]WITOLD FITZ-SIMON has been a student of the Alexander Technique since 2007. He is certified to teach the Technique as a graduate of the American Center for the Alexander Technique’s 1,600-hour, three year training program. A student of yoga since 1993 and a teacher of yoga since 2000, Witold combines his extensive knowledge of the body and its use into intelligent and practical instruction designed to help his students free themselves of ineffective and damaging habits of body, mind and being. <a href="www.mindbodyandbeing.com">www.mindbodyandbeing.com</a>[/author_info] [/author]

 

 

Video: "F. Matthias Alexander and the Alexander Technique"

by Witold Fitz-Simon Here is an interesting short film about F. M. Alexander culled from footage available on YouTube, and information from Wikipedia.

This video was posted to YouTube by Lisa Block.

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://www.acatnyc.org/main/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/After-crop1.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]WITOLD FITZ-SIMON has been a student of the Alexander Technique since 2007. He is certified to teach the Technique as a graduate of the American Center for the Alexander Technique’s 1,600-hour, three year training program. A student of yoga since 1993 and a teacher of yoga since 2000, Witold combines his extensive knowledge of the body and its use into intelligent and practical instruction designed to help his students free themselves of ineffective and damaging habits of body, mind and being. www.mindbodyandbeing.com[/author_info] [/author]

Five Questions with Alexander Technique Teacher Jean McClelland

Jean McClelland by Anastasia Pridlides

[Jean McClelland is teaching a free workshop for ACAT members—"The Flow of Voice, Breath and Body"—on Monday, January 26th, from 7:00pm to 9:00pm. To confirm your space in the class, email the ACAT office.]

Q. How long have you been teaching?

A. I was certified by AmSAT and ACAT in 1991, although I have been teaching singing since the late 1970s.

Q. How were you first introduced to the AT?

A. I was introduced to the Technique through a friend of mine at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, where I went in 1972 (after college) to study with the extraordinary singer, artist, and teacher, Olga Averino. My friend Susan had been studying voice since high school but had developed enormous vocal tensions. Susan's teacher at Longy (not Olga) had lived for some years in South Africa and was acquainted with the Technique and felt that Susan would benefit from lessons. There were very few AT teachers in the area at the time, but Susan started lessons with Joe Armstrong. Susan would share with me her experiences in her lessons, and she encouraged me to study with Joe by saying that she thought I would like the AT because it was "very intellectual!" Without knowing a whit about what the Technique was about, I went off for Alexander lessons. Everything in my life changed. I remember so clearly my first lesson, looking at Joe and thinking that he was standing in a very odd fashion. He clearly had a "torso back and up off the legs,"which is what we see in great athletes and musicians, but it was foreign to my eyes and foreign to my body. It was however exactly what Olga meant when she said that a singer must, "stand like a baseball player." At that time, I had little understanding of how to use my body. Indeed, the comment after my first jury in conservatory was, "Musically very intelligent but needs to develop the physical requirements necessary for solo singing."

Q. What made you decide to become a teacher of this work?

A. About six months after I started lessons with Joe Armstrong, my posture changed quite significantly, and about a year after that, I had an experience that was quite revelatory. I was in conversation with someone, and for the first time in my life, I was totally present and spontaneous. I think that experience made me understand the profound nature of the Alexander Technique, even though I was light years away from understanding it. Those early years of study were so transformative to every aspect of my life that it seemed natural to want to share this work with others. I have always loved teaching, and once I started doing more and more voice teaching, it became apparent to me that including Alexander as part of voice study would be ideal. In the late 80s, I began to shift my performing away from musical theater to more concert work, and it became easier for me to commit to the three-year training. I entered ACAT in the spring of 1988.

Q. What most excites you about your upcoming workshop at ACAT?

A. The art of using one's voice in singing and acting can often seem quite mysterious. In her autobiography, "The Inner Voice: the Making of a Singer," the opera singer Renée Fleming asks: "How can I describe a process to you that is mostly unconscious?" And Olga Averino in her book, "Art and Principles of Singing," writes that "the process of good singing is a process of physical and psychological coordination. Physical coordination depends on the alignment of the singer's instrument. In itself, it produces no sound, but it creates the conditions which allow the imagination to produce the sound." As Alexander teachers we guide our singing and acting students to an improved use of their bodies and their coordination, but we must also be able to help them free their imaginations and encourage them to have a curious and improvisational mind. Only then will they truly sing or act freely and expressively.

My main goal for this workshop is for participants to explore how to use their imaginations to stimulate breath and voice, and to understand and how to creatively work with many of the vocal concepts that abound in voice lessons, such as: vocal support; open throat; breath movement; diaphragmatic breathing; grounding; embodied voice, intention, etc.

Q. What is your favorite way to engage with the AT in your daily life right now?

A. It's simply a way of being present in the world, isn't it?

[author] [author_info]JEAN MCCLELLAND received her B.A. from Vassar College, did graduate study at Boston University in opera, and has studied extensively at the Carl Stough Institute, Psychosynthesis Institute of New York, and the Michael Chekhov Studio. As a performer she has appeared in the Broadway production of "Camelot" and has played leading roles in numerous musicals and operas. Jean also performs in concert with her husband, Bill McCelland. Jean is on the faculty of the New York Open Center and has given workshops at New York University, Vassar College, Rutgers University, William Paterson University, Stevens Institute and the Rowe Conference Center. www.jeanmcclellandvoice.com [/author_info] [/author]