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End of Semester Blues?

Photo by alexey turenkov on Unsplash

Well-we have nearly made it to the end of another semester. The final weeks can often bring extra stress. The tools you all learn from your Alexander Technique lessons can help manage that stress.  Did I say “manage”?  I did.  Because if you think there’s a magic button to press and it will all disappear, you’re mistaken.  What happens is that our relationship to the stressful situations can change.  How? By finding your support and your simple primary movement pattern.

Acknowledging the stress that you feel can also go a long way.  The acknowledgment removes conflict from you.  Denying there’s a stressful situation when there is one, creates conflict. Alexander spoke of “psychophysical unity.” Acknowledging the truth of your emotions can direct you toward psychophysical unity.

If you have taken the AT for Musicians class or another AT class at Boston Conservatory at Berklee, then you know all about this.  And you know of other tools you can use now too.  For example, the simple act of extending your exhale beyond what’s typical for you will stimulate a nice full inhale.  A great tool this time of year.

The end of the semester and all the balls you’re juggling presents the perfect opportunity to practice your Alexander Technique. You can do this!!!

April 25, 2022 at 11:40 pm Leave a comment

Science and the Alexander Technique

Sometimes I wish I spent more time investigating the science behind the Alexander Technique. For me, the experience I had with it was all I needed to convince me that it had merit. I do appreciate others who have devoted their time, energy and resources toward the scientific route. We need you! This morning I opened my email and found the Science and AT newsletter waiting for me. In it was a link to a study on violinists and violists and AT. This is a serious peer-reviewed study. SO, in the interest of spreading the scientific word, here you go:

February 14, 2022 at 3:36 pm Leave a comment

Here we are

Here we are……

Here we are again, starting another semester in a pandemic. What strikes me now is how we have habituated, to some degree, to it all. We may not want to wear a mask, but we do it–and we no longer forget to do it. We may not want to get tested every week, but we do it–and we don’t forget to do it. It doesn’t take long to form a habit. Some of our habits are life-saving. We know which way to look when we cross the street. But if we travel and need to look in the opposite direction, we learn to do that rather quickly. The Alexander Technique allows you to be conscious of your choices moment to moment. In that way, we can allow our habits to guide us when we wish. Or we can intercept them and look the other way to cross the street.

For some, the habits around mask-wearing and test-taking have not really formed. What a great opportunity to observe yourself in response to the world! Do you almost forget to wear a mask, but then become conscious of the necessity to do so? Do you almost forget to take that test? Our conscious awareness is close to the surface–close enough to observe and then to make choices. As we return to school this semester, let’s recognize the opportunity we are being given to observe ourselves. It may be the silver lining in all we are facing now. I know, the glass is always half full for me…

Have a productive and safe semester everyone!

January 11, 2022 at 10:19 pm Leave a comment

Welcome back to Alexander Technique IN PERSON!

Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

This morning I was listening to a podcast on BodyLearning Podcasts. It was recorded a little less than a year ago by my colleague Bob Lada.  Bob teaches the Alexander Technique (AT) at Berklee in his Awareness for Musiciansclasses. Bob also teaches on the Alexander Technique teacher- training course I direct here at Boston Conservatory.  Bob’s podcast is all about how AT can help musicians. One statement really stood out for me.  It’s something I have encountered before but have not thought about much lately.  It’s the use of that word technique. Unfortunately, Alexander teachers use this word in relation to Alexander’s discoveries. And it is the same word musicians use to describe the manner in which they play their instruments. For this reason, some musicians assume we will be challenging their instrumental technique by introducing a new technique. Ahh—let’s be honest here.  This is sometimes true but most often not true.

The technique we use in AT is a technique for how you use yourself. And how you use yourself has consequences that affect how you play your instrument.  Let me give you an example. Let’s say you are a string player and every time you reach a particular shift in a piece, your intonation is off, or your tone is not consistent. An AT teacher is going to look at how you are balanced in yourself and in gravity as you make the shift.  Because this spot has troubled you for a while, you are now more likely to have a reaction to its approach.  That reaction is probably causing the difficulty. You may not realize that you shift your weight to a particular leg each time or create unnecessary tension in your back and neck. Your fear of making the same mistake again causes you to tense in preparation for the passage. AT can teach you not to react with extra tension and to allow free movement to continue throughout the phrase.  Your AT teacher will help you notice your reaction and offer you tools that help you choose a different response. And if verbal instruction is not clear enough, the AT teacher is trained in using their hands in such a way as to facilitate a non-habitual response. It is a gentle guidance—not manipulative at all. This process will not interfere with whatever technique your instrumental teacher has offered you.  It will more likely allow you to carry out your instrumental teacher’s instruction more easily.

I did say I was going to be honest.  If your instrumental teacher has asked you to intentionally tense yourself to brace for that moment, then we will have a disagreement on our hands.  But it is rare for anything like that to happen. And since this work is about choice, you always have the choice to change instrumental teachers or discontinue your AT lessons!

Fear not the technique of Alexander Technique.  We are here to help you and work with you. Join our classes and discover for yourself what the possibilities are.

Welcome back, everyone!

September 6, 2021 at 4:11 pm 2 comments

Guest Blog from Eliza Mallouk

 “Once upon a time, when women were birds, there was the simple understanding that to sing at dawn and to sing at dusk was to heal the world through joy.  The birds still remember what we have forgotten, the world is meant to be celebrated.”                                  Terry Tempest Williams  

From my first reading of When Women Were Birds, Fifty-Four Variations on Voice, I have always loved this quote which is from the final chapter of her memoir.

I think what appeals to me about the author’s words is the simplicity of the instruction “to sing at dawn and to sing at dusk” …that this would be enough to heal the world through joy.

Wow! Really? Not so sure.

All one has to do these days is turn on the news and hear of the deaths from the pandemic, violence, devastation of land and resources, poverty and homelessness, racial and social inequities, greed and lack of conscience of people in power….heartbreaking news throughout the world and we can be stricken to our knees in despair and inaction.

How can we recover ourselves from the overwhelm of collective trauma that permeates the air that we breathe. How can we care for ourselves in ways that help us hold and heal the world.

Here’s what helped me with this question this past week:

I held my brand new, one day old granddaughter, Violet, and I was instantly brought to a state of wonderment and awe. The only choice it seemed to me was to be fully present in this moment of sweet connection. New life! Her fragile being nestled in my arms or draped over my shoulder…all of my mothering instincts gently engaged…love pouring from me to her. After my visit, I walked and felt full with relief and yet grounded and at peace that all had gone well with labor and delivery and that my daughter and her husband were entering a new chapter of their lives together. All good news. 

Being conscious and present to all of this was a choice. It was and is an act of self care. A recovery of myself and in this recovery a small step towards healing the world.

Another story…

The other morning (and it could have been any morning) I awoke early, came down to our family room where each day I sit with my coffee and look out at our beautiful garden, lush with the colors of lilies, hydrangeas, lavender and cone flower.

When I opened the sliding glass door to bring in the morning air, several mourning doves that I hadn’t seen took to flight from the patio! The sound of cooing and flapping wings startled me into delight and awe. In an instant, I was brought to my senses and a deep appreciation of our natural world. I went about the rest of my day a tad more slowly, aware and grateful. To move through my day with this attitude is an example of care of the self, care of my true self, my essence and a small step towards healing the world.

The principles of the Alexander Technique have guided me throughout my life journey. On any given day and depending on who I am speaking with, my definition shifts and changes. The simplest version…or today’s version is that AT teaches me to do all that I do with more ease, presence and gratitude. In this process habits of physical and emotional tension, thoughts and behaviors that no longer serve my wellbeing or the wellbeing of others dissolve. There is more room within me for healthy choices, clear thinking, self compassion, joy, gratitude and love.

“The world is already split open, and it is in our destiny to heal it, each in our own way, each in our own time, with the gifts that are ours” 

“To sing at dawn and to sing at dusk is to heal the world…”

Perhaps it CAN be this simple.

July 7, 2021 at 6:16 pm Leave a comment

But Before You Do….

photo by geandann via unsplash

There seems to be an endless search for the best definition of the Alexander Technique. Ask 10 AT teachers to define it and you may get 10 different answers—or you will get answers that emphasize different aspects of the technique. The reason for this is simple.  Using the Alexander Technique can have an impact on every aspect of our lives. For those who seek relief from physical pain, the emphasis may initially be on the physical aspects. We may talk about how your head balances on your spine so that learning to decompress it will result in a lengthening of your spine often resulting in a relief from discomfort. Perhaps the pain has become chronic which will likely mean that a story around it has become your story of who you are. If you believe that story and it accompanies you everywhere you go, that will result in a pattern of movement reflective of that story.  Can we learn to change the story?  Yes. Whether we emphasize the physical or the psychological or the spiritual, we are talking about a whole person interacting with the world.  No one part can exist without the rest of us.  Any attempt to separate ourselves into parts will not be successful. 

But no matter what your initial approach may be, change takes place in a window of opportunity. Sometimes that window is wide open with lots of time to ponder our choices.  And sometimes that window is barely cracked open with just enough time and space to change our minds, change the direction of our path, recognize the possibility of a new choice.  Early AT lessons are about opening that window-even just a crack.  I find myself offering suggestions to my students to move– but with the caveat “but before you do….”  It is mindless action that can cause our difficulties. But before you do is just enough of a suggestion to not forge ahead into the transition to do something.  Transitions are opportunities for change.  Transitions can become those windows where we make new choices. So go ahead, move from reading this article to scrolling to something else.  But before you do……

May 21, 2021 at 6:09 pm 1 comment

Which Road to Take

I have been reading the latest journals in my AT for Musicians classes.  The questions the students answered involved insights about our Body Mapping section of the curriculum, responses to the breath work we are doing, and general reactions to sections in the book they are reading. Certain responses have really moved me.  They are not the ones on particular realizations of how our arms are connected to our back—as important and life changing as that can be. It’s the stories of recognizing how hard we can be on ourselves, on how self-compassion can go a long way toward musical improvements. 

We are so driven to get things right that we are often oblivious to the ways we are sabotaging ourselves.  Alexander spoke of “endgaining,” our blind focus on the end result we wish to achieve without enough attention on the process that allows us to reach that goal. Endgaining is a huge part of our existence in today’s society in general —  and its role in our ability to survive in the music world is no different.  We would be crazy not to recognize the importance of reaching certain musical goals, sometimes in record time.  But I believe we can still attend to the process.  Actually I believe it’s critical to attend to the process. That’s the way we can avoid the unlearning that often becomes necessary when we rush to the finish line.  What’s that old saying?  Haste makes waste. What is clear to me is that endgaining and self-judgment/criticism go hand in hand.  And simply put, self-compassion is the speedy route to reaching our goal. We won’t waste precious time on self -judgment and will deal directly with self -improvement.  This does not mean we don’t need to critique ourselves honestly.  It just means we do so with forgiveness and compassion so that we can get on with our work. 

I have a huge virtual folder called the Isn’t that Interesting folder. I put things in there all the time when I notice something I’m doing or not doing that I start to wonder about. The tendency to want to analyze these things is certainly interesting. But sometimes I just need to realize THAT I’m doing something—not WHY I’m doing it. I have compassion for the WHY. But I can pop this thing into the virtual folder so that if I choose, I can ponder it later. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve decided with certainty why I have created a particular behavior only to decide with more certainty maybe a year later that that was not the reason why.  Hmmm.  Isn’t that interesting? In the meantime, what’s most useful is that I am able to choose to do or not to do something I have done many times before.  The choice empowers me. The questioning of why does not always empower me.  The why may lead toward more compassion—and that’s useful.  But needing to get to the bottom of it does not seem so useful to me.

I suggest we consider our choices with all the possibilities before us. I suggest we have compassion for our stumbles along the way. I suggest we celebrate those stumbles as the process toward our achievements. And I suggest we do all this with the joy of music making that brought us to this profession in the first place.

March 15, 2021 at 4:32 pm Leave a comment

New Beginnings

Photo by Dom J on

It’s hard to believe we will embark on another semester online in a short time.  While some of the BoCo and Berklee students will have their classes in-person, the Alexander Technique classes will still be remote. It has been extremely rewarding to teach online because it takes the emphasis off of the hands-on work. I have always told students that my hands are only there to clarify their Use of themselves. They notice more about themselves as a result of my hands being there. The real changes come from the student.  Online teaching has reinforced that in such a concrete way. 

In addition to the AT for Musicians classes (Debi Adams), and AT for Dancers (Shannon Jones), and now Alexander Actors (woohoo!) (Jessica Webb), we have Awareness for Musicians at Berklee (Bob Lada) AND the sessions that are available through Health and Wellness.

The many services offered through Health and Wellness include Alexander Technique lessons with Bob Lada or Diane Hovenesian. These lessons are available to students for no charge, twice during the semester. Here is the link for more information.

Please take care of yourselves, whether pursuing AT through school, or pursuing something else outside of school.  These are times that especially call for added attention to our health and sanity. For more information on Alexander Technique at Boston Conservatory at Berklee contact Debi Adams

January 15, 2021 at 9:42 pm Leave a comment

Where are we hiding?

photo by Sharon McCutcheon/Unsplash

I have spent the last several weeks teaching the breath work of F.M. Alexander and Carl Stough. Whenever I do this, I feel extremely calm and peaceful.  This time around I was also reading the book Breath by James Nestor. Clearly I was thinking about breath all the time. I added a daily practice of breath work to my schedule and found I could sleep more peacefully. 

But what happened yesterday as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were officially announced as the winners of the election was surprising—even to me.  I felt a complete breath.  How is this possible when I had been paying so much attention to my breath already?  Clearly, the stress of the election and the angst over the current president’s decisions and behavior, especially during this pandemic, affected me more than I had realized.  

Psychophysical unity is the term Alexander used to describe the interconnectedness of us.  We may see parts and talk about parts of ourselves, but we are operating as a whole all the time. During this time I had not felt whole.  And I didn’t even realize it. What a relief to breathe!  To really feel the breath with no hidden anxiety. How grateful I am to have practiced the breath work as I did, because who knows how compromised my breathing may have been otherwise?  And still, I was in some ways hiding from myself. 

What is the lesson in this? I guess it’s that there is always the opportunity to learn more and to do less. It is the lesson of curiosity– of always being curious enough to discover our deeper, hidden secrets. I have often said that our breath is the most honest barometer of how we are doing.  I guess that statement’s a keeper!

November 9, 2020 at 12:19 am Leave a comment

AT Teacher-Training Course goes remote!


So many people are learning about the value of studying the Alexander Technique online. Well– there is value in training to teach online also. You will gain the ability to:

  • see your students with greater clarity
  • avoid teacher dependence
  • learn how to create community online
  • foster self care—for you and your students
  • recognize the magic of reaching people in their own spaces
  • and so much more!

Our faculty just met to plan our remote curriculum. And we are excited!

Meet our faculty:

Debi Adams

Jamee Culbertson

Bob Lada

Eliza Mallouk,

Aline Newton

For more information or to register visit the website


August 12, 2020 at 7:41 pm Leave a comment

Taking a Step Back

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Alexander Technique study requires a witnessing of our actions. When we are able to take a brief moment -a millisecond- to honestly observe our reactions, we are gifted with sight, with insight into us. It is a humbling profession. Sometimes we take a millisecond and sometimes we are afforded more time than that. Using that time to truly see ourselves so that we can truly see the world around us can bring us to profound insights, personal transformation and growth.

The current coronavirus pandemic has resulted in my being furloughed by the Boston Conservatory at Berklee. Is this a gift that will allow me to take that step back to observe deeply? If I perceive it that way then it will be. I have the choice to respond to this circumstance, as I might respond to others that are less complicated. I will take that step back to see myself being myself with all the truth that shows up. Will I like what I see? I don’t know. But hopefully I’ll be back to tell you in the fall. In the meantime, my Alexander colleagues will lovingly administer this page. I’m sure you will enjoy their posts. Stay well! Take a step back…..

(Please note: this post was prepared for the Alexander Technique at Boston Conservatory at Berklee Facebook page.)

May 15, 2020 at 2:33 pm Leave a comment

Touch, AT, and a Pandemic


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.

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

Summer Alexander Technique Retreats



As we navigate this new world we live in, everything is becoming an online experience.  So many people have questioned the feasibility of learning the Alexander Technique (AT) online.  After all, it has historically been a hands-on teaching. This may surprise you, but learning and teaching the AT online is not only doable—it has advantages. Recently in my AT for Musicians classes at the Conservatory, I asked the students about the benefits of learning online.  As far as learning AT, they agreed that being able to have class at home meant that they were applying the AT principles more often in their lives than they had done while taking the class at school.  Fascinating– and not surprising when you think about it.  I also believe there is an empowerment that they did not expect.  There is much less sense of needing me there to help them.  I have always weaned my students from hands-on work.  So at this time of the semester we would have been relying much less on hands-on experiences than we did in January. But this empowerment came a little early and it works. Another benefit I had not previously considered is that some students may be reticent about the hands-on aspect of the teaching.  By studying online any fear of being touched is obliterated.

Now we are approaching the summer.  Usually there are several retreats to explore.  But the coronavirus pandemic means these retreats will be online.  Not “but”—AND! What an opportunity to study this amazing work, to learn about the patterns of behavior you may not have even known you had — and to learn that they need not be permanent.  I am teaching on several retreats.  You can visit my workshop page for more information and you can Google Alexander retreats to find more.

Happy AT study!

April 24, 2020 at 2:18 am Leave a comment



Like so many of my colleagues across the globe, I have been plunged into the world of teaching remotely for a good part of this semester.  Fortunately, I have taught the Alexander Technique (AT) via Zoom before– so I felt equipped to do so. But these are not the usual circumstances under which I have taught it. And the circumstances are the main event. A predominant pattern I’m seeing is that students feel as though they should be really productive.  They have more time and fewer distractions. Doesn’t that translate into more practice time? If only it were that simple.

One of the fundamental tasks of our organism is to find safety.  While our recent past has not required us to work very hard at that, we are now faced with safety –searching as a full-time job. It takes a lot of energy to feel safe which means there is little energy left for our to do list. I happen to believe we need to nurture that part of us that is lost, tired, confused, sad, and generally not feeling safe. Maybe nesting—cleaning out my closet and baking cookies—will make me feel like I am creating a comfortable environment at home. My senses want to be filled with things that are soothing. Seeing a clean space, smelling baked goods, listening to music—this will all help me orient to my new not-normal. These things will help me make peace with where I am. They will help define where I am in ways that are acceptable to me—and are within my control. If I do not contribute to creating this environment, I will feel out of control and terribly conflicted over trying to do things I think I should do in a space where I don’t really know where I am.

In AT we sometimes use a bit of jargon e.g. psychophysical unity. This is a word that attempts to express our wholeness rather than all the parts often used to describe our experiences. We are not a mind separated from a body.  We are one person with all the fascinating attributes that make us “us.”  One of my favorite AT articles is one written years ago by David Gorman called The Rounder We Go, The Stucker We Get.  

In this article Gorman describes the moment we are naturally brought to conscious awareness by some symptom—pain, tension, anxiety etc.  When this happens we try to change things to make the moment feel better.  But because we are not deeply acknowledging the reality of what is happening in this moment, we are creating conflict in our system.  Psychophysical unity is not possible.  Accepting what is happening because it is the reality of the moment brings us into harmony with all our seeming disparate parts—psychophysical unity.

What do I advise?  Clean your closets, bake your cookies, don’t practice or don’t practice the music you think you’re supposed to be practicing.  Create your safe space. I am sure that the passion you have for creating art will be revealed again and that you will have all the necessary energy you need to do what you want to do. Embrace the new not-normal, accept that it is not normal.  And please have compassion for yourself as you do so.

April 3, 2020 at 9:42 pm 6 comments

Vertical Buoyancy


Photo by Diego Madrigal from Pexels

Sometimes while teaching, a phrase will show up that truly meets the needs of the moment.  And sometimes that phrase becomes part of your regular lexicon.  I was working with a student who was claiming great length from the inside.  I was concerned that he might soon add some effort to his uprightness.  That’s when we started talking about balancing the horizontal pulls in life with our sense of verticality. But “vertical buoyancy” seemed most appropriate.  Now I am using the term all the time.  I love what it implies.  Often when I talk about the relationship of our head to the rest of us, I show images of lily pads.  Our head rests on the top of our spine as a lily pad rests on water—totally supported and totally movable. It gives us that vertical buoyancy!

March 25, 2020 at 10:01 pm Leave a comment

What is the Alexander Technique at Boston Conservatory at Berklee?


The Alexander Technique (AT) is an investigation into human reaction.  And what makes that exciting is that we investigate OUR OWN reactions—not just the generic ones.  We learn to observe ourselves in such a way that we become free to choose responses outside of our habitual network.  And that experience can be life changing!

At Boston Conservatory at Berklee, we spend most of our time investigating responses to performance situations—whether a studio class, an audition, or a performance, we explore the best ways to prepare for these events so that we can be the best artist we can be under potentially stressful situations.

In addition to the work we do with musicians, dancers and actors here, we also train AT teachers to carry this work into the world. Having the skills to teach this work can be a perfect complement to a performing career. It keeps your self-awareness honed; it spreads this work to a population that understands and fully appreciates its usefulness; it provides additional income to what can be a financially volatile career.

We are fortunate to have several faculty and staff at Boston Conservatory and Berklee who are trained as AT teachers.  Let’s introduce you:

Debi Adams

Sara Goldstein Gall

Shannon Lee Jones

Diane Hovenesian

Jessica Webb

Paul D’Agostino

Bob Lada

Here are our additional teachers on the AT training course

Jamee Culbertson

Eliza Mallouk

Aline Newton

We also have faculty currently in the AT training course who will soon be added to this list.

We hope you will enjoy our posts.

Here’s to the exploration!

March 18, 2020 at 9:40 pm Leave a comment

Rosh Hashanah and AT

I am a teacher of The Alexander Technique.  What’s that, you ask? Well—it’s the most simple and complicated teaching around. On one hand, it involves a heightened awareness of our reactions to the stimuli of life. This can be as simple as noticing a muscular tightening when I open my car door. Or it can be noticing a similar tightening or holding of breath when I encounter a particular person at my workplace. Learning to inhibit, or intercept habitual responses is interesting enough.  There is a richness of possibilities available in these moments that often comes as a surprise.  Who knew so many choices were available—simply by not reinforcing my usual response? And how do I allow for a new response during the most charged moments of my life? Deyanu—it would have been enough. For many it is more than enough to examine these parts of ourselves, to become intimate and honest with our own responses, and learn to allow for new ones to emerge.


But there is more. My mentor, Tommy Thompson, talks about “The Personal Narrative and the Universal Narrative.” Our personal narrative is the story we tell ourselves.  It is the belief we have about us—our potential, our limitations, our interpretation of all the events of our lives that have brought us to the current moment. It is a personal signature that is reflected in our patterns of behavior. It often causes us to operate in conflict with our inherited design.  That design is the Universal Narrative—the story of our evolutionary process. The “us” that lives beneath the created self is the neutral story—a story without judgment, a story without conflict, a story without preconceived notions of what we can or cannot be. We can use the Alexander Technique to tap into that universal narrative by listening deeply to those moments when we suspend our personal narrative in favor of what might show up instead.


As I participated in today’s Rosh Hashanah service I was somehow brought to these ideas of personal and universal narratives. My concept of God is Oneness.  I read the Shema, a defining Hebrew prayer, and interpret it as “our God is One—Oneness–unification of all.”  Our current struggle with climate change exists because we have responded as a people from our Personal Narrative, not the Universal Narrative that would protect us all from our own poor decisions.  The political struggles today are clearly a product of Personal Narratives.  Everyone looks out for number one and in so doing negates the oneness that would unite us in our decisions.  At the same time, every person responding from their Personal Narrative CAN inhibit that response, listen deeply in moments of high tension, release the muscular hold we have on ourselves and in so doing find those remarkable possibilities we never even knew existed. Cain y’he ratzon—may it be so.







October 3, 2019 at 12:49 am Leave a comment

Is direction necessary?

It’s a question that I revisit often.  For now, I believe that inhibition is all that is necessary for us to function with ease and simplicity. It seems to me that direction happens –as a result of the inhibitive process. I have read The Evolution of the Technique countless times. Each time I am drawn to two spots.  One is when FM  realizes that if he prevents the pulling back of his head, then he does not depress his larynx and audibly suck in air. It is the inhibition of pulling his head back that results in his improved use. It’s what he does not do, not what he does that helps him. Then he attempts to put his head forward, etc.  Things don’t go well after that –until the second spot I’m drawn to.  This is near the very end of the chapter when he decides that he can make a fresh decision whether to speak or not or do something else like raise his hand instead. As my teacher, Tommy Thompson, puts it, “he is equally committed to not following through with his original intention.” Inhibition, no?

I also think about young children.  They are my best teachers. Children don’t “direct” themselves.  They are sufficiently present with what they are doing that they don’t project themselves into the future, into reactive patterns. A state of presentness is an inhibitive state. Reactions take us out of the present moment. And children are very much in the moment. But I must also admit that knowledge of what happens when we remove the interference from our primary mechanism, may be useful.  Years ago (20 or more) I remember a discussion with Tommy Thompson and David Gorman around not needing Alexander’s directions. I told them that I didn’t see how they could be sure they didn’t need them since they grew up with directions.  How could you know that you don’t need them if you never experienced this technique without them?  Now I realize that that may never be a possibility because no matter how you experience this work, you will probably read a number of books that include Alexander’s directions.  Oh well….So much for training a generation of teachers who are completely “directionless!”

Another reference for me is a spot in Frank Jones’ book where he has a line drawing of three heads: habitual collapsed, habitual erect and guided erect. It’s one of my favorites parts of this magnificent book.  He says that you can move from being collapsed to be guided up; and you can move from being collapsed to being held erect.  BUT you cannot move from being habitually erect to being guided upright.  First you have to let go. That doesn’t sound like direction to me. I listened to my thoughts all day today looking for any sign of direction.  Couldn’t find one.  Every moment I sensed myself out of coordination, I asked myself where I was. I allowed myself to just be.  What happened as a result of that?  Well, what do you know?  I believe my neck may have freed and my head may have moved –forward and up– and my spine may have lengthened and my limbs may have freed.  Isn’t that interesting?  Let me know your thoughts –really!


December 24, 2015 at 4:13 am Leave a comment


I’m a pianist and teacher of The Alexander Technique.  During a class that I teach at The Boston Conservatory, I recently made the comment that titles this blog: Inhibition is your gateway to creativity! Hmmm.  It just came out — and it is so true.

I cannot count how many times I have discovered myself about to play a passage or even a single note at the piano in a way that reinforced the way I played that bit every other time I played it.  We all do this.  In fact, we classical musicians often practice our music over and over in order to establish and refine our interpretation.  Several years ago I took on the challenging study of jazz.  You see, I’m a classical pianist, having received a Master’s Degree in Piano Performance in the classical tradition.  So after playing the instrument for about 45 years, I decided it was finally time to take improvisation on.  My interest?  I wanted to free myself up at the keyboard in a new way – find a way to let improvisation truly be a part of my playing. I began studying the Alexander Technique about 30 years ago, so freeing up at the piano has been a part of my interest for some time.

Inhibition is that lovely little window between stimulus and response that allows us to redefine the moment right then and there– not in a way that is based on past history and expectation.  Yes, it can be unsettling.  But more often it is incredibly freeing.  And the new musical possibilities are endless!  I have worked with jazz artists in the midst of improvisation where it seemed that the musical choices they were making were dictated by their physical and attitudinal “set.”  Inhibition allowed a new choice to be made by offering the student an opportunity to let go of the commitment to what they were doing.  Applying this moment of choice to a classical piece is at least as exciting – maybe more so!

So give it a try.  Just as you are about to play something – especially a part you have thought about and decided upon – give yourself a tiny pause to let go of the direction in which you are headed and allow in the possibility of something new.  I hope you enjoy your new experience!

March 16, 2014 at 9:01 pm Leave a comment



Yesterday I participated in a Wellness Fair in Brookline Village, the tiny neighborhood where my office is located.  Several local practitioners got together to share our expertise with the community. It was the first of its kind in this neighborhood.  The response was overwhelming — over 300 folks attended.  There were tables representing the local chiropractor as well as the acupuncturist, the T’ai Chi School and the gym.  You name it, we have it in Brookline Village — along with The Alexander Technique, of course.  My colleague Cecile Raynor assisted me in this venture along with soon-to-be teacher Rachel Prabhakar.  We explained the work to whoever came to our table and offered a few minutes of hands-on guidance to those who were interested.  Cecile and I gave a 10-minute presentation (each practitioner at the fair had the opportunity to present), after which our table had a line of interested visitors. Each person had about 3 minutes of work with us.  Some may have had a bit more — but not very much.  What struck me was that each person left the fair with more clarity on what this work is, with a new understanding of what they typically do all day, and with a realization that choices are available to them.  Is there any better lesson than that really?  I have no idea if any of these people will actually take a series of lessons.  But I am confident that the seeds have been planted — in ONE lesson.  I run a “boot camp” on Alexander Technique in June at  The Boston Conservatory ( I am often asked how much can really be learned in one single week of immersion.  Well, if yesterday is any indication, then an awful lot of information can be soaked in in a week’s time. I can’t wait!

April 8, 2013 at 1:54 am Leave a comment

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