Sunday, June 20, 2010

FM Alexander for Posture?

Eleven years ago, I led an information session about the FM Alexander technique at a friend's house in Charleston, IL. Among the reviews were one that astounded me. "Fairly standard point about posture." was all it said.

Reflected in that comment was the sad image of a person who had been so harangued by his superiors that he couldn't hear anything else except the most irritating of them. Maybe it was his music teacher from fourth grade. Maybe an older sister. "Sit up straight! Stand up straight! Stop slumping!" might have been the incessant imperatives.

Although the FM Alexander technique has implications for posture, blood pressure, back pain, vocal production, sound production on any instrument, and other diverse realities of living, it is no more about posture than going to the movies is about burning gas in your car. While it's true that you use up gas by going to the movies, it is just a side effect.

When I was an orchestral musician, people wondered why I sat up so straight. I didn't think I sat up straight, it was just a side effect of the head/neck/back system working well. When it does, my hands worked well and freely and I felt physically comfortable with my instrument.

The vertebrate mechanism doesn't work well when you sit or stand up straight. It works well when you mind the head/neck/trunk dynamic. If you are an actor in a devious character with a twisted posture, your posture HAS to be bad, but you can still manage your head/neck/back dynamic in a constructive manner.

So I still ponder the tendency of the newcomer to jump to a conclusion about the Alexander technique as being about posture.

In England, the common equation is: Alexander = Back Pain Relief. In other places across the planet, the questionable drift is toward the equation: Alexander = Relief from Symptoms.

How about we just let it be itself? The Alexander Technique is about learning to use yourself in a conscious, constructive way!