I love teaching the Alexander Technique more than anything in the world.. It’s a chance for me to meet one-on-one with people, get to know what they care about, and help them solve problems related to those cares.
Years ago, I was having trouble playing the bass-it was beating me up. Helen Rea (my first Alexander Technique teacher) taught me to use a little less tension here, a little more intention this way, and it got easier. I stopped hurting myself. And, I got freer and more expansive and expressive.
Most people who come to me for Alexander lessons are hurting like I was. It seems to be the only thing that gets people to be willing to come to Alexander. It’s absolutely necessary as an Alexander teacher to address the whole person; first, how they sit in a chair or stand, then what happens as they think about approaching a task like playing an instrument, then how they move as they play.
It ends up being about more than people think it does. People who have stayed with me usually find themselves changing in many small ways throughout their lives. The playing gets better, freer. And then the pain becomes smaller, often disappearing. “pain? what pain?”
For me, there was the phase of “I don’t have to be so tense; I don’t have to hurt”; then the phase of “hey, I like playing like this; it’s more fun, and I’m playing better”; and then comes thinking about it while I’m walking the dog, or waiting in line, or hurrying up to get somewhere. Putting a bit of thought into the way I go about doing things has a calming effect, almost meditative, that I can get while in action. I find myself generally calmer, even when I took on a new career of being a dad.
So now I’m teaching others, sharing this with people who come to me for help. It feels like I’m finally making a direct contribution to individuals (not so subliminal/subtle as playing music).
Hands-I use my hands. I touch people. It’s a lot easier for people to understand the shifts in tone that go on in someone with AT when it’s communicated by hand as well as through words. It’s perhaps clearer that way. Words don’t fully describe it. Though they can help re-create the process, which feels different every time but can always move toward freedom or at least prevent getting stuck.
I enjoy this. This is my work. I knew it, recognized it when I first visited the Alexander training program in Philly. I want to connect with people, share something of value with them. And I think this is the most valuable thing I’ve ever learned. I’m grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to do this, and I would like to do more.
So tell all your friends to come to my class, already! DJernigan.com