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Papers from the 3rd International Music Conference 1998

Teaching the Alexander Technique at Music Colleges
Edited by Judith Kleinman.
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AT Focus: 
Alexander Technique
Mouritz Bibliography
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8 papers on teaching the Technique applied to playing or singing.
Contains: ‘The Space Between the Notes’ by Ron Colyer, ‘Looking at the Double Bass’ by Peter Buckoke, ‘Body Mapping for String Players’ by John Crawford, ‘Mi Soh Fa’ by Paul Chapman, ‘The Early Days of Alexander Teaching in Music’ by Elizabeth Langford, ‘A.T. and the Voice’ by Alex Farkas, ‘Means to Means, The Role of A. T. in Musical Training’ by Malcolm Williamson and ‘Work to a Principle’ by Pedro de Alcantara.


At the outset I was very disappointed with the overall presentation of this collection of conference papers. Its look and feel seem something of a souvenir issue only, complete with discrepancies of typeface and fuzzy reproduction photographs. As a body of work containing some valuable items, I think it deserves the sort of production values that would reflect this.

Amazingly, none of the illustrations bear any direct relevance to, nor support the writing itself, even when the text might benefit. For instance, in “Looking at the Double Bass” (Peter Buckoke), distinctions are made between the French and German bow hold, but quite what these might be, is never made clear, although I rather suspect one has similar choices with the bat in table tennis! Elsewhere, other specifics of instrumental technique could easily have been clarified, especially for the “non musician”, by an illustration or two. A succession of photographs of Alexander teachers exchanging work seems, in the circumstances, something of an indulgence. Others perhaps will not agree.

These irritations aside, fortunately the eight papers themselves all bring individual rewards and there is a healthy variety between the easily assimilated and the more ambitious. All are written by performer musicians cum Alexander teachers of very considerable experience and expertise.

The contributions by Paul Chapman, Ron Colyer and Malcolm Williamson, especially, provide the reader with a very “rich store of pickings” since they are written with a sure perspective on the music student’s own involvement with applying the Technique. They also reveal much about the thinking behind the art of “benign trickery” (as Alex Farkas puts it!) for getting the pupil to begin to “stop”.

“The Space Between the Notes” (Colyer) has already appeared (in a slightly modified form) in ESTA: News and Views 23, no.2 (The Journal of the European String Teachers’ Association) and “Working to a Principle” (Pedro de Alcantara) is a highlighting of some important points contained in the excellent Indirect Procedures (OUP 1997) and seems not to be, as Judith Kleinman’s introduction claims, “an excerpt from Pedro’s next book.”

This is not an overly expensive publication and the range of material within easily outweighs its rather basic production. Worth acquiring.

Proceeds from the sale of this collection are to go in part towards the cost of mounting the next Conference in December, 2000.

© Nigel M. Evans. Reproduced with permission.

This edition © Mouritz 2005-2014. All rights reserved.