"Freedom to Change: Development and Science of the Alexander Technique"
Reading history and reviews
Finished on 18th May 2009This was recommended to me by my Alexander Technique teacher last October, after I'd had around 8 lessons and was about to leave for the US. At the time my expectation was that this would be some kind of practical guide to "The Technique". In the event I didn't order a copy until some months after I'd returned to the UK, and it transpires it's not a guide at all. Instead it's by turns an historical account of the origins and development of the Technique, an autobiographical account by the author of his experiences both as a student and as a teacher, and a summary of scientific investigations into the "pscyho-physiological" mechanisms behind it.
These three strands are loosely woven together, as in the main the book proceeds in chronological order. I've read other accounts of F.M. Alexander's discovery and development of his Technique, and Frank Pierce Jones' account is certainly the most definitive so far. His description of the experiments that he (Pierce Jones) later conducted to investigate the Technique and provide more rigorous scientific underpinnings are also quite fascinating.
However for me it is his descriptions of applying the Technique and the results for him personally that I found most engaging. It seems to be taken as a given that it's almost impossible to describe succinctly what the Alexander Technique is really all about to someone who hasn't experienced it (usually people assume it's something to do with posture, if they've heard of it at all), but in Pierce Jones' writing I found both things that I recognised from my own experiences alongside some fresh insights that have I think deepened my understanding.
Since resuming lessons a few months ago I've become increasingly certain that for most people (certainly myself) the Alexander Technique is not something that can be learnt from a book. However I think that this is a great complement to lessons, and I'm sure that it will reward future re-readings.