Ella Fitzgerald’s ‘Tain’t what you do but the way that you do it’
Now that’s a great song and it has been suggested that it could be called ‘a hymn for the Alexander Technique’. Thanks to Margaret Almon ( US mosaic artist) for that great idea.
One of the main tenets of the Technique is precisely this, to be conscious of the way we perform our various activities, so that we can choose the most free and easy way of using our bodies for the task at hand. F M Alexander used to refer to the ‘means whereby’ we perform an activity as being crucial to the health of our bodies. He was adamant that when we get caught up in ‘end gaining‘, for instance when doing something like dancing or playing sports, we very often injure ourselves because we forget to pay attention to the way we do it and then self-medicate to cope with the pain we feel as a result..
This isn’t just something for high flyers to think about, it applies to everyday actions too. A pupil who came to me after a nasty bike accident, which had resulted in her experiencing lots of pain, said to me after she’d had a number of lessons and had taken herself off painkillers:
‘I now think painkillers are like evil tempters into end-gaining. It’s as if they say to you “go on, take me and do it all anyway” even when you know it would be best to stop that activity because it will hurt if you go on.’
Think about how you work. When you sit at a desk, you can have the ‘perfect’ chair, desk and set-up at your disposal but if you sit in a distorted, collapsed or tense manner, giving yourself too few rests and keeping on working in order to to complete the latest deadline, you are likely to give yourself aches and pains – or may even develop more serious problems. However, when you learn to act with awareness and consciously use your body in a more balanced, poised and freely relaxed manner, pacing your work to a suitable level for your own needs, you can look after yourself and help prevent problems from developing.
If you would like help in finding out how to do this, you may like to try some Alexander lessons where such issues can be explored and worked on.
You could also come to my next Taster Workshop on 21st April and find out more about how the Technique can help you if you learn it.
There’s a lovely version of Ella Fitzgerald singing ‘Tain’t what you do but the way that you do it’
on YouTube but for some reason I’m unable to link to it here, sorry.