The Centre for the Alexander Technique

Pete’s Blog – Tue 10 May 2016

Photograph of Peter Ribeaux, Centre for the Alexander Technique
It’s been a while….

The subject was getting psychophysical ideas across verbally as well as examining the thought processes necessary for improving one’s own use. Alexander recognised the difficulties with words notably in the preface to CCCI. Many people have attempted by means of alternative wordings to overcome these difficulties and in everyday teaching most teachers strive to find forms of words to achieve the right effect. The phrase “secondary directions” comes to mind. There are at least three versions of what this means. The first simply means the same as the primary directions but in different words – “neck back and up” instead of “head forward and up”. The second refers to subsidiary directions subsequent to the primary directions – “to allow the elbows to go away from the shoulders and the wrists away from the elbows”. The third refers to the giving of consent to a movement subsequent to the establishment of the primary directions. I am referring now to meanings in common usage in the Alexander world rather than anything precise stated by Alexander.

Why the interest in these directions? Simply because they describe the explorations possible for the individual. Which directions work? We cannot know in advance, just as Alexander did not know in advance that he needed to “let the neck be free to let the head go forward and up to let the back lengthen and widen etc” until he had verified this. Likewise each of us needs to check out which horse to back on our own behalf and to give the best instruction to our pupils.