First published in AUSTAT's newsletter, In The Moment. This online edition edited by the author.
This book, subtitled 'Improve how you sit, stand, walk, work and run', is crammed full of information. Seán Carey is a highly regarded master teacher who has made an enormous contribution to our world with his research, books and teaching. His background is impressive - he had lessons with many of the first-generation teachers as well as being a PhD in social science.
Beginning in the preface, the author sets out his aims. This is more than yet another introduction to the Alexander Technique. It is directed towards '. . . students wishing to explore with their teachers, and by themselves, deeper aspects' of the work. He goes on to say, however, that anyone can read this book and benefit from it but they will get a lot more out of it if they have had some experience of the technique.
In 11 dense, informative chapters, Dr Carey undertakes to describe and analyse basic human movements and activities that all able-bodied people ordinarily perform. He writes as if he were present as the teacher, using his hands and giving verbal guidance. The student is encouraged to think through his instructions while applying what they have learnt in lessons as well as experimenting with inhibition and direction in the different activities in their life, such as running, using a mobile phone, playing sport or a musical instrument and so on.
There is an account of the development of the technique and its principles, the first training course and the formation of STAT. The text is written in an accessible style with a light, occasionally humorous, touch and illustrated with many photographs and diagrams. The author goes to considerable lengths to make his examination of the elements comprehensible, covering some of the frequently taught 'procedures' such as monkey, hands on the back of the chair and going up on the toes.
I do have some hesitation about this book, though. As far as I know, the teacher-training is fundamentally about learning how to use your hands and all that implies. Touch - manual guidance that is dependent on one's own use - along with verbal instruction, is the way we generally teach the technique on a one-to-one basis. This method of 'teaching' gives the pupil a different kind of experience of themselves, leaving the way open for change.
Without a teacher present, for most of us, I just do not see how it is possible to 'get it'. So while I could be recommending this book to a pupil with a good grasp of the technique, I think it is even better for the newly-graduated teacher as a very useful supplementary guide and reminder.
© Dinah Goodes 2016 (www.austat.org.au). Reproduced with permission.
This edition © Mouritz 2016. All rights reserved.