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My local college is offering an Alexander Technique class this spring

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Libersolis, Nov 27, 2005.

  1. Libersolis


    Sep 9, 2004
    Austin, TX
    Needless to say I signed up for it. I am very excited about this, and some people I have talked to have even told me it will be life changing..Does anyone have experience with AT that can give me a heads up on what to expect?
  2. Uncletoad


    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    Life changing, yes at least it has been for me. Be sure to bring your bass and anything else you spend time working with. There is no substitute for working with the items you spend time using during your day. In addition to working with me while I play I had my alexander teacher come to my workshop several times and help me adjust some work stations and then actually work with me while I was working on instruments. It helped immensely.
  3. Libersolis


    Sep 9, 2004
    Austin, TX
    I am greatly looking forward to this class. I currently take bass lessons from a teacher well versed in Alexander Technique, but I am sure nothing beats having the type of experience I will have from taking a specific AT class. I will definately keep you guys posted on how things go.
  4. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    e-mail DONOSAUR (aka Don Higdon), he's started teaching Alexander Technique.
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I did Alexander Technique classes at a local community centre - it was very good and was in a way life-changing - but it wasn't anything to do with music or bass-playing as such...?

    It was about posture, breathing, relaxing - things like that - the course I went on specified that you wear loose clothing and bring nothing with you but a few paper-back books....:meh:

    I agonised about the choice - what would it say about me, would we be discussing their content ...etc etc.!! ;)

    But they were to place under the back of your head, when lying on the floor!! :D
  6. I'm a former bassist, now a certified AT teacher.
    In terms of learning the technique, having the bass at the lesson is irrelevant.
    You cannot learn anything from someone who has not been trained to be a teacher.
    The Alexander Technique is not condition-specific. It is general. All of my students get the same lesson, regardless of the conditions they present to me. The activities in the lesson are simply devices to reach the brain through kinesthesia. The goal of the work is to change the thought process. Therapeutic benefits frequently accrue, but only as indirect consequences of changed thinking. All kinds of conditions have been helped by me restoring a student's homeostasis, at which point they healed themselves. It is common for a condition to be mitigated without the teacher knowing it existed in the first place.
    My site is under construction: http://www.dhigdon.com/index.html
  7. Uncletoad


    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    I respect your expertise and think I understand the way you conceptualize the AT work. I agree that none of my Alexander Teachers have played the bass or fixed an instrument and are therefore not qualified to instruct me in those pursuits. I also agree that instruments or tools or specifics are not needed to fully realize Alexander.

    You are correct that the bass or any other materials are not required to learn the Alexander Tecnique.

    None of that invalidates my experience with my instructors. Without exception my Alexander teachers over the last 20 years worked with me in both generic settings and also in specifics while I was doing the work and playing I do.

    Barbara Conable (a pupil of Marjorie Barstow) was my primary teacher until she left Columbus several years ago. William Conable, Lucy Venable and currently Melinda Murphy all have taught me since then using the context of the work I do in addition to the general things like Monkey.

    For me those lessons have been incredibly freeing--more so than any other work I've done. Perhaps these teaching methods are unusual in the mainstream of Alexander, I don't know. I'm only a student. I'm quite sure they are valid for me. I find it hard to believe these direct descendants from the original F.M. classes are getting it "wrong".
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Yeah but your advice to Libersolis was inappropriate - which was what this thread was about - helping somebody else, not your personal situation.
  9. First, you are fortunate in having studied with the Conables. I'll guess that Venable and Murphy also were trained by him.
    Second, I don't know how what I said invites the two responses above. Now that I know you know the language, my point is that bringing the bass to the lesson is a powerful stimulus to end-gain, or to think too much of the activity rather than the principle behind all activity, thereby interfering with the learning process.
    As FM said, "Boiled down, it all comes to inhibiting a particular reaction to a given stimulus. But no one will see it that way. They will all see it as getting in and out of a chair" [or playing the bass] "the right way. It is nothing of the kind. It is that a pupil decided what he will or will not consent to do."
    That's what I meant. I don't know how you can construe what I said to be an inference that your teachers are getting it wrong.
    Forward and up.
  10. Uncletoad


    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    Perhaps I misread the intention in your reaction to my post. My perception of what you wrote was to somehow discount my suggestions as invalid or inappropriate. I felt chastised for them. I don't believe my suggestions are either inappropriate or invalid. You do bring a very powerful caveat to them.
    I agree. I had not considered that.

    My suggestion that someone bring their stuff to their lesson is innocently based on my own experience with my teachers. I didn't know anybody did it without that.

    Marjorie Barstow preferred to avoid the table and work with people in activities so they could generalize the concept. I did work with Barbara Conable on the Table, chair, floor and with my instruments. Bill Conable (a cellist) only did work with me with the instrument. Lucy Venable (a dancer and also a Barstow pupil) had me dancing and walking. My continuing work with Melinda mixes all of that.

    My propensity towards downward pull was profound and debilitating. It is a very powerful and persistant habit. Teaching my body to disregard that habit has required me to realize primary control in many contexts to fully internalize the concept. I need periodic reminders or I tend to move back into downward pull. When my teachers work with me on the instrument I am better reminded on the gig.
  11. Late in his life, Alexander was asked if he "practiced" the technique every day. His response was "Dare I not?"
  12. Uncletoad


    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
  13. I'm a little confused.

    What exactly is Alexander Technique? What do you learn about - relaxation techniques? How does it relate to bass - does it help your posture/physical position or does it help you have a relaxed outlook?

  14. Uncletoad


    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    That is a difficult question to answer in a few words. It's much easier to understand after some time spent with a teacher.

    Alexander study has made me a better player, has made me feel more at home in my body and reduced carpal tunnel symptoms. I can't imagine playing anymore without awareness of it.

    Try Googling your question to get started reading. Find a teacher in your area and take some lessons. It's some of the best money you'll ever spend.
  15. ii7-V7


    Aug 4, 2002
    Baltimore, MD
    Allow me to be a devils advocate here....

    I'm about to say something that might be ridiculous or obnoxious, seeing as this method seems so widely accepted, but I'll say it anyway.

    This "technique" that your talking about sounds like a scam. I may be entirely wrong about this but I'm always skeptical when people talk about how a new "method of self-awareness" is going to change my life, but they can't really tell you what it is?

    I was given a body by God, and somehow in all the years of living in society my mind has been trained how to NOT use it? It sound a little "gnostic" to me. If its so natural then why do you need a private teacher to do it. I mean I've been breathing all my life. It seems strange to me that something so intuitive would require so much teaching?

    Perhaps I'm being overly skeptical, but this seems a little like snakewater to me. I'll be more than happy to admit that I'm wrong if someone can demonstrate to me that I am. Apparently the peopel here have derived some benefit from it...so help me to figure out where it is that my judgement is faulty. Is there anything to this technique that is world-shattering and that couldn't be figured out with common sense?

  16. Alex Scott

    Alex Scott

    May 8, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Yes, you may be wrong there ChadPUkes
  17. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    It's not a scam in any way - and yes until you go to a class with a teacher, then you won't discover it simply by common sense ..

    I didn't find it "world-shattering" in the way you may be thinking - but it made me think about my body in a different way and gave me techniques for dealing with a bad back.

    I think when you are young, you don't think about your body and feel "invulnerable" (especially young men) - as you get older you start to realise that everything you do has an effect on your body and most of what you do has a detrimental effect! :(

    Alexander Technique is something that can help you with this - it's no scam, no snakewater ...

    I'm the most skeptical person in the world - I will tell you that Scientology is a scam, total hokum to make money - but AT is just a very practical thing, that was developed by an actor who had problems with his stage technique/craft and found a way of dealing with these problems that he realised could be useful to a lot of other people...:)
  18. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Just to address this specific point - there's no God in it - I'm an athiest and there was no mention of God in any of the teaching, that I experienced.

    Secondly - sitting around all day in poorly-designed chairs is not natural. walking around with your eyes fixed on the ground is not natural....etc. etc.

    But we do these things and many other bad habits - just because everbody else does - doesn't mean they are right...:meh:
  19. Paraphrasing Alexander, the problem here is the thing that you want to use for judgement is the thing that has to be changed. “You can’t know a thing by an instrument that is broken.”

    If you read what has been posted a little more carefully, you’ll see that no one said it will change your life. I said it changed my life, ‘Toad said it changed his. My students say it changed theirs. Nicholas Tinbergen, winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine, said in his acceptance speech that it changed his. Too much “snakewater” before he spoke? Charles Sherrington, another Nobel Prizewinner for Medicine, lauded Alexander’s insight into neuromuscular activity. Yeah, a big scam. As Alexander said, “It doesn’t alter a fact that you can’t understand it.”

    Learning AT is a right brain experience. The right brain does not have the capacity to speak. The left brain has the capacity to speak. The left brain does not have the capacity to experience. Read up on Sperry’s experiments with brain individuation.
    Thomas Aquinas said that there is nothing in the intellect that was not first a sensation.
    If you have not had the sensory experience of the Alexander Technique, as recommended in Uncletoad’s post, it follows that your questions, opinions and pejoratives come from a position of ignorance. In this position, you’re not able to know if a statement about AT is true or false. The burden is not on the world to help you figure out where your judgement is faulty. It’s your job. By the same token, when people “can’t really tell you what it is” that they experienced sensorily, (read Gary Zukav’s commentary on brain individuation and our cultural left-brain bias in his writings on quantum mechanics) it is no less valid.

    If you’re not going to Google for the ton of information readily available, maybe you’ll be willing to visit some sites where you can read the results of scholarly studies of AT.
    Re Parkinson’s Disease: http://www.londonalexander.co.uk/index.html
    Re Reach and balance in older women: http://biomed.gerontologyjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/54/1/M8
    Re Breathing: http://www.chestjournal.org/cgi/content/abstract/102/2/486

    England’s Kingston Hospital did a 2 year study and uses AT in its pain management clinic.
    A big-time scam. Right.
  20. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    What does it entail? Is it like yoga? Is it meditation? Is it exercise? Is it bigger than a breadbox? Does it involve paddling? Do I have to wear leather or can I choose latex?

    Just trying to figure out what it is . . .

    How long are the sessions? Where does one find certified instructors? Is it expensive?