Touch, AT, and a Pandemic

May 1, 2020 at 8:08 pm Leave a comment


Photo by Yoann Boyer on Unsplash

This article is not about how to teach or study the Alexander Technique remotely.  This is about touch.  What it means to be touched. What it means not to be touched. I had a very interesting lesson with one of my older piano students who lives alone. She said she thinks she is practicing piano more these days because touching the piano feels so good—and it’s the only kind of touch available to her right now.  It’s the only kind of touch available to her right now. Just think about that. We are touching our computer keyboards and our phones and our remote controls—and not much more than that.

What does it mean to touch? And can we truly touch something without being touched by it?  We often say that someone’s words have touched us deeply. Or we have been so moved by an artistic performance that we say it was touching. I have observed the arts community touching us all with extraordinary performances and creative solutions to ensemble playing. But I had not considered the act of touching an instrument or equating expression with touch in that way. I am grateful to my piano student for pointing this out to me.

The Alexander Technique brings mindfulness to life.  When I play the piano I may be inclined to sense my touch in relation to the expressive nature of the piece I’m playing. But isn’t it valid to sense my touch on the computer keyboard as I write this article as well?  And might that differ from my computer touch when I am irritated by something? Doesn’t that touch get reflected in the language I choose to use?  Touch and being touched. As I touch with anger or irritation I am receiving that sentiment as well.  And with my simple observation of that experience I can choose to touch differently.  And I will be touched differently. And then I will hear my anger and see the language of my email differently. And my receipt of a new touch will end up touching others differently than if I had not been listening.

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