The Alexander Technique with Peter Bloch in Wilmslow, Cheshire

15/1 Other classes to visit:

John Nicholls will beteaching a public Zoom class on breathing, register here. You can also use this registration to watch the video at the time of your choosing. John is one of the most experienced teachersin the world and is very well-regarded.

Also, Jamie McDowell is offering a class on Monday mornings at 11. He's visited us several times, perhaps you saw him or tried his posted semi-supines? Jamie is co-director of the training course in Fellside. His classes are very good and payment is by voluntary donation. Email him for a Zoom link at [email protected]

Also, Anthony Kingsley, who runs a training course in London (and grew up in Wilmslow!)is open to letting our students join his classes. I don’t know about cost, you’ll need to ask him. Email him if you wish to join at [email protected]

 

7/1 Charlotte Woods spoke in the class today about the Alexander Studies Online video series on the AT and its role in supporting people with dementia, and especially about the upcoming online Q & A session on Tuesday 19th January 19.30-20.30 that you can join by sending an email signing yourself up for updates. It is all free. I recommend that teachers and students take advantage of everything that the ASO group offers - it is always very well done, and with the sole agenda of "advancing understanding of the Alexander Technique and its teaching through disciplined inquiry".

If you would like to discuss any questions you might like to ask with Charlotte before the Q & A, she invites you to contact her by email.

 

4/1 It seems almost certain that the new lockdown will exclude the possibility of 'hands-on' lessons for now. If I understood the Prime Minister's speech properly, this is quite likely to continue for about two months, until those most at risk have been vaccinated.

Fortunately for us, the wonders of modern technology do allow us to meet up online. Teachers should not be put off attending the classes because of the suggested contribution. It is just that, suggested, and if you really can't afford that I would very much rather that you felt able to come to the classes without paying.

 

3/1/2021 Happy New Year everyone! Zoom Classes will resume on Wednesday and Thursday this week and I look forward to seeing you there!

 

We will be hosting several 'special events' on Thursdays this term.

Thursday 14th January: Gary Adelman (see post 30/8) will be returning for another session on the Alexander Technique applied to tennis playing at about 11 am. If you missed the first session, which was wonderful, you can download the video from near the bottom of this page.

Thursday 21st January: Dorothea Magonet (see post 16/9), our STAT Moderator, will be teaching "an hour-long practical class with some small activities to explore working on yourself and how to work online with pupils. I envisage that we would work for about 40 minutes and then take time to exchange experiences, comments, and the ideas behind the activities."

Further likely events this term include another visit by Alex Murray (see post 30/8), reflecting on more than 60 years of teaching the Technique and Jean Fisher (see post 11/6), who has edited many of the most important books on the Technique as the publisher Mouritz. And we may have some other happy surprises, to be announced...

 

Alison Marsden, who visited many of our Wednesday Classes last term (and the occasional Thursday Class when we were meeting in Wilmslow) is offering a weekly semi-supine class on Fridays at 6 pm. Find the details on Alison's website here. Alison was my pupil for several years before training as a teacher in Fellside more than 20 years ago. She is a wonderful teacher and I'm sure her classes will be very helpful for any of you who would like a little extra support practicing your daily semi-supine this term!

 

Pete Robinson is a MATTS graduate from 2008 and teaches the AT and music in Heaton Mersey, Stockport and at the RNCM. Pete has asked me to let you all know about his YouTube channel, which now has a large and growing collection of videos and his Facebook page which has frequent interesting new posts. You'll find a lot there, and Pete is an interesting and skilled presenter as you'll soon discover.

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

2/12 You can view the text of the latest email from Ted Dimon about his new lecture series "Breathing and the Voice" here.

 

If you are over 65 and think you might be interested in participating in some research on the benefits of the AT for older people, you can find more information here.

 

There will be an online AT 'retreat' from the USA over the holiday period for teachers and trainees. It looks quite expensive but features some notable American teachers. Details here.

 

20/11 Students have been asking me which books they should consider buying. All of the most essential books are in the MATTS library, so you can have a look at them and borrow them from there if you wish. If you plan to teach the Technique, you really ought to own copies of Alexander's four books (although there is no hurry if money is an issue), starting with 'Use of the Self'. After that, I would recommend F.P Jones' book 'Freedom to Change' (an important classic) and Westfeldt's book 'FMA, the Man and his Work'. All the above are available from Mouritz and you might want to share orders to save on P&P. For guidance, I find that after P&P it comes to approx. £s for Euros. I think Julie is about to make an order.

After you have these, I would recommend Binkley's diary of lessons with FM 'Expanding Self' and Walter's books of lectures:

Carrington, W Thinking Aloud, Mornum Time Press 1994

Carrington, W The Act of Living, Mornum Time Press 1999

'Thinking Aloud' is much the more important one of the two. After that I would recommend Macdonalds 'The AT as I see it'.

Of course, there are many other excellent books, but these are the indispensible 'classics'.

 

15/11 STAT has now confirmed that the current lockdown also applies to AT teachers. This is because our insurers have chosen a rather strict interpretation of the government guidelines. Also, note that STAT insurance is not valid for CNHC members, even though the CNHC guidelines have approved close contact work.

However, within the context of training courses (exempted as an educational institution) it is still possible (in restricted circumstances) for trainee teachers to continue with individual lessons.

With luck we will all be able to return to hands-on work at the planned end of the lockdown on Thursday 3rd December. By happy coincidence the Zoom Classes will be continuing up until that same date.

 

11/11 Here is a pdf of the Bedford Lecture, a lecture, demonstration and Q&A session given by FMA in 1934 that Malcolm referred to in the class today. It was given to girls at the Bedford College for Physical Education and Ethel Webb may have taken it down in shorthand. It is an unusual opportunity to hear how FM spoke and described his work (perhaps not very well?) outside his very formally written books.

 

10/11 STAT has now clarified the situation for AT training courses during lockdown. Students are allowed to have lessons with official training course teachers as part of their studies during this lockdown. STAT is still awaiting legal advice on whether AT teachers can offer lessons outside of the context of training, but we will probably know in the next day or two.

 

7/11 I have several updates today:

1)  Firstly, AT teachers have been instructed by STAT to cease hands-on teaching during this new lockdown. However, further information from the CNHC would seem to imply that it might be possible for us to continue working. STAT is seeking further advice on this and I will inform everyone here and inform students by email as soon as I have any further significant information.

2)  If I am not able to work during the lockdown, then I plan to work over much of the Christmas holidays to allow students an opportunity to catch up with their lessons.

3)  The schedule for next week's (11th and 12th Nov) classes will be: Weds - Jane O, semi-supine; Sallie, anatomy; Thurs - Janet, semi-supine; Malcolm, MSI.

Please bring a soft tape measure or long piece of string (enough to go around your chest plus some over) to Sallie's class on Weds.

4)  I have updated the list of teachers available for hands-on lessons for when we are permitted to resume. Sue Fleming (Chorlton) and Kim Cant (Warrington) are the most recent additions. Teachers, please let me know if you wish to add your name to this list.

5)  Again, apologies for the delay in posting videos and audios from the last few weeks. This is because my website has no more storage space and what I have cannot be increased further. I plan to post the videos on YouTube, which will take me a couple of days of full time work and I have not yet had the chance. However, with the lockdown, that should all change and I hope to post them very soon.

 

22/10 In the second half of term, the Wednesday Class talks will be divided between Sallie (anatomy) and Karen (reflective practice). Sallie will be doing the first four talks (on 28 Oct & 4, 11 & 18 Nov)  and Karen the last two (on 25 Nov and 2 Dec).

 

8/10 You can download the old STAT leaflet about semi-supine here and an old leaflet (that I think is rather good) by John and Lynn Nicholls here.

 

A reminder to email me within a week if you would like to order a copy of the new Irene Tasker book. I estimate a cost of around £40, although it could be a little more. I will make two copies available in the MATTS library. I will also be ordering a copy of the two volume collection of FM's Letters for the MATTS library, but if you would like your own copy, I will include it in my order. This will probably cost around £65-£70.

 

29/9 All of the Zoom content from the past three weeks has now been posted on the new audio/video page.

 

20/9 Malcolm Williamson has written a new (short) article 'Working to a Principle' on the wider, general application of the principles that are taught in A.T. chair work to life in general. Highly recommended.

 

16/9 Dorothea Magonet will be offering private lessons to trainee teachers and teachers in Wilmslow on Monday 5th and Tuesday 6th October. She will be working from my house and charging £40 for trainees and for our potential trainees and £60 for teachers for an approx. 40 minute lesson.

Dorothea is a highly experienced teacher with considerable experience in the training of teachers. She is a past Chair of STAT and is currently on both the STAT Moderator and Assessment panel.

Please contact me directly to book a lesson. It may be possible for students to book two lessons, one on each day, if times remain available.

 

You might be interested in joining this Facebook Group called "I like lying down in semi-supine" recommended by Jane Osgood in the class today. There's lots there!

There's also a free series of guided semi-supine and many other events from 5 - 10 October from Philidelphia, USA that looks very interesting. You need to register for a link.

 

11/9 For notes and links for last Thursday's talk on returning to hands-on work, scroll down this page to the entry on 27/8.

 

Please spend at least 5 minutes preparing for Alex Murray's talk on Thursday 24th September (see below entry on 30/8) by going through this game.

To quote Alex; "we each have our own breathing rhythm and can become aware of it (and our psycho-physical unity - doing Nothing) by our own reading and attention.

None of us can remember when we first learnt to count - in development it is probably when the cortex is reasonably developed, and a vocabulary established. In human history, counting only became necessary when famiy units became tribal units. One deer is enough for a few days for a hunter gatherer. When the tribe with chief and warriors is in existence, the difference between one and a herd is important, if the 'tax' is four deer. Control has continued in leaps and bounds as we all know with our annual tax payments, all numerical, as is life on the web."

 

10/9 Here's a video of FM taken by Marge Barstow in 1934 at the graduation of the first teachers to emerge from the new training course. You can see FM acting in his white suit! Several of those graduates were still teaching into the 21st century. Thanks to Alex Murray who sent me the link.

 

9/9 Karen's Wednesday 'Introduction to Refective Practice' will continue on the following dates: September 16th; October 7th & 14th; November 4th ; December 2nd. If you missed the first one today, please try to catch up from the video (which I will post in the next few days) before next week.

I also recommend this talk for teachers - after all, our work is a form of 'reflective practice'.

Most or all of the other Wednesday talks will be a continuation of Sallie's 'Introduction to Anatomy and Physiology'.

 

9/9 Andrea Hughes (our most recent graduate) is offering lessons to trainee teachers at a special very low rate. I hope that several of you will take this opportunity to have more work at little cost, and to allow Andrea to increase her experience at a time when it will probably be more difficult to attract new pupils.

 

8/9 Racial Diversity Training - a special (optional) course suitable for AT teachers and trainees on 5 consecutive Sundays 5 - 7 pm from 11th October. This is a private initiative (like Ted Dimon's courses), and you need to sign up yourself. It works out max £62 or £46 per 2 hour session, depending on how many people register.

 

7/9 Risk assessment form for virtual classes - please download, consider and edit this form to meet your own circumstances in order to avoid any potential hazards. It should only take you about 10 minutes, time well worth spending.

 

7/9 MATTS will be re-opening as a part-time training course on Wednesday this week. Full details here. If you haven't received an email, let me know.

Students are particularly encouraged to attend the first class where we will be discussing the new training format in some detail, with an opportunity to ask any questions you may have. In addition, Karen will be giving the first of a series of talks on keeping a reflective diary, and this will be at the centre of the homework requirements for training this term.

I also encourage students to contact me to arrange private lessons now, especially if you would prefer to have regular lessons times this term. On Friday I will be contacting my private pupils to inform them that I am re-opening a my private practice, after which there will fewer choices available.

 

1/9 I will be sending out an email in a few days with detailed information about next term for students and for teachers. Here's a Dewey quote to keep you going! "The crucial educational problem is that of procuring the postponement of immediate action upon desire until observation and judgment have intervened".

 

30/8 Gary Adelman will be visiting our Zoom class on Thursday 17th September to talk about his experience of applying the principles of the AT to tennis playing. Gary was an international class tennis player and has been teaching the AT for 25 years. He visited our last two Thursday Zoom classes last term. If you have a tennis racket, please bring it to the class.

Alex Murray (see below 27/3) will be visiting our Zoom class on Thursday 24th September to summarize "60 years of thinking, reading and writing" about the AT in 50 minutes. I'm not sure how that could work, but I'm certain that we'll all learn a lot!

You will probably benefit more from Alex's talk if you have a look at his book 'Alexander's Way', available in pdf format here, and at his website on child development and the work of Dart.

 

27/8 I have added a page to my website with information about working safely during the Covid-19 pandemic. I will be working at all times to maximise the safety of students.

 

27/8 Support for teachers wishing to restart their hands-on practices: At first government guidelines can seem quite daunting (they are very long and detailed), but there is good news: they are not nearly as difficult to understand or to follow as they may first appear. Complying with, and even exceeding these guidelines, is quite straightforward. Although this information above may assist you with your own preparations for returning to work, you ought still to go through the government and CNHC guidelines yourself. It will take you several hours, but doing this gives you an opportunity to think through the issues involved in working during the pandemic. Also, the STAT office has recommended that I make it clear that I can accept no liability for any use you may make of what I have written!

I led a Zoom seminar on how to prepare to return to hands-on practice on 10th September. If there is sufficient interest, I may lead another, similar seminar in a few weeks. Please let me know if you would like that.

Link to my webpage on working safely during the pandemic

Link to newly (8/9) updated STAT membership area webpage on Coronavirus.

Link to STAT risk assessment guidance.

Link to Government 'close contact services' website

Link to CNHC (nicely, clearly set out) advice on returning to work safely

Peter's risk assessment for general working and for Covid-19 (note: you need your own!)

Link to a downloadable risk assessment template on the government HSE website

Peter's checklist of equipment (note: you need your own!) (updated 10/9)

Link to STAT waiver for pupils to sign

Link to printable poster "we comply with guidance" - but perhaps not quite appropriate for us?

Link to CNHC latest updates (should be checked regularly).

Note that you are only insured by STAT insurance to teach if you follow all Government guidance and carry out and implement a full written risk assessment of your own.

 

More information about HEPA filters: The simplest, and probably the most effective, way to reduce the amount of potential virus in your teaching space is to open a window. Using some sort of air extraction system (even just an ordinary fan directed out of the window) will further enhance this benefit. However, modern air purifiers with HEPA filters remove as much as 99.97% of airborne contaminants, including viruses the size of Covid-19, and having one in constant operation designed for at least your size of room and on a setting that will ensure rapid cleansing of the air in your teaching space should theoretically reduce risk further. When choosing an air purifier, fancy gimmicks usually add little value and note that it is unlikely that UV-C bulbs add efficacy to portable HEPA filters and may even be harmful. Make sure that anything you buy is a true HEPA filter; other types of filter are much less effective and may even do more harm than good by blowing contaminated air around the room.

It may be reasonably inferred from what is already known that installing HEPA filters, and especially that increasing ventilation, will reduce Covid transmission (although there are not yet any studies to demonstrate this effect with this particular virus). Because of this, the government is already recommending that larger businesses take these precautions where possible.

 

27/8 Ted Dimon is continuing his lecture series in the autumn, starting on 14th September. Several of you have told me that his lectures were very helpful. However, there will be a charge going forward, which is rather lower if you book by 7th September.

 

17/8 Mio Morales taught a 'masterclass' on teaching online last week. You can watch the video of the class online here, but hurry as it is only posted until 20th August.

 

12/8 Congratulations to Andrea Hughes who graduated as a teacher on Friday. She was to have completed her training some months ago, but her final Moderation was delayed because of Covid.

Andrea will be opening a private practice in Altringham shortly and will be teaching the Adult Education Introductory Course at the Wilmslow Guild in September (more).

 

24/7 A note for teachers: If you are planning to resume hands-on work, let me know and I will post your details here.

 

23/7 Thank you to everyone who came to our classes this term. A reminder that today was the last class until 9th September! All video & audio of this term is now posted.

A nice quote from Othello; “… our bodies are our gardens to the which our wills are gardeners”.

 

- The most beautiful squat I've ever seen.

 - Apropos the racisim at the end of Chapter 5 of MSI, see this new statement by the STAT-affliliated US Society. Thanks to Sue Fleming for the link.

 - Thank you to Pam Hebden for pointing out that there is quite a lot in Lulie Westfeldt's book addressing the question of one leg being longer than the other and how the AT can address this. See especially pages 86-7. There are several copies in the library.

 

13/7 Have you seen this rather good video? It was shown on Channel 4 in 1984, in the days when there were only 4 channels, so many people would have seen it. You get to see many teachers no longer with us, including Dr Barlow (I was in front of his grid and on his table in my underwear too!), Chris Stevens (one of my first teachers) and Danny Pevsner (originator of saddle work) whose wife Gloria some of you met when she came to work with us at the riding stables in Mobberley many years ago.

 

10/7 I have just received an email from STAT to say that AT teachers are now permitted to resume private teaching provided that certain government and CNHC conditions are met. Links to details: Government, CNHC, CNHC, CHNC update 20 July.

I have contacted teachers in this area and have posted a page on this website with a list of teachers who are available for lessons.

 

10/7 If you haven't seen them yet, I keep hearing that the AT & Education conference videos are well worth a look.

 

2/7 Several people have sent me emails expressing their appreciation for Emily's presentation on scoliosis, posted at the bottom of the video/audio page. Sue Fleming sent me this link to a very clear webpage with information about Prof Galen Cranz's videos about her own experience of scoliosis and of how her training as a teacher of the AT affected this. Also, someone mentioned Richard III today, whose severe scoliosis was confirmed with the discovery of his remains under a car park in Leicester in 2012.

 

28/6 I have been asked about STAT Student Membership. Membership costs £58/year and there is a list of the benefits and information on how to apply near the bottom of this page. I think that MATTS students are probably entitled to join now (possibly at a somewhat reduced rate due to Covid), although you can also choose to wait until we are able to reconvene.

The benefits of a STAT-approved training course are listed on the STAT website here.

 

27/6 The comprehensive notes that accompany Sue Fleming's game on the video/audio page include the references to the singing and the anatomy books mentioned in the class.

 

18/6 In the class today someone asked about when AT teachers will be permitted to resume work. STAT has just sent out an email confirming that we are still not allowed to do so and that we do not yet have a date when this will change. There was a discussion about online teaching and I have written about my views on this here and here. I accept that some teachers may have more nuanced views. The book on singing with drawings of the muscles involved is by Husler and there is a copy in my library.

 

17/6 A date for your diary. We will be having a special guest in the Thursday Class on 2nd July. Emily Bancroft, daughter of Sallie (anatomy lectures!) Bancroft will be joining us to teach us about scoliosis, a common condition and one that it is very important for AT teachers to know about. You can find more information about Emily, scoliosis and her talk here.

 

16/6  The STAT "Alexander in Education" Conference, due to take place in July, will instead take place online. The presenters will record their workshops and have them uploaded to a dedicated YouTube channel which will launch on the 4th July, the date of the original conference. Everything is completely free and videos will be available to view online thereafter. Here is a link to an "advertising trailer" for the conference and click this link for information and to join the mailing list and to sign up for the conference. Note that this is also a resource website for AT teachers working in educational establishments.

 

12/6 These are the two slides from Sallie's anatomy lecture on Wednesday that Malcolm said (right at the end of the video) that every teacher and trainee should print out and put up on their wall!

 

11/6 Thank you to everyone who came to our classes this week. There were 19 of us on Wednesday and 35 on Thursday. I have posted most of the video and audio clips of the classes and will post the rest shortly.

 

11/6 Here's the link to the semi-supine page on the Mouritz 'Companion to the AT' website mentioned in the class today. This website by Jean Fischer (who has skilfully edited so many of the classic books on the AT and all of FM's books) is carefully researched and beautifully presented and is an important AT resource.

I've listed a few other AT resource websites on my links page, although there are others that I have yet to add.

 

9/6 Ted Dimon is offering a new series of 8 lectures, starting on 15 June. Full details here.

 

9/6 At one point in one of the classes recently I spoke about the potential hazards of using Directions based upon concepts that were false, the famous one being that "my head is a balloon", in direct opposition to the truth of the matter, that your head is quite extraordinarily heavy, 10-13 lbs (4.5 - 6 kg) in the average adult.

I pointed out that Walter would often say that we suffer from enough delusions already and ought never deliberately to seek to add to them!

Today, at the encouragement of Alex Murray, I was re-reading the wonderful chapter in Frank Pierce Jones' book 'Freedom to Change' (it is one of only 4 books not written by FM on the MATTS reading list and there are several copies in the MATTS library) called 'Notes on Teaching', that he wrote at the end of his life. I quote; "The purpose of lessons is to sharpen the kinaesthetic sense and to increase self-knowledge and self-control. The purpose is not to help the pupil develop his fantasy life. To imagine, for example, that your head is a balloon (which it certainly is not) is to get further away from reality than you already are and to reduce your chances of ever observing the head relation for what it is and does".

 

6/6  Anyone with an interest in riding - or even without an interest in riding - might like to take a look at this wonderful film of horse and rider from the late 1800s on the Murray's website. If you read the accompanying article, you will understand much better what is going on, both here and in "hands on the back of the chair".

 

6/6  The "Shaw Swimming Method" was developed by AT teacher Steven Shaw. Essentially, it is the application of the principles of the AT to swimming. You can get an idea of his work from these links: 1, 2, 3 & 4. He has just sent out a long email with much more information about his work during the 'lockdown', too much to reproduce here. If you would like to see it, email me and I will forward it to you.

 

5/6  Thank you to everyone who came to the classes this week. There were 16 of us on Wednesday and 30 on Thursday. Video and audio of this week's classes has now been posted.

 

1/6 The head leads and the body follows - in this wonderful video of a cheetah running.

 

28/5 Video and audio of this week's classes has now been posted. I hope you all have a good week!

 

21/5 You can find the latest Statnews online here. Malcolm has several articles in this edition.

 

20/5 The video of Monday's Zoom AT and science symposium (that was recommended in the class on Wednesday by those who have seen it) is available online here.

 

18/5 Robin Simmons, who trained with Walter Carrington, qualifying as a teacher in 1971, is offering an online course on the Dart Procedures and the AT, in which he (and also Joan and Alex Murray) has a longstanding interest and great expertise. Information on his Facebook page: "From May 22nd Fridays 11.00 – 11.40 Central European Time (CET), pay what you can (suggested amount $8). Any Alexander Technique enthusiast interested in the Dart Procedures or The Evolution of Movement is welcome. TO JOIN please send me your email address via a private message."

You can find out more about the Dart Procedures here, and about Robin's work with them here.

 

7/5 Another free Zoom AT and science symposium that looks very interesting will be on Monday 18th May at 5 pm. It will consist of four brief presentations followed by Q&A. You can find more details and sign up here. A video version will be available afterwards for anyone who cannot join live.

 

6/5 On Wednesday 13th May STAT Zoom lecture on the ATEAM study (AT and chronic low back pain) and on how scientific studies work is here. Recommended for teachers and students.

14/5 You can see a shortened version of the lecture on Vimeo here.

 

1/5 Malcolm's talk from 30/4, 'An introduction to MSI' (historical, philosophical, educational context) can be downloaded and viewed by clicking on this link. It's a 300 MB file and takes about 2 minutes to download on a fast broadband connection.

If you missed the Zoom class on Thursday, this talk is essential viewing for students and highly recommended for teachers. From next Thursday, Malcolm will begin reading and commenting on MSI, and I hope to be able to post these here as well. I will also post Karen's 'do nothing, change nothing, notice and observe changes that occur' semi-supine.

 

30/4 Thank you to everybody who attended the Wednesday and Thursday Classes this week. It was great to see you all, and was an opportunity for people who are far away (even in New Zealand!) to join in. There were 10 participants on Wednesday (this should rise from next week) and 28 participants on Thursday. With the consent of the speakers, I will post some of the talks from the classes on this page shortly.

 

30/4 STAT has announced that students will be able to claim up to 36 hours of virtual attendance (the 20% of class hours normally set aside for 'theoretical' work in a full-time training) for this term (and possibly more in certain circumstances) towards the minimum 1600 hours required to qualify as a teacher. Teachers can continue to claim these classes as CPD.

 

28/4 The Wednesday and Thursday Zoom classes start weekly from tomorrow, 10 am-12 pm with a 20-30 minute break in the middle.

Teachers are most welcome at both classes, although the Wednesday Classes will particularly centre around the needs of the students. If you have a reasonably modern device, the technical bit will probably be very straightforward for you.

 

22/4 You can download a photo of F.M. teaching here. Can you see the incredible contact and fluidity in his hands? They appear as if they might be arthritic, but in fact were not, and had looked that way even when he was a child.

Every first generation teacher that I asked about FM's teaching believed that he was considerably more skilled than anyone he trained, even after they themselves had 50 years of teaching experience. Perhaps that was because he worked it out for himself the hard way, although Pat Macdonald told me that he thought it was at least as much because FM dedicated almost every waking moment to working at it. Pat was probably, after Walter Carrington, the most influential of the first generation teachers. He developed a unique teaching style and was much admired for his skills. After spending six months in Israel having many lessons and visiting the training courses of teachers that Pat Macdonald trained, when I returned to England I visited his training course many times and had at least thirty lessons with him before starting my training with Walter. His particular way of working continues to exert a strong influence on the way I understand the Technique.

 

21/4 Re. Walter Carrington lectures recorded live (see below post 5/4), one of my pupils sent me this audio file, "Loosening the Grip of Fear". It gives a real sense of a 'typical' Walter lecture. Here he reads from and expounds upon Chapter Ten of 'The Universal Constant in Living'. UCL was, to quote from the Mouritz website; "Alexander's fourth and last book. It contains his most mature and consummate thoughts on what is now known as the Alexander Technique. Alexander shares with the reader knowledge accumulated in the course of more than 45 years of practical teaching experience."

 

21/4 Re. the webinar series Ted Dimon is offering, explaining the science of the primary control, there are details below as to how to access this live every Monday to Thursday for the next three weeks. Past lectures have been posted on the Dimon Institute's website here, so you can watch it without Zoom.

 

15/4 In my email to teachers (see below), I invited offers from teachers to contribute to the classes with their areas of special interest and/or expertise that were suitable for virtual meetings and relevant to the training. I have already been approached by three teachers with interesting offers that I will be very pleased to adopt. I would like to extend the same offer to students. Is there something you could contribute? 

 

11/4 Ted Dimon (very experienced AT teacher and all round clever chap) will be giving a series of talks on Zoom about how the primary control works over a three week period beginning on Monday 20 April. "This is a curriculum I've developed over many years based on my book Neurodynamics: the Art of Mindfulness in Action. We will meet Monday through Thursday, 12PM-1PM EST, for three weeks (beginning 20/4 and ending 7/5)." (Note from Peter: this is 5 pm to 6 pm in the UK).

This series will be open to everyone at no charge in order to help people continue their studies during this time." More information

Fun fact: I visited Ted's training course in New York about 15 years ago when he was running it with John Nicholls. John is certainly one of the most skilled and interesting AT teachers in the world and will probably visit MATTS at some point during your training.

 

11 - 13/4 I have now sent out an email to all MATTS teachers and students to update everyone on our plans for the coming term. I am planning to offer two meetings each week on Weds and Thurs mornings, for two hours each, with a 20 minute break from 29th April our original start of the new term.

The Weds class will be mostly for students and the Thurs class will be for teachers and students, as before. I do not think that virtual meetings are a viable substitute for hands-on work for new students (see here and here for why). So in the Weds class we will be sticking, mostly, to "theoretical" work and semi-supine talk-throughs. The Thurs class will include these and a small amount of practical work (Malcolm has some fun ideas). It is possible, but has not been confirmed yet (see update 5/4), that some of this can be counted towards training hours. I do not plan to charge anything for the classes initially until we see how they go, and after that I may suggest a very modest charge for students.

I am not "set against" practical virtual work, despite the fact that I believe it will mostly prove to be unhelpful, since I expect that we will be meeting again before too long and can then set right anything that has gone wrong. So if any of our students are very keen to pursue this, they are welcome to contact other training schools who provide this to request to join in with their online work. I will be posting advice about which courses to approach, and why, soon.

 

9/4 Some years ago, we took Fergus (our greyhound, and previous Thursday Class mascot) to a 'fun race' at a dog racetrack. Watching the other dogs run made Fergus beside himself with excitment, and he set up a howling sound that we never heard before or after. Some of the other dogs may have been concerned about his lack of poise (although he did reach 43 mph on the track that day) and here is one possibly preparing himself to give Fergus a 'turn' by practising 'paws on the back of a chair'. You can see at a glance that he must have had very good paws!

 

9/4 I thought it might be interesting for you if I continue with a series of introductions to the "First Generation" (trained by F.M.) teachers who were still alive when I was training. The one that I met last and knew least was Erika Whitaker. She trained on the first course from 1932, but lived in Australia until she was about 90, before returning to the UK in 1988 to live in Edinburgh near to her daughter. She gave a masterclass at the major (280 attendees) Manchester conference in 1998. Most of the other surviving first generation teachers were at the conference too, with an average age of over 80. Several future MATTS teachers were at the conference (including Gill Thorndyke, Liz Hulse - and also Sarah Rutherford!), and MATTS opened a couple of years later. When I spoke with Erika on the telephone in Australia to arrange her masterclass she told me; "Just don't stiffen your neck. That's all it is, really". Sounds simple!

Fun fact - Malcolm made a commitment to STAT Council that the conference would happen in Manchester, even though he knew that he would be spending the summer in Canada. I'll leave you to work out the rest!

Here is another short video of her being interviewed. It is interesting to hear her speak about the changes in Alexander's approach to teaching over the years as he came to discover what we all now know - that people cannot change their habitual reactions if you are rushing them or unkind. Someone who trained with F.M. earlier, informally, was Margaret Goldie, with whom I had many lessons - and she was famous (infamous?) for continuing with the earlier way of working with pupils. But that is for another post...

It is a little worrying to hear Erika describing F.M. as a dear old gentleman by the time she met him in 1928 - when he was rather younger than I am now!

 

5/4 Walter Carrington gave lectures on most training days over the course of at least 50 years. Some consisted of readings from Alexander's books and other relevant books (with extended commentary), and some were talks (usually without notes) on the principles of the Technique or on teaching the Technique. Many of these were recorded, and by the time I was training in the mid-80s Walkman tape recorders were freely available and during lectures at least five were lined up on the floor in front of him!

Some of these talks were selected to be included in the two books 'Thinking Aloud' and 'The Act of Living', but there were hundreds - if not thousands - of others. Some of these were typed up in the pre-computer days and circulated as photocopies. Here is one of them, 'On Stiffening the Neck', from 1972.

You can read Walter's obituary from 'The Times' here.

 

31/3/20 Brickies: Labourer in Bangladesh. How's this for skill?

 

28/3/20 Karen McCarthy has set up a WhatsApp group for teachers and trainees who would like to keep in touch during the 'lockdown'. Text her your mobile phone number if you want to be added to the group. Karen's number is 07502-377-199.

 

28/3/20 A potential trainee has just asked me about a reading list. I explained that, although reading is not an alternative to practical work, an understanding of the theoretical principles and a knowledge of the history of the AT is usually considered to be about 20% of the training, so it's good to get a head start. If you've not yet read Lulie Westfelt's book, it's very readable, even entertaining, and gives a good overview of the history, Alexander's personality and the theoretical principles. Do also read Majory Barlow's review of the book and her reposte to Lulie's complaints about F.M. in the Appendix.

Here's a link to the training course reading list on the old MATTS website (soon to be updated). All of these books are in the MATTS library.

 

27/3/20  Malcolm just sent me this pdf file of a charming article about Alex Murray from the most recent issue of PAN, the Journal of the British Flute Society. Musicians, and those of you who have already made the "pilgrimage" to the Murrays, as well as those who still hope to do so, should find this particularly interesting. Alex is an expert on the history of the A.T. You can find and download his book Alexander's Way, which is a major work, here.

 

27/3/20  Video - Marjory Barlow (1915 - 2006) talking about F.M., the principles of the A.T., the principles of training as a teacher and of teaching. There's plenty more by Marjory online, this is just somewhere to start. She trained with the first group of trainees, starting at the age of just 17 in 1932, and continued teaching until the end of her long life. I had more lessons with Marjory than any of the other first generation teachers apart from Walter Carrington. She was always warm and kind - and utterly dedicated to her work. Marjory's lecture reviewing Evolution of a Technique in The Use of the Self is here.

 

Walter Carrington (1915 - 2005) trained with Alexander from 1936 - 1939, and in Alexander's last several years he entrusted Walter to run his course, F.M. only coming in occasionally to give 'turns'.

Walter (and later with Dilys) trained by far the largest number of teachers of any training course, and a great many of their teachers are still teaching today, including Malcolm and myself - and of course the Murrays. Jane Osgood completed a post-graduate term with the Carringtons. The earlier MATTS trainees (such as Gillian Thorndyke, Liz Hulse, Pauline Leng) visited him in London as a group. Did you know that some of our current students also experienced Walter's work?

 

27/3/20 Have you all seen the MATTS video from 2009? Newer students won't know many of those present, but it does include Pauline and Malcolm. I wasn't there that day.

News, Information and Links of Interest for MATTS Teachers and Trainees

 

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Information about Wednesday and Thursday Zoom Classes

 

Zoom classes resume on Wednesday 6th January 2021 and continue until 1st April (half term 17/18 Feb). After that, I very much hope that the availability of a vaccine will mean that we can start our full-time training course for teachers on 28th April 2021.

 

If you do not have Zoom invitation links for the classes, please email me for them.

There will be a £6 charge for students and a £6 - £8 suggested contribution for others for the classes from next term, so we can pay a small fee to presenters (*see additional note about this below, update 4/1).

 

Video and audio clips of previous classes are posted here.

 

Both classes are suitable for students and for teachers. However, the Wednesday Classes will prioritise the needs of students whilst the Thursday Classes are intended to support and educate both teachers and students. We request that non-MATTS teachers try to come on Thursdays rather than Wednesdays if possible. If you are coming to our classes, please download, consider & edit this example risk assessment form for virtual classes: it takes 10 minutes.

 

AT teachers are now permitted to give individual lessons subject to government guidelines in Tiers 1 - 3, but not during the current lockdown (January 2021). Some teachers have been giving 'hands-on' lessons during the less restricted periods. You can find information about local teachers' availability for lessons here and the specific safety measures that I will be taking in my own practice here.