What’s First?

I am always asking my students to find their integration first and movement next.  I find this to be true whether you are playing an instrument, are involved in any activity or contacting your AT students with your hands.  It’s an aspect of “endgaining’ to first bring your hands to your students.  Do I think you actually need to stop to do this?  Not really.  But the process of learning this inhibitive act can often be aided by waiting. (Please note that waiting is not freezing.) It’s amazing how much can happen when you do nothing! What usually becomes clearer is how much you were heading toward your student or your activity.

Movement is multi-directional.  Balancing these directions is an interesting process. If I am moving toward my activity without acknowledging the movement in other directions as well, I am limiting the possibilities of what might occur. I don’t think it’s an issue of “coming back to yourself.”  If you do that, you may have taken directional movement away from your activity.  That’s no fun!  I seek my movements to be inclusive of all directions.  New possibilities emerge.  That’s fun.

So what do I mean by Integration First, Movement Next? Integration is, after all. movement! But it is the balancing of the movement within with the movement with-out. It’s in the waiting, or in the absence of committment to the activity that integration will occur.  It’s really that simple.  If I am equally committed to not following through with my original intention I learn so much about myself. “What if I don’t…?” is a game I play.  I only do this to recognize what I thought I needed to do if I did. Ha! The language is great, isn’t it?

March 4, 2012 at 6:48 pm Leave a comment


As Alexander teachers and students we are interested in raising our awareness about what we are up to moment by moment. The danger that can accompany this level of noticing is that students are often judgmental, deciding that a particular habit is “bad” or “wrong.” I have adopted a phrase that I tell my students is the only way for them to respond to whatever they notice: “Isn’t that interesting!” This allows them to acknowledge whatever has come up without labeling it as anything other than interesting- which it probably is! I also find that students sometimes want to attach a reason for a particular reaction. Again, if they say, “Isn’t that interesting,” the reason becomes unnecessary and allows them to move continually into the moment rather than into the past.

January 18, 2012 at 2:43 am Leave a comment


Anyone who has studied with me over the past 20 years, has heard me speak of my three neck theory.  I think it’s time I went public!  Alexander was very interested in the relationship of the head to the neck.  This is a rich area and acts as a sort of control tower for guiding the rest of us.  When I contemplate its power, I think about the neck as a connector.  We have so many senses that are housed primarily in our heads.  The neck is the pathway to connecting those senses to the rest of us.

So where do the other two necks come in?  If I look at the neck as a connector, then I see the wrists and ankles as connectors- as necks- as well.  Our contact with the world around us comes in through our tactile sense as well as those of sight , hearing, etc.  Taken in this context, the wrists and ankles act as necks.

Support for my theory: 

An Alexander teacher friend told me, upon hearing my theory, that the words in Japanese for wrist and ankle are neck of the hand and neck of the foot.  The words sound like: Kobi (neck), Te Kobi (wrist) and Asi Kobe (ankle).  I am happy for my Japanese friends out there to comment on this.

How does this enhance my teaching?

The first neck is the one we all know and love.  As an Alexander teacher I am certainly interested in its relationship to the rest of us.  But I do find that if I give attention to the other necks as well, I can more clearly help the student connect their reactions to various stimuli to the interferences they adopt in their necks.  We have a beautifully integrated system.  Information coming into one area necessarily informs the rest of us.  Give it a try.  It’s fascinating.

January 16, 2012 at 2:51 pm 5 comments

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