Here, for instance, is an example of the text:
"Monkey – with hands on the teaching table. Standing with a good supporting distance between your two feet – lengthening and widening – go into monkey .. . And now that you have moved – check your directions again, because it is likely that you have tightened in some way."
The accompanying drawings show a person standing by the table in monkey position, an arrow parallel with the back points up and down, one below the posterior points downwards, an arrow curves around the head pointing forwards and an arrow points directly upwards from the head.
Jean Fischer explains in his foreword that Gerard Grennell made these "notes of directed activities" during his training under Walter and Dilys Carrmigton between 1989 and 1992. The activities in question are both what are now known as, Alexander’s procedures and the, many variations, innovations and fragments that were developed and are used by Mr and Mrs Carrington.
The book is written like a series of aides-mémoire, a sort of diary setting out each activity as it was explored in class. Drawings illustrate the activities, text describes each activity and the way to carry it out. The book is set out in years (lst, 2nd and 3rd) and terms and, although it may have been revised and orgahised, it looks and reads like a compilation made day by day and week by week.
This chronological approach does not represent the course that the reader should take but the course that Mr Grennell took. This is the clue to understanding the book. Since I don't think Mr Grennell was writing with an audience in mind, we do not have to treat the book as an essay about activities or a manual of how to do them. Mr Fischer, in his foreword says: "Grennell’s text and drawings provide an excellent primer, and much of the material here is an ideal springboardfor further exploration and discovery". But a primer is, an elementary introduction to a subject and I don't think that is right either. If you treat this volume instead as a student’s notes, perhaps found in the attic or at the bottom of a drawer, you will get the best out of it. You' won't try to read through the book or follow it in order. You won't try to follow the text step by step ("So – while seated – send your bottom back and down, and your head forward and up . . . Then – with your hands resting palms up on your legs, come slightly forward on to your hands. . . Observe any unnecessary activity in the legs etc..."). You will dip in and out, enjoying a drawing here and an anatomical ilIustration there. You might enjoy the drawings of spirals; you might or might not enjoy the attempts to convey directions as arrows. You will get some good ideas about variations on the theme of activities with which to practise inhibition and direction: "What is practised is not the mere physical performance of a movement (achieving a particular goal or end), but the inhibition of performing a movement in a habitual manner while maintaining the directions for the new use" (to quote that foreword again).
2003 © Stephen Cooper (AlexanderTechniqueOxford.html). Reproduced with permission.This edition © Mouritz 2005-2014. All rights reserved.
One part of the book which received nearly universal acclaim was the Foreword by Jean Fischer. Mr. Fischer presents a lucid discussion of the potential purposes, pitfalls, and provisions to be kept in mind when utilizing such a book. The lengthy subtitle gives a clear indication of the contents; A Diary Of Practical Procedures For Students And Teachers Of The F.M. Alexander Technique As Taught At the Constructive Teaching Centre (1989-1992). The directed activities (on each page of the diary, a simple activity, e.g. lifting an arm, is described with drawings and a brief text) are those used in the half hour each day on the Carringtons' course called "games". Fischer emphasizes what no book can provide: the absolute need for an individualistic approach in putting the Technique into practice; viz., 1) attention to improving the organization of the primary control in preparation for and in carrying out any activity, 2) the wisdom of breaking down each activity into smaller steps to be built up into a whole over time, 3) the necessity of clear and helpful monitoring and feedback (supplied in the Carringtons' "games" by the skilled hands and commentary of trained teachers.)
It is Fischer’s fourth point that I would like to highlight and comment on.
4) " The fact that there cannot be a uniform set of instructions for everybody means that the whole undertaking is a matter of experimentation". A collection of activities such as this diary, whether we respond positively or negatively to its particulars, can serve to remind us that it is the day-to-day manner of our choice and application of activities (procedures) in studying and teaching the Technique that determines the quality of our practice. (It is "where the rubber meets the road".) Fischer quotes several times from the Introduction to Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual in his detailed discussion of what an experimental approach and attitude entail. Each one of us, utilizing our own abilities and resources, would do well to strive to emulate Alexander as Dewey describes him here, "he has noted the actual changes brought about in individuals in response to the means which he has employed, noting the reactions due to the calling into play of established bad habits, with even greater care than the more obvious beneficial consequences obtained" (italics mine, KJA) 1. If we are truly interested in observing all that actually goes on in our experiments, might we be much less worried about being right or wrong, and much more likely to learn?
1 " I read at regular intervals Dewey’s Introduction to Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual to remind me of the high standard he has set down for all teachers of the technique." Irene Tasker
© Kevin Ahern. Reproduced with permission.This edition © Mouritz 2005-2014. All rights reserved.
Walter und Dilys Carrington haben an ihrer Schule diese Vorgehensweise fortgesetzt. Ausgehend von Alexanders Repertoire haben sie im Laufe der Jahre eine grosse Anzahl von Bewegungssequenzen entwickelt, die dem Schüler eine Möglichkeit geben, seine Fähigkeit zum Innehalten und Ausrichten anzuwenden und zu entwickeln.
Gerard Grennell, der die 3-jährige Ausbildung bei Walter und Dilys absolvierte, hat diese "games", wie sie auch genannt werden, mit Wort und Zeichnung festgehalten und zusammengestellt. Herausgekommen ist eine faszinierende Sammlung von Bewegungssequenzen, angefangen bei den "Originalübungen " über einfache Aktivitäten wie z.B. die Arme heben bis hin zum Stehen, Gehen, Treppensteigen, Krabbeln und vieles mehr. Drehungen, Spiralen, einen Stuhl anheben, auf den Fersen sitzen oder Schreiben werden genauso besprochen wie der Gebrauch der Hände beim Unterrichten. Jede "Übung" wird mit einfachen, klaren Zeichnungen dargestellt und kurzen Texten erklärt. Dabei gilt zu bedenken, dass in der praktischen Unterrichtssituation die wenigsten dieser Sequenzen gleich in ihrer Ganzheit ausgeführt werden. Vielmehr wird der Schüler, geführt vom Lehrer, eine Sequenz nur in kleinen Teilen durchgehen, gemessen daran, wie er seine Inhibition und Ausrichtung bewahren kann. "Directed Activities" bietet Lehrern und Studenten der AT eine unschätzbare Quelle an Informationen und Anregungen zum eigenen Experimentieren!
2002 © Jan Pullmann. Reproduced with permission.
This edition © Mouritz 2008-2014. All rights reserved.