Friday, December 22, 2006

Fred Lacy AT Video

I just watch the video produced by Frederick Lacy - he has done a nice job. It is nappy, professionally done, with nice touches of humour and, most suprising for me, full of my friends! Check it out when you can - I don't think it is out, but google the name "The Alexander Technique by Frederick Lacy" will get a hit when it does.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Alexander Technique: FM's MSI 6 Point Sitting Plan Revisited

Alexander Technique: FM's MSI 6 Point Sitting Plan Revisited: "http://dialoguers.livejournal.comhttp://franis.blogspot.com"

I choose "re-decide" based on Alexander's 5 point plan in UOS Chapter 1 "Evolution of a Technique" where he uses the word "decision" and "reconsider" when describing how he used his plan to overcome his habitual response. I guess "re-decide" comes from combining those two!

This is the passage:

" (4) while still continuing to project the directions for the new use I would stop and consciously reconsider my first decision, and ask myself "Shall I after all go on to gain the end I have decided upon and speak the sentence? Or shall I not? Or shall I go on to gain some other end altogether?" -- and then and there make a fresh decision..."

Thursday, October 19, 2006

FM's MSI 6 Point Sitting Plan Revisited

FM's 6 Point Plan for Sitting In A Chair (MSI Part 2 Chapter 7)

"20. These same rules are equally applicable in principle to the acts of sitting and of rising from a sitting position. Very few people have the right mental conception of the ”means whereby” of these acts or of the correct use of the parts which should be employed in their performance, and this despite the fact that we are performing these acts continually, and with such apparent ease from our own point of view. If you ask any of your friends to sit down, you will notice, if you observe their actions closely, that in nearly all cases there is undue increase of muscular tension in the body and lower limbs; in many cases the arms are actually employed. As a rule, however, the most striking action is the alteration in the position of the head, which is thrown back, whilst the neck is stiffened and shortened. Now I will describe the correct method, but it must be borne in mind that it is useless to give what I here call ”orders” to the muscular mechanism, until the original habit and the principle of mental conception connected with this action have been eradicated. If, for instance, before giving any of the ”orders” which follow, the experimenter has already fixed in his mind that he is to go through the performance of sitting down, as that performance is known to him, this suggestion will at once call into play all the old vicious co-ordinations, and the new orders will never influence the mechanisms to which they are directed, because those mechanisms will already be imperfectly employed, and will be held in their old routine by the force of the familiar suggestion.
Firstly, then, rid the mind of the idea of sitting down, and consider the exercise and each order independently of the final consequence they entail. In other words, study the "means,” not the "end.”
Secondly, stand in the position already described as the correct standing position, with the back of the legs almost touching the seat of the chair. Thirdly, order the neck to relax, and at the same time order the head forward and up. (Note that to ”order” the muscles of the neck to relax does not mean ”allow the head to fall forward on the chest.” The order suggested is merely a mental preventive to the erroneous preconceived idea.)
Fourthly, keep clearly in the mind the general idea of the lengthening of the body which is a direct consequence of the third series of orders. And
fifthly, order simultaneously the hips to move backwards and the knees to bend, the knees and hip-joints acting as hinges. During this act a mental order must be given to widen the back. When this order is fulfilled, the experimenter will find himself sitting in the chair. But he is not yet upright, for the body will be inclined forward, unless he frustrates the whole performance at this point by giving his old orders to come to an upright position.
Sixthly, then — and this is of great importance — pause for an instant in the position in which you will fall into the chair if the earlier instructions have been correctly followed, and then, after ordering the neck to relax and the head forward and up, the spine to lengthen, and the back to widen, come back into the chair and to an upright position by using the hips as a hinge, and without shortening the back, stiffening the neck or throwing up the head."

***

Jeremy's Simplified Generic Version
1. Clarify your intention
2. Unify your Field of Attention (i.e. your self, your surroundings, your intention)
3/4. Ask for your co-ordination
5. Move from the leading edges of the movement while letting your arms go on a holiday
6. Re-decide - clarify leading edge - move.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Marketing AT

These are some comments I made recently on the Alextech mailing list on the subject of why AT is not faring so well these days. If you want to read other people's comments, please go to this URL - http://groups.google.com/group/alextech

1st Post
I do think AT is living in a dinosaur era when it comes to marketing - we get too precious about not giving the wrong message to people, that there is no message getting out at all! Sometimes I think we are writing our marketing messages for each other, not the public. It has to be 'so right' and not 'misrepresent' the work.

In Japan I have decided to drop the name "Alexander Technique" and begin marketing it under a new name, currently applying for a trade mark. This is easy to do because this is a foreign culture, nobody ever heard of AT anyway, so why translate a rather difficult name for marketing purposes? Why not just invent a new name that resonates with consumers? Of course we are NOT inventing a new technique. As people get past the trumpets, the dear old AT will still be there in it's pure form. It's great work, but people need a handle on it BEFORE they come.

The cringe factor has set us all back I think - oh, you can't say it's about posture (for example). Well why not? That's what people first understand, that's how they think. In my teaching practise I begin where people's thinking is, not expect them to be already thinking as I want them to be BEFORE they even had a lesson!

People want "to do" something. OK - let's give them a "to do" something in the marketing. And of course you are clever - you never actually lie about what you are doing. You just use a language that makes more sense to people.

So when they come, IF THEY COME, that's the time to begin the lesson. I admit this approach will fail with many - when they get there and find out there is no "to do" in the way they understand it, they will leave disappointed. "Where are the exercises?" But there are also who come with that idea, become surprised to discover it is nothing of the kind, and eventually have their lives deeply enriched by coming into contact with the work.

2nd Post
One distinction that is important when you are talking about the market, is to know WHICH market.

I think most AT teachers market themselves towards what I would call "non-consumer" market. This includes musicians, educators, other therapists, professionals in their own field - generally the kind of people who want a lot of detailed information, who don't mind complicated explanations, who want to read a book or two before coming. This is a very tough market, but the one in which Alexander himself succeeded very well. And, as we seem to do with most things, we still copy FM and try to continue to marketing ourselves towards this group.

Alexander, from the anecdotal evidence, rarely seem to come into contact with the ordinary, everyday consumer. They couldn't afford his lessons for a start, let alone understand all the talk of non-doing, learning nothing and you-already-have-it but-lost-it talk. I have been a past-time offender when it comes to this.

But this group - the consumer group - that the likes of yoga, pilates etc. have been so successful at cultivating, is where AT has failed so dismally. I wonder how Alexander's vision of the resurrection of humanity can be achieved by basically ignoring the largest group of people around?

Even within the consumer market, there are groups - and the language, approach, message will differ depending on which group you are communicating towards. In Japan, we have decided to specifically aim our marketing efforts towards single, working woman between the ages of 25~40. They are affluent, have some interest in "improving" themselves, and have time to pursue their interests. They have money to spend on a massage, a nail manicure, a film and dinner, a reflexology session and, hopefully, a coaching session in "TBA" at the "TBA" studio. They are hotly contested, so unless you utilize professionals to show you the techniques and principles that have been developed over many years to reach these people, you haven't got a hope.

My analysis is that the people who want to train to be teachers very rarely have the skill set to also set up a business and market themselves. These skills are themselves another career! So my idea is to build a company in Japan that employs AT teachers, and pay people who have marketing skills to do what they are good at, so the AT teachers can do what THEY are good at. This is why other groups have succeeded where we have not - they have banded together to make a business which then has the economic muscle to contest within the market place. AT is such an individualist culture, that this has tended not to happen. Actually - can anyone name me a Alexander teaching based corporation?

I want to create a culture in Japan that becoming an AT teacher is a viable career. I think there are many people in the West who might want to become AT teachers, but if they have a young family and financial responsibilites, the model they are presented is not very promising. AT teachers seem to fare as well as actors these days. Who can seriously entertain an idea of becoming an AT teacher and managing to raise a family at the same time?

Until we change the culture of AT, and demonstrate that it is a viable career (as well as a calling - it is OK for it to be BOTH, right?), our training schools will continue diminishing as anecdotal evidence seems to suggest is happening.