Alexander Technique for Young Musicians

Book Launch 

Last Sunday I went to the launch party at LCATT for this great little reference booklet, ‘The Alexander Technique for Young Musicians’.  I think  AT teachers and musicians will find it a very useful resource. The authors are colleagues of mine and are an impressive trio, Judith Kleinman, Peter Buckoke and Fuensanta Zambrana Ruiz – All are Alexander teachers, performers and lecturers at major music colleges.

The Alexander Technique for Young Musicians – great little booklet!

We had wine, nibbles, chamber music and then a workshop with input from each of the authors. We explored topics found in the book – Music Practice, Body Mapping and Sensory Awareness.  Like the booklet, the workshop was clear, to the point and very useful.

Fuensanta Zambrana Ruiz, James Sholto and Peter Buckoke

The booklet uses clear language and illustrations to explore the basic concepts of the AT. For instance, I love the use of ‘Fake News’ as a way of explaining Alexander’s term ‘Faulty Sensory Appreciation‘ – Simple, right up to date and good value – so I hope many people make use of it!

Fake News

Misha Magidov

Another sad notification, this time for Misha Magidov who died on 28 May ’19 aged 90.

Misha ran the North London Teacher Training Course where I qualified as an Alexander teacher back in 1987. Misha had trained with Patrick Macdonald, who in turn trained with FM Alexander himself.  Misha was always so caring towards his students and his valuable teaching gave me a wonderful basis from which to work on myself and to teach the AT to others. Misha ran his course for many years with his lovely wife, Judith, until she went to Israel for cancer treatment but sadly died in 2005.  Misha continued to teach in Israel but he visited the UK occasionally to run some workshops for AT teachers.  We were always so pleased to experience his work again and he will be missed by many people. 

I took this photo of Misha in 2008 when I participated in a Workshop that he ran in London.

Kevin Saunders

It was with great sadness that I learned of Kevin Saunders‘ recent death. Kevin came to me on and off for many years for Alexander lessons and during that time he trained firstly as a yoga teacher then, I’m happy to say, as an Alexander Technique teacher. Kevin went on to develop an approach to yoga teaching that utilised his Alexander training and he wrote an excellent Blog on the topic.

This lovely photo of Kevin by Ron Cox shows him in 2003, about the time when he first came to me for AT lessons. Kevin thoughtfully explored new ways to incorporate the AT into his daily life, whilst playing the guitar, working in IT, improving his eyesight and fine- tuning his yoga.

The only photo I took of Kevin was during a lesson when challenging his sense of balance whilst on a wobble board, performing a deep version of the position of mechanical advantage (2012). Not something every pupil is asked to do, or could even think of performing!

Kevin always came to lessons with an intellectual curiosity and gentle thoughtfulness about the human condition, discussing theories and exploring different ways of using the AT. Teaching Kevin was always stimulating for me and I also learned a lot from him over the years, for instance about different approaches to the AT. He will be missed by many.

 

Next Intro Alexander Workshop

My next Introductory Workshop is on Saturday June 22nd.

This offers you a chance to find out about Alexander classes and how they can help you.  As this will be for a small group, it is essential to enrol in advance. Further info and Booking.

There will be some simple experiential activities, in which you can begin to develop awareness of the way you use your body. You will also learn the Active Rest Procedure, which you are encouraged use every day, to help you to become calmer, reduce tension and look after your back.

The photo shows participants at a previous workshop, as they are getting up from using this procedure. They are pausing midway, so they can be aware of how they are moving whilst gently maintaining a lengthened head neck and back. AT work is about how we move and act in the world, whatever we are doing, rather than just performing exercises at specific times.

This workshop could form the first part of a short course if enough people would like to attend.

Celebrate FM Alexander’s 150th Birthday

What better time to explore the AT than on F M Alexander’s 150th Birthday on 20th January 2019!
 
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Special Offer – A limited number of Reduced Rate private lessons of one hour are available, only during January, for just £30. Just 4 are left……
 
Here’s a chance to discover what Alexander work is all about and just how it can help you throughout your life, when you use it during your daily activities.
Let go of old habits that don’t serve you and start afresh for the New Year.
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Successful ‘Stress? Take it Lying Down’ event

Stress? Take it Lying Down 

We recently ran a very successful event for Alexander Technique Week 2018, the theme of which was ‘Stress? Take it Lying Down’. I am very grateful to The Old Church N16 as they kindly allowed me to use the premises for free, as we were fundraising for the local charity Safaplace. I also want to thank my colleague Jessamy Harvey, for all her help in setting up and running the event.

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Over forty people enjoyed lying down in Semisupine!                 Photo: Nell Greenhill
The Church looked beautiful and very atmospheric with all the candles and low lighting! We were fortunate to have two speakers from Safaplace, Sarah Finke and Rose White who gave moving accounts about the formation of the charity and why it was set up in order to promote the positive mental health of schoolchildren.
I then described how the Alexander Technique can help us cope with stress as well as helping us be more poised and how the AT explores the mind-body relationship, helping us to unlearn habits we’ve developed that can interfere with the way our bodies need to work.
Caroline Sears followed with a talk about Alexander in Education and how the AT has been introduced into over 80 schools and colleges in the UK and in many institutions around the world, helping students handle exam and performance stresses, for instance.
Then it was lie-down time and The Old Church was full of quiet bodies as Natasha Broke talked people through the Active Rest procedure. Along with the teachers already mentioned, Daniela Sangiorgio and Thodoris Ziarkas joined us to give people a brief hands-on experience whilst lying down. All the teachers assisting on this event are registered with STAT and are alumni of LCATT, an AT teacher training course where I am a visiting teacher.
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Six AT teachers gave mini taster sessions                                    Photos: Nell Greenhill
Finally, we gave some mini taster hands-on turns to those that wished to explore the AT a little more and the bar was open for people to enjoy.
Many thanks to Janet Foster who looked after the door, the friends who ran the bar and helped out and Nell Greenhill for taking the photos – all of whom, like the AT teachers, offered their time and services for free.
Donations to Safaplace
I am pleased to say that we raised over £423 for Safaplace – thanks to the generosity of all the participants!
If you would like to read more about Safaplace and / or would like to donate to them, you can do so here: https://safaplace.org/

Stress? Take it Lying Down. Candlelit Event

 

Stress? Take it Lying Down

11 October 7.0pm ~ The Old Church Stokey N16
 
Candlelit event in London’s only surviving Elizabethan Church
 
I am running this event with four AT colleagues, as part of International Alexander Technique Week 2018. Jessamy Harvey, Caroline Sears, Natasha Broke and Daniela Sangiorgio all trained at LCATT where I am a visiting teacher. The event is also fundraising for local charity Safaplace, which was formed to promote the positive mental health of children in Stoke Newington School and in the local area. 
 
 
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  • Come and hear about Safaplace charity
  • Learn how the Alexander Technique can help you manage stress
  • Experience the wonderful Active Rest procedure
  • Try a mini hands-on turn with one of the 4 local AT teachers
  • Support Safaplace by your generous donations
 
Tickets
 
SOLD OUT! However, we have a waiting list, so do book a free place below and we will contact you if tickets become available.
 
This is a 14+ event. Get your free tickets from Eventbrite, with suggested donations on the day to Safaplace, at entry and at the bar (yes, there will be a bar, run by kind volunteers!):
 
Safaplace on the BBC
There is an interesting article about the sad reasons behind the formation of Safaplace on the BBC website. If you cannot attend this event, you might like to make a donation to Safaplace:  https://bbc.in/2NY8AkH
 

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Alexander Technique Intro Courses

* Six Week Course for Beginners & Returners
Mondays: 10 September- 15 October ~  10.15am – 11.45am
Earlybird Fee by 20 August: £80 ~ Later Payment: £90
Hilary will be assisted by Jessamy Harvey MSTAT. 
 
Complete beginners need to have attended an Intro Workshop or had a 1:1 lesson before joining this Course.
 

NEARLY FULL – please phone to see if places are available.

 

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Small friendly group please enrol in advance – Further Info and Booking 
 
Venue overlooking Clissold Park:
3 Queen Elizabeth’s Walk, Stoke Newington, N16 OBF
 
 
Clissold Park Tennis Pavilion
 
The Club Room has a lovely view over Runtzmere Lake and the woodland area by Queen Elizabeth’s Walk Gate.

Why I Trained as an Alexander Teacher

The Ballet Years

 
I had lessons in classical ballet from the age of 5 and serious training began from the age of 11 when I became a boarder at the Royal Ballet School. It was sometimes wildly exciting and it was great to visit the Royal Opera House, sometimes sitting in the Royal Box during rehearsals! But life was very pressurised and quite stressful – I was put on diets to slim down and I acquired strains to my achilles and lower back, as I tried (too) hard to increase my flexibility. My body was always under examination and deemed to be lacking and, looking back, I can understand that it didn’t seem to belong to me. However, in my late teens I was accepted into the Sadler’s Wells Opera Ballet (now ENO) where I happily performed for a number of years. I met my opera-singer husband and first heard about the Alexander Technique there but sadly did not have AT lessons then as they would have helped me.
 
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Hilary King performing with Sadlers Wells Opera, Welsh National Opera and BBC TV 
 
Build-up of Stress
 
Rolling on some years, I gave up dancing so that I could be where my husband worked 
(as women still tended to do back then). I had children, got divorced and then my ex moved abroad. I needed to re-train so I could earn some money. I studied for a degree majoring in Psychology and was in one of the last groups of people that were truly fortunate to be able to study for free. 
The degree was hard to do as a mature student and single parent with 2 small children – then my mother died suddenly of a heart attack. Life had become extremely stressful and I was concerned that if I went on my health would deteriorate and I would end up like my mother.
Then I discovered that one of my Psychology lecturers, Peter Ribeaux, also taught the Alexander Technique at college, so I dived in and took AT lessons. I began to gain tools that I could use to calm myself down and clear my head. I studied better, got better marks and was less cranky with my long-suffering children. Learning and using the lying down procedure in particular helped transform me, as it gave me an immediate tool to help myself with. The AT work also helped me with my old back strain and I learned to listen to my body, ‘regaining’ it and discovering what it needed, rather than my just trying to make it perform for me – as I had been trained to do all through those ballet years.
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Semi-Supine Emergency Kit!
 
I gained my degree – just missing a first – which was sad but also wonderful, as I’d not even had any A levels, because ballet dancers were not deemed to have brains in those days and we did not have that option at the RBS. I then explored the idea of training in dance therapy and did some psychotherapy training but finally decided to train as an Alexander teacher, because I was so impressed by the hugely beneficial changes that had come about in me through having AT lessons.
I commenced my training at the Ribeaux school and completed it at the North London Teacher Training Course run by Misha Magidov, qualifying in 1987. I have had many happy years of teaching and am very grateful that I’ve been able to work in such a wonderful discipline that helps me look after myself in both my my mind and body, as I teach others how to do the same.