COMPANION

Handwriting, Typing

F. M. Alexander

There is a picture of Alexander holding a pen in the slideshow on this Companion homepage. He was a keen letter writer.

In CCC Alexander describes a case with a pupil whom he recommended to take frequent breaks while writing:

A pupil of mine, an author, had been in a serious state of health for some time, and had at last reached the point where he was unable to carry on his literary work. After finishing his latest book he passed through a crisis which was described as a ‘breakdown,’ with the result that even a few hours of work caused him great fatigue and brought on a state of painful depression. From the outset of his lessons, therefore, I expressly stipulated that he should stop and make a break at the end of each half-hour’s writing, and should then either do fifteen minutes’ work in respiratory re-education, or take a walk in the open air before resuming his writing.[1]

Erika Whittaker recalls working at the Little School where the children were they were taught that it is more important to ‘keep their “work” going than it is, say to write’. And that cardboard models were made of letters in order to feel the shape before writing.[2]

Walter Carrington

Walter Carrington remembers that Alexander ‘strongly advocated that if you were going to write you should use a writing slope, because he wanted you to sit fairly upright, and fairly erect, and if you had a flat surface you would be looking down the sides of your nose and he didn’t recommend you to do that.’[3]

Walter Carrington reports on Margaret Goldie’s memories of teaching writing at the Little School:

Writing was done on sugar-bag paper with crayons. First of all, large circles and straight lines, then large, rounded letters, but soon joined up. FM considered that it was important to learn to join the letters because he thought that unjoined letters made for disjointed thought.[4]

Walter Carrington discusses some of the difficulties involved in writing with a pen and Alexander’s approach to writing in Explaining the Alexander Technique.[5]

Walter Carrington frequently included writing as a game (‘directed activity’) on his training course. The surviving descriptions are on sitting, holding a pen or pencil.[6]

Articles

  • ‘Handwriting and the Alexander Technique’ by Jonathan Drake considers the sitting, the table, the position of the paper, the mechanics of the arm involved, and on pen-holding.[7]
  • ‘Writing and the Alexander Technique’ by Nicola Hanefeld relates her experiences of applying the Technique to writing – using a keyboard – a large dissertation.[8]
  • A manuscript titled “Appendix B – Not Used”, attributed to Irene Tasker (possibly for inclusion in UoS) contains sections on handwriting.[9]

See also Repetitive strain injury.

References

[1] Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. Matthias Alexander, (Mouritz, 2004), p. 124.
[2] ‘Alexander’s Way’ by Erika Whittaker in The Alexander Journal no. 13, Autumn 1993 (STAT), p. 9.
[3] ‘The Use of the Eyes’ Walter Carrington interviewed by Brigitte Cavadias and Marjory Fern, in Direction 1999. Also in An Evolution of the Alexander Technique by Walter Carrington, Dilys Carrington (Sheildrake Press, 2017), p. 196.
[4] ‘Memo: Memories of Margaret Goldie’ by Walter Carrington in An Evolution of the Alexander Technique by Walter Carrington, Dilys Carrington (Sheildrake Press, 2017), p. 262.
[5] Explaining the Alexander Technique by Walter Carrington, Seán Carey, (Mouritz, 2004), pp. 163–64.
[6] Directed Activities by Gerard Grennell (Mouritz, 2002), pp. 51–53, 114.
[7] ‘Handwriting and the Alexander Technique’ by Jonathan Drake in The Alexander Journal no. 16 edited by Adam Nott (STAT, 1999), pp. 27–33.
[8] ‘Writing and the Alexander Technique’ by Nicola Hanefeld in STATNews vol. 11, no. 1 edited by Jamie McDowell (STAT, January 2021), pp. 23–24.
[9] Irene Tasker – Her Life and Work with the Alexander Technique by Regina Stratil (Mouritz, 2020), pp. 308–11.
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