by Barbara Conable

Alexander teachers vary in competence in the same proportion as other professionals. If you don't know anyone who can recommend a teacher in your area, just go have a first lesson and keep careful track of your experience. If you leave the lesson feeling lighter and easier, more mobile, breathing easier and more aware of your surroundings, then you have found a good teacher and can safely consider taking a series of lessons.

You will be able to tell a great deal, though not everything, by how your teacher moves. Look for ease and alertness and balance. The fact is that most Alexander teachers come to the Technique to solve problems of their own. In the course of working on themselves many people become so interested in the body and in the process of improving its functioning that they decide to become teachers. Those people become good teachers and their experience of liberating themselves is an asset to their students. These teachers have a real understanding of what the student is going through.

Some teachers talk very little during a lesson and some talk a lot. Talking may be helpful to the student, but it is not the only good way to teach. Some Alexander teachers are not particularly verbal people. They invite processing with their hands, or they rely on the body to assimilate something even if it is not named. If you are getting freer and more awake and more able to choose free movement, you are being taught well.

Something must be said about the means that the teacher uses in the teaching. There is a set of what have become known as traditional procedures in Alexander teaching - "tablework" and "chairwork" are two examples. As the names imply, in "tablework" the student lies on a table, not unlike a massage table and in "chairwork" the teacher works with the student seated in a chair.

In my opinion, the biggest difference in teachers is their willingness or unwillingness to work directly in the activity that is important in your life. I am a strong advocate of what has come to be called working in activity. If you are having trouble freeing your neck when you ride your bicycle then I invite you to bring your bicycle right into the teaching room or we go into the street and I watch you ride and coach you in the needed changes. I go to students' spas with them and to their pottery wheels. I get a kick out of direct application, but it is certainly not the only way. Many students are able to transfer what they learn in traditional Alexander teaching procedures to their everyday activities on their own.

People ask about certification of teachers. You will sometimes be told that you should study only with a certified teacher. The fact is that there are wonderful teachers who are certified and there are wonderful teachers who are not. Remember that the teacher is teaching the process of physical liberation and so the relevant question is always: Can this teacher teach me the process by which I can free myself?

Barbara Conable teaches the Alexander Technique in Columbus, Ohio and is the author of How to Learn the Alexander Technique - A Manual for Students published by Andover Press in l996. Click here to learn how to order this and many other books about the Alexander Technique

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