F. Matthias Alexander, the developer of the Alexander Technique,
was his own teacher and was fond of remarking,
“Anyone can do what I did, IF they will do what I did.”
By the end of his life, Alexander had come to the conclusion that attempts to put his teaching into practice without the help of a teacher were often not successful. Yet, he did go as far as he possibly could in providing written guidance, in his books as well as in personal correspondence, to those who were really serious about learning his Technique on their own. In a chapter entitled “Evolution of a Technique” in his third book, The Use of the Self* (originally published in 1931), Alexander described in precise detail the process he went through to solve his voice problem. This chapter and his 1945 “Preface to New Edition” of that book, in which he addressed the many problems encountered by earlier readers in attempting to teach themselves, contain useful information for anyone who wants to try going it alone.
A number of Alexander Technique teachers include Skype calls and other distance-learning methods as part of their practice and these may be well worth considering if you’re planning on learning the Technique primarily on your own. You can find a list of these teachers here.
In addition to Use of the Self, there are three much newer books which can greatly assist in learning the Technique – with or without a teacher: How you Stand, How You Move, How You Live: Learning the Alexander Technique to Explore Your Mind-Body Connection and Achieve Self-Mastery by Missy Vineyard (click here to read a review of this book), How to Learn the Alexander Technique – A Manual for Students by Barbara and William Conable, and Mind and Muscle – An Owner’s Manual by Elizabeth Langford.
Additional self-study resources can be found in Chapter 4 of Thorsons Principles of the Alexander Technique by Jeremy Chance (also available on an audio cassette tape); The Alexander Technique: First Lesson and The Alexander Technique: Solutions for Back Troubles (available in VHS and DVD format), and Not to ‘Do’ by Fiona Robb.
Additionally, there are a number of helpful, and free, online resources:
- Up With GravitySM is a simple and effective process, inspired by the Alexander Technique, for learning to harness the power of gravity to release tension from your body.
- Lessons in Self Direction – Using the Principles of the Alexander Technique – Learn about Alexander Directions, and how to take advantage of their power.
- Body Learning, the Alexander Technique Podcast has several interviews about new developments in Alexander Technique directing that can be very useful to students working on their own.
- Body Learning Blog has several blogs that contain self-study suggestions.
- Alexander Talk contains several MP3 conversations that contain suggestions about Alexander self-study.
- Constructive Control, is a short video clip featuring master teacher Marjorie Barstow in which she explains this important Alexander Technique concept, and shows how to use it. Links to other clips of Marjorie Barstow’s teaching – also helpful for Alexander Technique self study – can be found at her homepage.
- San Diego teacher Eileen Troberman has created some very useful short video clips which can be helpful for self-study
- Wilmington, Delaware teacher Imogen Ragone has created a helpful page: Twelve Lessons in Computer Poise
- I’ve Had my First Alexander Technique Lesson – What do I do Now?
- Alexander Self Study Made Even Easier – Tips for a student of the Alexander Technique
- Alexander Technique “lying down”, sometimes called “constructive rest” or “active rest” is a powerful self-help process anyone can do at home. Click here for a variety of videos, audio resources, articles and blogs related to constructive rest
- John Appleton is an Alexander Technique teacher and the developer of Posture Release Imagery. He puts forward some fascinating new self-help ideas based on imagery, which is sometimes a taboo subject in the Alexander Technique teaching world. They require some patience to understand at first, but many have found his ideas to be very helpful. Click here to read or download Posture Release Imagery resources.
- Alexander Technique Blogs, a collection of the best Alexander Technique teacher and student blogs, is another useful resource. Some of the blogs listed on this site include practical information for students working on their own.
Additional On-line material useful for working on your own:
- The Performance School Online – An excellent place to start.
- Online Posture and Movement Coaching – Learn the Alexander Technique anywhere in the world
- Self-Help Alexander
- Alexander Technique Self Discovery
- Before and After – Uncovering the Obvious
- Some Hints on Working with the F.M. Alexander Technique
- Dealing with Pervasive Habits
- The Alexander Technique: Thinking, Seeing, Knowing
If you have had some experience with learning the Alexander Technique on your own, and would like to share it with others, send it to this Email Contact and it will be posted on this page.
*The Use of the Self, and most of the other books, tapes and DVDs mentioned above are available at The Alexander Technique Bookstore (USA, the UK, and Canada) in Association with AMAZON.COM, AMAZON.CO.UK and AMAZON.CA They are all listed under “Introductions to the Alexander Technique”.