Given F. M. Alexander’s background as a reciter and actor, it is understandable why he would emphasize the art involved in teaching his technique. ‘Art’ is here used to mean a conscious and individual approach, and the opposite of a mechanistic, impersonal, and stereotyped approach.
In his first article, in 1894, Alexander wrote he did not want to be referred to as an ‘elocutionist’ but, inspired by C. T. Hartley’s book, Natural Elocution, would rather be called a ‘natural elocutionist,’ and prefers his teaching of elocution to be referred to...
This covers criticisms of Alexander Technique teaching in general.
Criticism of Alexander’s teaching
Lulie Westfeld criticised Alexander’s teacher training course for not taking questions seriously:
Questions were not only not answered but were looked on as symptoms of bad use, and one was ‘reassured’ by being told that as one’s use grew better one would stop asking those things.
Lulie Westfeld reported on why some old pupils of Alexander did not go back to him for lessons during his USA sojourn 1940–43:
A number of them said that it...
F. M. Alexander
The direction ‘head forward and up’ is part of a series of directions constituting new means-whereby. F. M. Alexander wrote about the development of his technique in UoS that he discovered that in order to prevent his head being pulled back and down, he needed his head to go forward and up.
In CCC Alexander writes about the phrasing ‘head forward and up’ as follows:
4. Head Forward and Up
This is one of the most inadequate and often confusing phrases used as a means of conveying our ideas in words, and it is a dangerous instruction to...
The direction ‘knees forward and away’ do not occur in F. M. Alexander’s writings, but he used the directions in his teaching according to both Marjory Barlow and Walter Carrington, and used it in two of his lectures. In his Child Study Society lecture (1925) he talked of the pupil to ‘allow his knees to go forward’. In his Bedford lecture (1934) he talked of ‘allow your knees to go forward’ (several times) and ‘the knees forward and the hips back’.
Margaret Goldie, writing a piece for the children’s magazine of the...
‘Neck to be free’ is a frequent expression for the purpose of reducing excessive muscular tension around the head–neck–back area as a preliminary for the head going forward and up. Several other expressions exist in the literature. This entry considers all such expressions regarding the neck.
F. M. Alexander
Before Alexander formulated any orders or directions for the neck to relax or be free, he made references to the excessive muscular tension around the neck area.
In 1903 Alexander makes the first reference to the neck when he talks about ‘a strong...
This entry deals with Alexander Technique terminology (‘jargon’) in general. For the use of words to communicate the Technique, see Communication – Words.
F. M. Alexander on the use of words
Alexander’s terminology changed over the years as he developed his practice and theory. There are several instances of Alexander alerting the reader to the inadequacy of words, for example, when using the words ‘physical’ and ‘mental’:
I am forced to use the words ‘physical’ and ‘mental’ here and throughout my argument...
On people’s vision and concerns regarding the future of the Alexander Technique.
F. M. Alexander
Alexander mentions in several places, especially in MSI, his vision for the future, generally the development of conscious guidance and control for everybody. For example:
Looking to the future and to the development and elaboration of this method, I foresee that a race which has been educated on the lines of what I have called ‘conscious guidance and control’ will be eminently well fitted to meet any circumstance which the civilizations of the future may impose. The...
‘The right thing does itself’ is a quote attributed to F. M. Alexander. It indicates the indirect and preventative nature of the work of the Technique. By preventing what is wrong – the only thing we can know with any certainty – the right thing ‘does itself’. Prevention includes inhibition, direction and the primary control.
A. R. Alexander
The earliest reference to a statement expressing this view is A. R. Alexander being quoted in a US newspaper in 1941. He refers to teaching at the Little School, which moved to the US because of WWII.