The term coordination was used frequently by F. M. Alexander up to and including CCC, and infrequently thereafter.
‘Coordination’ first appears in ‘Introduction to a New Method of Respiratory Vocal Re-Education’ (1906), concerning vocalization. In 1908 Alexander leaves the specialized area of breathing and vocal re-education to a description of the coordinated use of the whole muscular system.
Description and meaning
His description of what he means by coordination is given in a number of places, e.g. in ‘The Dangers of Deep Breathing’ (1908) where he writes that ‘the not co-ordinated condition’ is when ‘the parts of the “human machine” [are] warring one against the other’, and that the coordinated condition is when ‘the parts of the “human machine” [are] ‘co-operating to bring about that condition in which “all the functions of living begin to become an intelligent harmony.”’
There are several indications that coordination is achieved indirectly, by indirect means. For example in 1908 he writes: ‘coordination comes about as a result of re-education’.
CCC contains more references to co-ordination than any of this books (‘co-ordination’ appears 93 times and ‘co-ordinate’ appears 108 times in CCC).
He emphasises that his use of the word ‘co-ordination’ relates to general coordination and not specific coordination in CCC:
The word coordination is ordinarily used at the present time in as narrow and limited a sense as the words relaxation, readjustment, re-education, etc. In view of this fact, I consider it necessary to give some idea of the more comprehensive sense in which it is used in this work.
I use the word coordination, both in its conception and in its application, to convey the idea of coordination on a general and not a specific basis. Specific coordination of any specific part of the organism, such as the muscles of the arm or leg, may be brought about by means of a direct process, during which process, however, new defects in the use of the organism in general will certainly be cultivated, whilst others already present will become more pronounced. These harmful conditions will not be cultivated if the specific coordination is brought about by means of an indirect process involving, primarily, the general coordination of the psycho-physical organism – that is to say, an integrated condition in which all the factors continue to make for satisfactory psycho-mechanical use.
This distinction between the specific and the general applies also to the terms readjustment, re-education, and relaxation as I use them in this book, for in general re-education specific defects are eradicated in process.
Coordination almost completely disappears in Alexander’s writings after CCC; there are only sporadic references to coordination in UoS, and UCL, often when just quoting other writers. The change may be partly due to the fact that, with UoS, primary control is the mechanism for bringing about coordination.
John Nicholls, in his ‘Explaining the Alexander Technique’, suggests using ‘primary coordination’ instead of ‘general coordination’.
The term ‘coordination’ is frequently used to describe the Technique in introductory material, e.g. the Technique brings about coordination, or it improves coordination, it coordinates mind and body, it coordinates intention with action, etc.
For a selection of F. M. Alexander quotations on coordination, see the Mouritz Key Concepts Library.