Resources and Web Links
"John Dewey’s Influence on F M Alexander"
Malcolm Williamson 2016. The recent republication of Eric McCormack’s dissertation on the influence of Alexander on John Dewey (A Neglected Influence, Mouritz) coincides with the centenary celebration of Dewey’s Democracy and Education (1916). The challenge is to show Dewey’s reciprocal influence on the development of Alexander’s ideas. This paper goes some way to setting out a case for Alexander’s vocabulary and emphasis (education rather than therapeutic correction of habit) having subtly changed after 1916 when the two met.
For Full text John Dewey's Influence on F M Alexander
A Handbook for Musicians Learning the Alexander Technique “Changing Habits: The power of saying No”
Malcolm Williamson. Review of the author's 27 years AT teaching at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester UK. The project has the form of: 1) Advice to music students and teaching staff, 2) Alexander’s life and work 1889-1910, 3) A Handbook for students taking lessons - review of principles, etc. and 4) Interviews with working musicians (not included). In particular, the project led to an interest in the long association between Alexander and America’s pre-eminent philosopher John Dewey (for more detail of this, see paper given at the ISPS, Toronto 2011 ‘John Dewey and F. M. Alexander: Habit and Performance Skills’ and ‘John Dewey’s Influence on F M Alexander’). The Handbook has been completely revised and updated for the 2016 International Conference for Alexander Technique in Music Education held at Trinity Laban.
For Full text A Handbook for Musicians Learning the Alexander Technique “Changing Habits: The power of saying No”
"James Faucit Cathcart (1828-1902)"
Malcolm Williamson 2015. James Cathcart was a respected veteran of the English and Australian stage. As one of Alexander’s early elocution teachers, he is remembered for his instruction to ‘take hold of the floor with your feet’ that led Alexander to question his reliance on old habits. This article, first appearing in Statnews, January 2015, recounts his eventful life.
For Full text James Faucit Cathcart
“The Human Voice”
The Human Voice, was until recently a ‘lost’ document. Written by F. M. Alexander in about 1900, it was obviously meant to advertise his teaching to prospective pupils on the occasion of his move from Melbourne to Sydney. It throws new light on his key influences at the time, Leo Kofler and the breathing method described by A. C. Neumann - ‘the great physiologist, [who] was the first to publish a system of correct breathing’ (Kofler 1883: 86; 1887: 34) in his book, 1859, Die Athmungskunst des Menschen [“The Art of Breathing”]. Neumann is quoted by Alexander on page 11 (Clergyman’s Sore Throat). “If you wish to find and define these muscles . . .” (Neumann: 14; Kofler 1883: 91; Kofler 1887: 40) Acknowledgement: Alexander Murray for making available his photocopy of the original document.
For Full text The Human Voice
“Breathing and the evolving concept of ‘primary control’ during Alexander’s lifetime”
Malcolm Williamson 2014. Early in his teaching career, Alexander gained a reputation as someone who knew about natural, effective breathing. In both the areas of ‘the vocal arts’ and public health (respiratory diseases), breathing was a major concern. In this article - that first appeared in In The Moment, AuSTAT, November 2014 - the author explores the close links between Alexander’s interest in breathing and the evolving concept of ‘primary control’ in the way we use ourselves in all activities.
For Full text Breathing and the evolving concept of primary control
“Natural Elocution” by C. S. Hartley - Text transcribed with footnotes by Malcolm Williamson
Natural Elocution was the first source mentioned by F. Matthias Alexander at the time that he set out to become a professional reciter and teacher of the vocal arts. His article ‘Elocution as an Accomplishment’ appeared in The Mercury, a Hobart (Tasmania) newspaper, Monday 9 July 1894. Full text transcribed with additional footnotes by Malcolm Williamson. I am most grateful to Dr. Jeroen Staring of Nijmegen, The Netherlands for his generosity in allowing me to photograph the copy of this rare booklet in his possession (31 May 2013).
For Full text Natural Elocution by C. S. Hartley
“Changing Habits: Script for talk at RAM 19 Feb 2012”
Malcolm Williamson. Script for talk given to the International Conference for Alexander Teachers Working in Music held at the Royal Academy of Music, London in February 2012
For Full text Changing Habits: Script for talk at RAM
“John Dewey and F. M. Alexander: Habit and Performance Skills”
Malcolm Williamson. Research paper given at the International Symposium on Performance Science, Toronto in August 2011.
For Full text Habit and Performance Skills
"Making Life Easier: An introductory talk on the Alexander Technique"
Malcolm Williamson. Talk given at staff conference, "Health and the Musician", Royal Northern College of Music, 11 September, 1997.
For Full text Making Life Easier
"Understanding and Preventing Misuse in Musical Performance by Employing the Alexander Technique"
Kathleen J Ballard, Ronald Colyer and Malcolm Williamson. International Conference, Health and the Musician, York 1997 (Musicians’ Union; BAPAM).
For Full text Understanding and Preventing Misuse in Musical Performance
"Means to means: the role of the Alexander Technique in musical Training"
Malcolm Williamson. Talk given at the Royal College of Music, London, 31st March 1998 to third conference for Alexander teachers working in music colleges.
For Full text Means to Means
An introduction to the Alexander Technique for practitioners of performing arts medicine, Malcolm Williamson. Journal of the British Association of Performing Arts Medicine, Summer 2003.
For Full text Making Connections
“Constructive Conscious Control”
Malcolm Williamson. This article first appeared in STAT NEWS, January 1995. The title of Alexander’s second and definitive book on the Technique is called Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual. McGilchrist (2003)* writes: "The defining features of the human condition can all be traced to our ability to stand back from the world, from ourselves and from the immediacy of experience. This enables us to plan, to think flexibly and intuitively, and, in brief, to take control of the world around us rather than respond to it passively.” As Use and Functioning improve, a subtler plane of awareness, which John Dewey called “thinking in activity”, can develop.
* Iain McGilchrist, The Master and his Emissary. Yale University Press.
For Full text Constructive Conscious Control
“Knowing where to begin”
Malcolm Williamson. Talk given at the Royal Northern College of Music, Staff Conference (Musicians’ Health), 14th September 2007. From a practical point of view, the satisfactory, smooth working of the body’s mechanism for postural balance is essential to every wakeful activity. Alexander’s approach to improving Use and Functioning shows us how to discover the best way to use ourselves "starting from scratch" as Aldous Huxley put it (see Jones 1976, page 154).
For Full Text Knowing Where to Begin
“The Role of the Alexander Technique in Musical Training and Performing”
M. Williamson, N. Roberts, and A. Moorhouse. Research paper given at the International Symposium on Performance Science, Oporto in November 2007. The authors present some preliminary results from fMRI studies of brain activity during "giving directions" and improvements in singers' vocal quality and pianists' evenness of touch when playing scales following Alexander lessons. Proceedings of the International Symposium on Performance Science 2007, edited by Aaron Williamon and Daniela Coimbra, published by the European Association of Conservatoires (AEC), Utrecht, The Netherlands ISBN 978-90-9022484-8: pp.369-374.
For Full Text The Role of the Alexander Technique in Musical Training and Performing
“Inner Voice Plays Role in Self Control”
Malcolm Williamson. This article first appeared in STAT NEWS January 2011. The giving of 'orders' or 'directions' is a key feature of Alexander's technique for developing conscious guidance and control in the use of the self. The difference (if there's is one) is that 'orders' are preventative - what mustn't be allowed to happen - whereas 'directions' are what we wish to happen in ensuring the proper working of the 'primary control.' The nature of how we give ourselves directions is rarely mentioned outside of lessons and this article, prompted by new research, attempts to present the various aspects of 'directing' in the hope that it will encourage further discussion.
For Full Text Inner Voice Plays Role in Self Control
The literature on the Alexander Technique is extensive. In addition to simple introductory books, there are many others intended for special interest groups, such as musicians, actors, horse riders, runners, swimmers etc. as well as books intended for teachers of the Technique. Papers on the Technique have been published in many journals. Some of the Links below should assist you in your search, and most provide further links:
Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique (STAT)
Mornum Time Press, Berkeley, CA
A major resource and information site
International Journal on the Alexander Technique
The Alexander Music School (AMS) in Las Alpujarras (Home to the MATTS Summer School. See Term Dates for further details)
An interesting collection of photographs of F M Alexander and related matters can be found here