What is a lesson ?

The Alexander technique is not an healing method so it involves no "patient handling sessions".

It is a method of "(re-)education" of the body and mind, kinestetic sense and awareness capacities so it takes place in "lessons".

These "lessons" are in no way theoretical, even if the teacher may use some light theoretical information (f.i. on anatomy or phisiology, but most often on the principles and concepts of the Alexander Technique) but this is used and usually transmitted in a very practical way (except when the interest and knowledge of the teacher and pupil may justify some deepening of the theory involved, but this is in no way required and I believe in most cases not applied, the emphasis being always on the "experience").

There may also be group sessions most often as introdution courses or as practice sessions for teachers in training or exchange between graduate teachers.

But the "normal mode" of knowledge transmission is done in individual lessons.

This is due to a very simple and practical reason: the Alexander Technique is not a mechanical activity which can be copied by a group imating the teacher standing in front of the group, it is an "experience" which must be transmitted to the pupil by the teacher using his hands to lead and "monitor" the "experience".

In a non-judgemental way the teacher monitors/accompanies the pupil and gives him/her feedback (using his hands, with light or very light touches, or words) to lead the pupil through the "new experience".

To monitor what is happening the teacher uses also his eyes and in doing so he can sometimes monitor more then one pupil. This can be applied to working with groups but in most delicate moments (and almost everything is delicate when trying to live out a new experience which just modifies how we do everyday activities without involving any new activity or exercise) the teacher needs his full attention to communicate the new experience to the pupil and to "hear with his hands" what is happening.

Therefore, the individual lesson is the main and almost only means of transfer of Alexander Technique knowledge!

Note: notice the highlight on almost... there is at least one sure alternative to the individual lesson: F.M. Alexander always said and repeated something like (one of these days I'll look for the exact citation): "you can do what I do if you do what I did". F.M. never considered he invented anything, he always stressed the fact he was forced to discover for himself what was happening to him (what *he* was doing to himself, that is actually the first step: to take responsability for oneself and not accuse external factors) because the doctors could not offer good enough explanations or a definitive cure (after long rest and being "cured" the first time he was on stage the same problem appeared again so he reasonned it could be something he did himself but no one could explain to him what it was or how it happened).

He spent several years (at least 9 if I am not wrong) observing himself and trying to discover what was happening and how to correct it. He always assumed anyone could do the same and also said at some time "if I had not done it some other chap would have had to go through it" because it was there and would inevitably have been discovered by someone. Someone with his discipline, perseverance and hability to accept experience over theory and observation (eyes) in favour of feelings, I would add.

Reading books, or as is now modern, websites like this, may give hints, suggest what happens but there is no alternative to "experience". And to get it, unless one does go through all that F.M. went through (and described in his book "The Use of the Self" ), there is no way but to accept the guidance of a teacher offering direct contact, presence and full attention.

Please send any comments to António Guerreiro. Last updated on 08.02.2004.