Author Archives: jleathwood

hand with test notes written on it

Some Principles of the Alexander Technique: a cheat sheet

This week I have posted a blog over at the website for the Colorado Society for the Alexander Technique: Some Principles of the Alexander Technique: a cheat sheet.

As I get ready for a week of teaching at the Guitar Foundation of America’s International Convention, I thought it might be useful to have a handout ready that lists some of the principles of the Alexander Technique. The blog is a slightly expanded version of this list.

I can’t imagine discussing every principle in a workshop or lesson, but as you teach you never know which principle is suddenly going to come to life. This is similar to how Alexander Technique lessons work: not a linear process but a set of learning experiences—primarily kinesthetic—from which the principles emerge and then start to show up in everyday life.

The other part of my handout is based on the text from this site’s homepage. If anyone would like a PDF of it to download, here it is.

My latest guitar in construction by Jeffrey Elliott, Portland, Oregon, 2017. Photo by Jeffrey Elliott

Alexander Technique & the Guitar: Introduction—in which the author considers himself warned

Gordon Crosskey

Gordon Crosskey

The day before my fifteenth birthday, I had my first guitar lesson with Gordon Crosskey. Gordon was Professor of Guitar at the Royal Northern College of Music, as well as Chetham’s School of Music. At that time, on the BBC’s televised competition for young classical musicians, the only guitarist to reach the finals would be one of his students. It seemed only right that to reach his house in Sheffield you had to climb a hill. Once inside—as my mother immediately noted—you beheld an impressive array of antiques, on which Gordon was an expert. As for the guitar, Gordon was and is a marvelous teacher with a way of bringing out the best in young players.

As I was leaving that first lesson, I asked Gordon if he could explain why my right arm would get so tired when I was playing extended fast passages. “It’s because you’re pushing your right shoulder up towards your ear,” he said. “See if you can stop doing that. If not, you might need Alexander Technique lessons—but hopefully that won’t be necessary.”

Now I was intrigued. “Why not? What is the Alexander Technique?”

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A paper dragon next to a to-do list, with "nothing" checked as the only thing on the list

The Life-changing Magic of Non-doing

If you know Marie Kondo’s book The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up, you’ll guess that this post is going to address cleaning and tidying. And so it is – but through the lens of a fundamental principle of the Alexander Technique: non-doing.

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