Why I study the Alexander Technique

Kay S. Hooper

Ten years of pain, plain and simple. Ten years of cortisone shots, chiropractic, and anti-inflammatory drugs. Ten years of mega-doses of aspirin, ice and heat treatments, and exercises. Ten years of playing and teaching piano in pain.

The exact moment of discovering the Alexander Technique came with the daily mail. A brochure about summer music workshops at Westminster Choir College included a session about Alexander Technique, and my husband suggested I give it a chance. I took his sage advice.

The first morning of the week-long workshop was an epiphany. At last I realized that I was causing my own problem, and therefore I had to be an active part of the solution. And, despite the chronic tendinitis in my right elbow, I discovered that the solution would need to include my whole body, my whole self, as I was to learn.

The logic of it all made immediate sense to me. Our class study of the skeleton and its relational functioning clarified it further. I was beginning to de-mystify the stubborn pain which had defied both teachers and health practitioners, understanding it from a structural standpoint for the first time.

Most importantly, I was being empowered to improve by my own choices. The teacher's hands were unlike any I had ever experienced, and her wisdom and expertise were to aid me for many years to come. But at the base of it all, I knew that she was leading me to a greater level of personal responsibility. Taking personal responsibility for my healing re-energized my desire to be pain free, with the bonus of improving the quality of my performance at the piano.

Since this first workshop I have attended many more, and I have had the good fortune to work with a variety of teachers, travelling as far as London to do so. The pain which I had known for so long is virtually gone, and I now have the knowledge to work through it appropriately. This year I have also begun a teacher training course so that I can provide that door to empowerment that was opened to me over ten years ago.

Kay Hooper has a Bachelor of Music degree from Susquehanna University and a Master of Music degree from Illinois State University. She has been an independent piano teacher since 1975 and has recently completed her first year of Alexander Technique teacher training at the Alexander Foundation in Philadelphia.

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