Modelling the Alexander Technique

What does the word ‘modelling’ conjure up for you?  The catwalk? Aardman?  Airfix?  It’s not a word usually associated with Alexander lessons.

Which is a shame, because an Alexander lesson is (about) 30 minutes of concentrated modelling.  Let me explain.

In every lesson you choose an activity, and you and your teacher look at that activity together, to see how FM Alexander’s ideas can help.  But the purpose is not just to improve that one activity.  That’s small fry, and we’re after bigger fish.

40 modelling pic1 cutThe purpose is to improve how you do all activities.

Let’s say you’ve chosen ‘putting your boots on’ and your teacher looks at:-

1) keeping in mind the relationship of head to body
2) not involving the torso; after all, it doesn’t need to do any of the work
3) bending at the hip joints (which are not where you quite expect them to be)
4) putting your arms out first, so you know exactly how far down you need to bend to reach your boot

All these are pretty useful for putting on boots.  But what else might they be modelling?

1)  relationship of head to body turns up in all activities.  Without exception.
2)  if you spent an entire day just looking at ‘not involving the torso when it doesn’t need to work’ – and nothing else – what do you think you might find?
3)  how many different activities can you think of that require bending at the hip joints?  I came up with 34 without trying too hard, and including all sports as just one item.
4)  having a clear and logical sequence in mind before you start ANYTHING sounds like a good idea to me.  Any lesson that gets you to practise reasoning out all the mini-tasks needed, and the order they come in is giving you a very useful skill.

Clearly, you cannot cover every possible activity in lessons.  Not even if you have a LOT of lessons.

But you can extrapolate.

Every time you cover a movement, a question, an idea or an anatomical fact, you can ask yourself how and where else you can use it.   You can bear in mind that your teacher isn’t giving you right answers; she or he is modelling good ways to approach the question.

Image courtesy of Sommai /

CNHC and ITM registered Alexander Technique teacher.

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Posted in improvement, learning, tips

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