Conscious Control Heading

Contents of published issues. To order back issues please see Mouritz titles.

Conscious Control Vol. 2 No. 2 ~ December 2008

Published 2 December 2008. Circulation: 217 (as of publication date).
Acceptance rate: 63%. 80 pages, b/w illustrations.

Unmisted by love or dislike by Claire Rechnitzer
This article reviews the value of “mirror work” for learning and teaching the Alexander Technique. Mirrors provide objective feedback, broaden our perspective and encourage a realistic perception of oneself. The author discusses their historical contribution to the evolution of the Technique and proposes a deliberate approach in order to promote an appreciation of mirror work. She also suggests a number of practical ways to best take advantage of them in teaching and learning situations. This article won the second prize in the 2008 Mouritz Award.

On learning and teaching the F. M. Alexander Technique by Kathleen Ballard
This 1989 F. M. Alexander Memorial Lecture considers the role of short and long-term memory, both verbal and non-verbal, with reference to F. M. Alexander, F. P. Jones and I. Tasker. Ballard argues that effective learning of directions, their recall, and application of the Technique depend on interaction of all kinds of memory and thinking, and that teaching needs to include both verbal and non-verbal language. The combination of words, imagery, concepts and informed touch in teaching “alternative” directions for lengthening and widening, is described. The directions, illustrated by diagrams, are for use in semi-supine, sitting, standing and going into “monkey”.

Statistical evidence that the beneficial effect of learning and applying the Alexander Technique is generic by Chloe Stallibrass
This article presents an analysis (not previously reported) of data collected in a study “Randomized controlled trial of the Alexander technique for idiopathic Parkinson’s disease” published in 2002. In this trial the performance of 25 activities by the Alexander Technique group was compared to two control groups. In this article the 25 activities are analysed by two subgroups: the first group comprising activities regularly used in lessons, and the second, activities never or very rarely used. The analysis of the questionnaires from patients showed that both types of activity improved. The results demonstrate that learning the Alexander Technique has generic beneficial impact on the performance of activities of different kinds, regardless of whether they are performed in lessons. This is in contrast to therapies involving repetitive physical exercises focused on particular problems.

Poems: "Gravity’s Law" by Rainer Maria Rilke and "Quintessence" by anonymous

Elisabeth Walker – A portrait of a life with the Alexander Technique by Jean M. O. Fischer
Elisabeth Walker trained as a teacher with F. M. Alexander, qualifying in 1947. She and her husband, Dick Walker, lived and taught in South Africa 1948-60. They moved to Oxford where they also ran a teachers’ training course. This portrait, based on her memoirs, interviews and other sources, recounts her experiences with the Technique.

Book reviews: The Mind and the Brain by Jeffrey M. Schwartz and Sharon Begley - Reviewed by Jean M. O. Fischer

Behind the chair: Jeeves and Wooster go ‘Right Ho!’ with Alexander
Conscious Control Vol. 2 No. 1 ~ April 2008

Published 28 April 2008. Circulation: 152 (as of publication date).
Acceptance rate: 71%. 96 pages, b/w illustrations.

Sailing your own ship by Shelagh Aitken
This article explores the rich and varied connections between sailing and the Alexander Technique. Sailing metaphors and references to sailing appear in F. M. Alexander’s writings and Walter Carrington’s talks. Many Alexander Technique principles apply on board a boat, and the applications of the Technique to a variety of typical sailing activities are discussed. These include boarding and disembarking, moving around and maintaining balance on board, steering and manoeuvring efficiently. On a general level, the concepts of direction, inhibition, habitual patterns and reaction find parallels in sailing. The Technique informs sailing and sailing encourages the use of the Technique. This article won the third prize in the 2007 Mouritz Award.

Forward and up at fifty by Carla Aitkinson
Atkinson relates how she lived for many years with the effects of a mild case of poliomyelis and how the Technique helped her. Polio caused her heels to be two inches off the ground in her childhood, and she describes how she adapted to this handicap. She underwent many treatments, surgery and an “iron boot”, and, later in life, osteopathy and gymnastics, among others. Atkinson observes that although the initial handicap became less severe, her habits which were formed in adapting to the handicap persisted and had deleterious effects on her condition and general health. At age 50 she started having lessons with F. M. Alexander in New York (possibly 1919), and she relates the many benefits she obtained. First published in 1943.

Letting it happen by Mary Holland
In this 2004 F. M. Alexander Memorial Lecture Holland relates how her father, after having lessons from F. M. Alexander in 1938, arranged lessons for herself, her two sisters, and her mother. Holland takes their various responses to the Technique as the starting point for examining the role of “letting” in relation to the themes of chance, choice, and change. Letting is described as embracing non-doing, openness, trust, and letting go of control. One form of “letting” is giving others the freedom to make their own choices. “Letting” challenges our habit of trying to “do”, influences our attitudes towards right and wrong, and is seen as essential to learning and practising the Technique.

Alexander’s terminological maze by Peter Ribeaux
The fact that Alexander’s terminology is problematic has practical consequences. It is argued that there is a strong correlation between our understanding of the basic concepts of the Technique and our of teaching and practising the Technique. The concepts covered are: use, sensory apprectiation, inhibition, directions and orders, and the primary control. Each concept, their variations and different meanings are discussed. The interpretation of these will affect the style of hands-on work in teaching.

Tests of principle in physical education by George L. Trevelyan
George Trevelyan trained as a teacher on Alexander’s first training course 1931–34. In this paper, first published in 1938, Trevelyan compares principles and assumptions of physical education to the Alexander Technique. This comparison is still valid today. Five key points in the Technique are briefly described: 1. that the organism works as a unity, 2. that defects are mainly the results of “doing”, 3. that sensory appreciation is unreliable, 4. that we need to change from the known to the unknown, 5. that the primary control governs our use. These points are used to refute four assumptions in physical education: 1. that development of the whole can be achieved through the development of parts, 2. that the ability to perform a certain activity means that it is beneficial for us, 3. that instructions as to what to do can be communicated verbally reliably, and 4. that there are “right” positions. Three criteria by which to judge any method of physical education are suggested.

Jeanne Day – A portrait of a life with the Alexander Technique by Jean M. O. Fischer
Jeanne Day started having lessons in 1959 at the age of 41. She trained as a teacher with the Carringtons, qualifying in 1964. She introduced the Alexander Technique to Dartington College, where later she ran a teacher training course with Aksel Haahr. This portrait, based on interviews, recounts her experiences with the Technique.

Book review: "The Future of Alexander Technique Teacher Education" by Terry Fitzgerald - Reviewed by Jean M. O. Fischer

Letters: The origin of semi-supine - Factual directions - Teaching in Weymouth College

Behind the chair: Hero of the beach

Conscious Control Vol. 1 No. 2 ~ November 2007

Published 7 November 2007. Circulation: 156 (as of publication date).
Acceptance rate: 45%. 96 pages, b/w illustrations.

Teaching F. M. Alexander’s technique in a boys’ preparatory boarding school 1936-39 by Gurney MacInnes
These three reports relates MacInnes’s teaching experience of the Technique at Weymouth College. He had trained with F. M. Alexander 1931-34 with the purpose of teaching the Technique in schools. The experimental project was to investigate to what extent the Technique could be introduced into the life and work of a school. MacInnes mostly gave private lessons, starting with the Junior School, ages 8 to 10. His account covers the structure and development of the project, and the progress pupils made, including individual case histories. He sums up his experiences (conditions) for making the Technique part of school education.

1600 and all that by Terry Fitzgerald
In this extract from his doctoral thesis, Fitzgerald critiques the practice of use of mandatory time-specific protocols (as characterised by the 1600-hour rule), a practice which governs most Alexander Technique (AT) teacher education. Fitzgerald approaches this critique from educational and historical directions. The educational analysis draws on the AT literature as well as contemporary educational scholars sympathetic to what is being called “the emerging paradigm of learning”. The historical analysis is informed by 20th century accounts of both AT and school teacher education. The author argues that time-specific teacher education is antithetical to Alexander’s holistic principles. This article won the second prize in the 2007 Mouritz Award for writing on the Alexander Technique.

Touching the heart by Missy Vineyard
This extract from the author’s book How you stand, how you sit, how you live (2007) discusses the importance and significance of touch. She considers the origin of touch, and the importance of touch for the development and health of both animals and humans. Touch functions as a way of communication, and is perhaps a necessary foundation for our sense of meaning. Touch is undervalued in modern life and the positive effects of touch are unappreciated. Because of their interconnectedness it is suggested that the sensory systems of touch and bodily sensation could be viewed as one sensory system and termed “the sense of feeling”. The role and purpose of touch in teaching the Alexander Technique is explored.

Vera Cavling – A portrait of a life with the Alexander Technique by Jean M. O. Fischer
Vera Cavling had lessons with F. M. Alexander in 1948 and subsequently trained as a teacher, starting with the Barlows in 1950 and finishing with the Carringtons in 1964. This portrait, based on interviews, recounts her experiences with the Technique, both as a pupil and as a teacher.

Book review: How you stand, how you sit, how you live by Missy Vineyard - Reviewed by Jean M. O. Fischer

Behind the chair: Alexander Technique fashionista - 1

Conscious Control Vol. 1 No. 1 ~ April 2007

Published 3 April 2007. Circulation: 246 (as of publication date).
Acceptance rate: 75%. 96 pages, b/w illustrations.

The Alexander Technique in the training of actors by Steven Hallmark
Through examples of how the Technique can be applied to acting, the author argues that basic chair and table work in the Technique provides the acting student with the essential fundamentals for all forms of acting. He relates how the Technique informed his own acting studies in 1973, and he describes some of the exercises he used for acting students in Stockholm in 1993-99. These exercises include work in communicating basic movement intentions, improvisation work, Stanislavski work, voice work, mask work, and clown work. The article introduces the Alexander Technique.
Also available as a PDF download.

Flecto-sapiens-orials by Christine Ackers
In suggesting another name for homo sapiens the author is arguing that bending is more characteristic of - and important to - humans than realised. An awareness of the freedom we have in bending compared with many animals might make us appreciate and utilise this special skill better. Bending with good use requires freedom of the joints, which in turn requires good co-ordination of the whole musculature. Freedom is achieved by “unbending”, i.e. an extension in which lengthening of the musculature can take place. The article introduces the Alexander Technique.

Looking both ways by Polly Waterfield
This article looks back on recent training while looking ahead to the development of a teaching style. The starting point is the fact that Alexander teaching is based on our responses to being taught, and that therefore reflecting on one’s own learning experience is an important part of becoming a teacher. In reflecting on the difficulties the author encountered in learning, she discusses the nature of primary control, means and ends, habit, direction and inhibition, faulty sensory appreciation, use and function, and psychophysical unity.

Reflections on the “Opinion survey on voluntary self-regulation” by Walter Carrington
In the Spring of 2005 STAT sent out a survey to its members with the single question: “Do you think that STAT should continue to participate in the work of the Alexander Technique Voluntary Self-Regulation Group?” In arguing that the ATVSRG is unable to fulfil some of its purposes, Carrington addresses two issues. First, he is arguing that teachers’ primary source of work will arise from their own application of the Technique. Second, he argues that the Technique will not achieve universal recognition because of any verbal exposition, and that recognition will come only from individuals who have practical experience of the Technique.

Two interviews with Walter Carrington by Hidemi Hatada
The questions for these interviews were submitted by readers of STATNews in response to a request by Hidemi Hatada. She has added questions of her own. The first interview covers mainly individual teaching issues such as direction, inhibition, ordering, teaching in groups, and teaching children. The second interview deals primarily with teacher training issues such as Alexander’s training course and the development of the structure of the Carringtons’ training course. Both interviews discuss lying-down work.

Book review: Posture, Poise and Positive Health by Dr Grahame Fagg - Reviewed by Jean M. O. Fischer

Behind the chair: Great advertising campaigns (that never were)