Benny Goodman and John Cleese
“I find the Alexander Technique very helpful in my work. Things happen without you trying. They get to be light and relaxed. You must get an Alexander teacher to show it to you.” - John Cleese
You've never heard a clarinet played before, so I loan you mine. You sit down for a couple of hours and work out how to make a few sounds, some not too bad. It may even pass for music. You think you have a good idea of what the clarinet can do. Then Benny Goodman arrives, and you pass the clarinet to him. And now you hear what's possible. You couldn't have imagined a clarinet could sound like that. And having heard it, you know you can't reproduce it right now. But you also know that with time, and practise, you may perhaps get close. You now know what's possible.
How do you know what's possible with your body and mind? When we're young we work out how to stand, sit, lift a box - we work out how to 'make a few sounds'. Then we move on. Our 'few sounds' are enough to get us through our day so we can make breakfast, send emails, hang out the washing. We don't question what's possible, as our 'few sounds' seem sufficient. If pain one day arrives, we may question whether the way we sit, stand, and lift boxes is part of the problem. And then we should really find out what's possible, and not accept that our 'few sounds' are all we have to work with.
If you'd like to know what's possible you can get an Alexander Technique teacher to show it to you. They've spent at least three years learning how to use their bodies and minds well, and to teach others how to do this for themselves. They can show you that it's possible to be upright easily. They can show you how to be light and relaxed in a situation you thought required tension and stiffness. They can show you what's possible, and if you want to go further they can teach you how to begin to get there. And hopefully, with time and practice, you may perhaps get close. Maybe even Carnegie Hall.
Bradley Newman teaches the Alexander Technique in Sydney. For more information see firstname.lastname@example.org .or email Bradley on