LIBRARY - Reference(s)

The Alexander Technique for Young Musicians

A Reference for Students and Teachers
Material type: 
AT Focus: 
Alexander Technique
210 x 155 mm.
ISBN 978-1798802335
Mouritz Bibliography
Topic area: 
Cover image: 
Biblio ID: 
Base ID: 
Publisher Description: 
The Alexander Technique helps musicians develop: Powerful Performance Confidence Comfort Effective Practice and Musical Awareness. This book helps students and teachers apply the Alexander Technique to their music making in practice, rehearsal and performance.


I recently got a “job” to teach AT to Academy students at the Opera House in Zurich. As the above book was so heavily promoted in the latest STATNews I eagerly sent off my £5 to Amazon in the anticipation I would get the very book I would need for my new students. I know and like both Judith and Peter and I was therefore further encouraged to get their book.

But sadly, I cannot use this book. In fact, I would advise people to avoid it. There are several things in it which bear no relation to the Alexander Technique and which are presented as if they are very much part of the Technique.

The quotation on page 2 talks about being good at concentrating. Maybe the authors have forgotten that FM Alexander was firmly against the term and repeatedly writes about the problems of concentration.

The main troubles for me are on page 6. No, directions are not subtle movements. No, directions cannot be images. I certainly use images from time to time in a very selective way in private lessons but to write images in a book as if this was standard AT is simply misguiding people. These kinds of images are exactly the kind I would NOT want any pupil of mine to consider. The head is not a balloon, nor does it go up like a rocket, or bobble about on the top of a jet of water. What on earth is anyone who knows nothing of the Technique going to make of these words? 

Writing that the head “moves away from the feet” and “the shoulders move away from each other” simply encourages doing (more “subtle” movements I suppose). The Alexander Technique is about non-doing. You give directions and orders and, as FM said “You can’t tell a person what to do because the thing you have to do is a sensation.” (In Aphorisms). And the photograph alongside these words is illustrating … what? .. I have no idea – it bears little relation to lengthening and widening the back.

There are other minor issues (where is the reference to Pedro de Alcantara’s excellent book Indirect Procedures? Instead there is this monstrously condescending and patronising baby book by Barbara Conable recommended), but my other main concern is with the series of videos that are reached through the Q code system. The lighting in these videos gives the impression that Judith has something very odd going on in her neck. Her sterno-mastoid muscles are strikingly exaggerated. Also, at the end of the “event” in the video she appears to “come out of it” as if this procedure was over so the need to keep directing is now finished. This is exactly the kind of message I would never want any pupil to receive.

It really is very disappointing that a book produced by important and significant teachers of the Technique should be so unusable.

First published in STATNews vol. 10, no. 5 (STAT, May 2020), p. 34.

Robin John Simmons. Reproduced with permission.

This edition © Mouritz 2021. All rights reserved.