The Vault

Merry Christmas Favourite People

Hey! Christmas has crept up on me again and before long I'll be chomping on barbequed prawns after a morning surf at Lacey's. We're expecting a lift in the swell for Thursday which will be welcome fun! Attached is a beautiful card from my friend Hellie...a subscriber who just keeps coming back. Hope you like it, she made it herself. Most of you should already have your Group Dynamics Issue in North America, the rest of the world will have to wait a bit...we use US Postal Service, and they will be under the pump at this time of the year. Please be patient. (2-3 weeks is prudent)

Well, that's all for me for another year. There are lots of things planned for 2010, so make sure you're signed up to the Interview Notices list to get into the latest live interview. I plan to record one every fortnight. Also I'm working on a media watch/quick response idea with another friend, so keep your eyes open for that. Seems like the media is picking up Alexander technique more and more...2009 saw Oprah and Victoria Beckham give it a mention. They might not be completely accurate descriptions of what the Alexander technique is (Victoria is "fighting" poor posture, Oprah's magazine describes a therapy with subtle exercises), but then even "accurate" descriptions, sanctioned by a society and lovingly crafted by an educated person are often misunderstood by the reader anyway!

The moral of the publicity story? Bring the client/pupil in the door first, then allow them the opportunity to learn the relevance of Alexander technique to their own life. 

Yours in Alexander always, Paul


Victoria Beckham Evolution Begins

Well, well, well... The latest gossip on the Alexander technique grapevine is that the Beckham family are getting into some quality "posture and core support" help. Who knows what definitions will be bandied around the next few weeks and months as the media watch her shape change, but what will be interesting is how long Victoria will persevere with the Alexander technique. 

Image courtesy JustJaredFor Alexander technique teachers who have battled to communicate with the general public what it is they actually do (or not do), this is a golden opportunity to learn the language of the mainstream. Yes, it's all very kosher in our profession to use the right terminology for what we teach, to not misrepresent the work itself, but as has been the case for the last 50 odd years, the rest of the world don't have a clue what we're talking about!

Michael Gelb put it well in our interview back in June (listen to it here) when he said that he wrote Body Learning in an effort to explain our complicated understandings and definitions for lay people, something that had been done so terribly by teachers in the past.

But now that Victoria Beckham has been reported to be unhappy with her rounded shoulders...and no doubt not very comfortable with her bunions from high heeled entrapment for so many years, let's watch how this major celebrity transforms as she learns the Alexander technique secrets to poise that so many professional actors have known for decades. (not to mention long term back pain sufferers who have solved years of pain and repetitive therapy)

So, if you start getting phone calls from people wanting to be just like Victoria asking to (as Marie Claire magazine puts it)  "strengthen core muscles and re-align the spine" just go about your normal practice of sticking to principle. Who really cares what brings new students through the door afterall? So long as they keep coming, the explanation they get when they arrive will soon sort the ones who want a quick fix from the enlightenment searchers.

And if you haven't yet checked out the new issue Group Learning, we've built some supplemental pages for the articles in the magazine with bonus live interviews. Here's one here for the article The Company You Keep.



Group Learning and Teaching

At Victorinox, not only did Priska Gauger-Shelbert create such massive demand for her work (900+) employees requiring Alexander technique, but many didn't even speak her language! In the early stages of her work at the company, she did not know from one day to the next if she would be asked back. The results evolved so gradually that many an executive would have called the experiment off. 

However, her perseverance and ingenuity has now paid dividends. She is now their permanent Alexander technique consultant to the company across all departments (this role accounts for 20% of her workload) . It is a truly inspirational story. In our new Group Learning/Teaching issue, we examine what Priska had to go through to evolve the relationship and negotiate her way to being in full control of her workload.

Soon I will speak with John Baron, another AT teacher who has put our work on the world stage by securing a teaching role at Google. Rated as No.4 in Fortune Magazine's top 100 employers in 2009, Google certainly sets many trends in the world today. Could this breakthrough open the door for many other AT teachers to follow into corporate America? I'll let you know how my chat with John goes.

Check out the new recording of John Nicholls in the subscription vault and also a new Walter Carrington talk on "defective inhibition" among other things (as always).

Subscribe now to keep abreast of the contemporary news in Alexander Technique.



Kids and the Alexander Technique: Live

My good friend Suzanne Duncanson mentioned to me the other day that she had taught Alexander Technique to children some. My ears pricked up!

"Well, not lots and lots...but I do like working with children" was her cautious my mind began racing and she no doubt realised her mistake.

I tend to draw people to interviews these days based on what other people recommend or on topics that I want to know more about. Selfish? I hope my conversations with Michael Gelb, Steven Shaw, Jeremy Chance, David Gorman, Michael Frederick, John Nicholls and Glenna Batson to name a few have whet your appetite for more, it sure has mine. (check out the recordings in the Audio Archive. A free or paid subscription is necessary to access them)

Suzanne has worked with many more kids than I have and the fact that she likes doing it tells me she has it down to a fine art. I can imagine that the tide can turn against you very quickly with children and if you're not liking the rollercoaster of keeping their attention you'll be disliking the process thereafter!

Suzanne is a STAT member and has been teaching since 1995 in Norwich and Worstead. Her manner is so relaxed that our so-called interview is going to be more of a morning tea break (for UKers) and a relaxing break on the couch for Aussies.

Due to the time difference this time, you'll have to be up real early in New York (5am). Sorry! Have to give the other part of the world some good times too you know.

So, how do we connect with children?

If we are NOT teaching kids...are we really making a difference for the future of mankind?

Would FM be impressed with our progress getting this work into the psyche of the young...and if not, how can we?

To join the call please subscribe to the Live Interview List on the left for all details. It will be recorded for subscribers. Please subscribe now...we are producing 4 magazines a year and would love to have you on board.



Live Interview Monday 28th, John Nicholls

After each and every interview I ask my guest who they think I should speak with next. One name comes up again and again.

John Nicholls.

An interesting or perhaps quirky lead in is that I had already met two other Nicholls prior to speaking with John on the phone. Carolyn, who needs no introduction in the AT world, and Brian, John's Osteopath brother in Melbourne. (Brian allowed me to create an AT student clinic within the Osteopathic student clinic at Vic Uni whilst I was in my 3rd year of training)

John has directed three teacher training programs throughout his career on 3 different continents. His latest venture with Nanette Walsh in New York (ATNYC) will be one focus of our discussion along with his ideas on the directions that Alexander Technique is to take in the future if we are to survive. Click here to access some of John's articles.

John is well placed to comment. His presentations to the community focus on forward thinking and big picture perspectives and as Chair of STAT in London ('85,'86) he was instrumental in the formation of affiliated national societies around the world.

With 33+ years of teaching experience and dozens of graduate teachers trained, John will be one of my most eminent and respected guests of 2009. Don't miss it!

To take part in this live interview, please click here.

[the conference call is open to all and will be recorded for subscribers]




Explaining Direction's Subscriptions

Let me explain the situation on the digital back issues....

Last year I made a one-time exclusive offer to 100 people. 100 important and valued people took it up and allowed me to relaunch Direction Journal.

That one-time offer in effect gave $468 worth of journals (retail value) and the right to reproduce them any time you want with either your home printer or by taking the pdf file to a printing company.

The subscription vault has two sections nowadays, Free and Paid. 

The free access contains lots and lots of material. Click here to apply for a Free Subscription.

To get access to everything else including paper journals when they are produced (4 per year) the annual dues are $97.00. All explained here.

I'm working on a live web interface for next year...which will be exclusive to subscribers. Imagine if you could interact with the best AT teachers in the world from the comfort of your own home...and see them in action!! 

We want more subscribers and will bend over backwards to treat subscribers like gold. 

How much professional development and community do you expect for $97.00?

Let me know if you have any ideas, I'm always wanting to provide more for subscribers.



AT in the 21C...Can We Make It?

In my next interview I'll be quizzing David Gorman on his thoughts about the immediate future for the Alexander Technique. David is well placed to comment. His thirty years working with performers and developing his own brand of self-enlightenment known as LearningMethods gives him a unique view on "where we are going". 

Is the Alexander "Technique" going to survive? 100 years on, does it have the necessary pulling power to compete with hundreds of self-help methods that have sprung up even within the last decade? Sure! It works, it's validated...but does it fit into the pace of modern society? Is it relevant? Can it translate to modern day people and lifestyle?

Well may you cry out, "Of course it does!"

Then where is it in the public perception then?

Does it have the profile of physiotherapy or chiropractic? 

Is it as readily recognized as pilates or yoga?

Why have these two examples become modern buzzes? Is Alexander Technique just waiting for a  "Tipping Point" to happen?

Hopefully I've set the stage...and hopefully not set the bar too high for David.

Join us in this lively exploration of what awaits Alexander Technique in this century.

Monday August 10th...all details upon registration on the next page.

Participation in the call requires registration here.


Getting to Page One on Google

I heard a very good story the other day about a guy who sells boats in Florida. Every time he had a new boat to sell he would write a little bit about it and post it on his blog. Then, when he sold it, he wrote a little story (or got his customer to) about them, their new boat and where they were going to use it, why they bought it etc.


Do you know...his website stormed to the top of boat websites on Google's first page...outperforming much bigger websites, much bigger budgets!!


Why? Because he was posting fresh relevant content, boating locations, boat specs, social proof (customer testimonials) and information that people wanted to know about boats on a medium (blog) that is highly respected and loved by search engines.


So two things I'd recommend every Alexander Technique teacher do immediately if not sooner :)


1. Start a blog. The search engines love new content and will index your site high in search results...if you are writing often. Make sure you include in your blog regular mention of the following keywords: Alexander Technique, your suburb, your city...and any other areas of help you feel you're particularly good at (like back pain, or shoulder pain or stress relief etc)


Alexander Technique is being searched more and more thesedays...and with the publicity machine of Steven Shaw now taking USA by storm (you might not have heard the news Steven told us on the interview this week??) if you have new, fresh content on your site, at least weekly, Google will love you.


Thanks to people like Shaw and the Art of can leverage his reputation and gain new business.



2. Put a contact form on your page with or without an optin box. (too technical?) Every time someone comes to your site...offer them something now...something free, like a voucher for a complimentary lesson if they bring a friend...or a cup of tea with a group of beginners on know, something unique to you. Whoever you're trying to appeal will only understand if you talk their stuff they will appreciate. ok?


The golden rule of a website really is to make friends. Keep it simple and honest. Don't try to be someone you're not.


But if anyone arrives at your website and has to manually type in your email address (too time consuming); or has to pick up the phone (too lazy or too nervous) and there's no "call to action" urgency for them to do something NOW...they will click by and perhaps just go to their doctor for a pill...or buy a video on home stretching...yikes!


At the end of August I'll be interviewing Roy Alexander technique teacher who has really mastered the art of making friends with people online. Check out one of his successful websites now and put into your calendar our appointment on Monday 17th of August. It will be a learning curve that goes straight up for me!





Steven Shaw - Live Sunday 26th July

The time for this interview is not great for the USA listeners this time round...unless you're an early bird!


But for Australia, Asia UK/europe...finally it's our turn for a comfortable timezone :) And we're all in the same day for a change too!!


If you haven't heard of've probably been underwater too long.


When I met Steven in the pool a couple of years ago I quickly realized why this man has built such a huge following...the water seems to be his second home and his softly spoken approach really puts you a ease.


And, to my relief...he makes swimming easeful for the less floaty like myself. I've always swum a bit like a housebrick...despite many, many years of swimming growing was always associated with too much effort for too little gain.


We can't really get wet on this interview, but we will be learning how Steven has taken swimming and the Alexander Technique international, in a BIG way.


With 100+ Shaw Method trained teachers in his stable, there are public classes, private classes, residentials all over the world. Not to mention dvds, books, goggles!


How does one man do it? Or does he do it all himself?


I'm looking forward to finding out how we can all learn

better ways of bringing what we know to the world.


Check out the August 20th, 2009 article in here


More about Steven...


Steven learned to swim at an early age and his love

of being in the water led him naturally to join his local

swimming club where he took up competitive swimming.


At the age of seventeen he quit - burnt out from the long

hours of hard training and suffering from a severely

strained neck and upper back. At this point in his life

he vowed never to return to recreational or competitive



While at University he was introduced to the Alexander

Technique as a means of relieving his pain and became

enthused by the ideas of F.M Alexander.


In 1990 he started the three year Alexander Technique

teacher training course in Israel. During this time he

began to re-explore his relationship with the water

and by applying principles of the Alexander Technique

in that element rediscovered his passion for swimming.


Together with his former wife Limor, he developed a new

approach to teaching swimming -


The Shaw Method of Swimming.


Using his unique approach he has over the years helped

thousands of people to find freedom and ease in the water.

Steven enjoys working with swimmers and non-swimmers

of all levels ranging from those who are fearful of putting

their faces in the water to triathletes or people training to

swim the English Channel. He teaches groups and

individuals throughout the UK and has introduced the

Shaw Method to Japan, the US and Canada. Steven is

available to run workshops throughout the world in

applying the technique to swimming.


Steven is the Course Director of the Middlesex University

accredited Diploma course in the Shaw Method and has

trained close to 100 teachers. He is the co-author with a f

ormer pupil Armand D'Angour of the 1997 'Art of Swimming

in a new direction with the Alexander Teachnique' and has

produced two videos. He recently completed his second

book Master the Art of Swimming and is currently working

on his third book which will be for parents and children.





Saudade - A Portuguese Songbook

**My friend Amanda Cole has just released a new CD, please support her wonderful work**

This groundbreaking recording features the Australian mezzo-soprano Amanda Cole in a program of fascinating and evocative Portuguese art songs. Now based in Dunedin, New Zealand, Cole conceived the project after discovering the little-known songs in music archives during a trip to Portugal in 2007. Using her gift for languages, she researched the literary, historical and cultural background to the songs, securing support from the Jack Straw Foundation in Seattle, USA and the Camões Institute in Portugal in order to perform and record them. She is joined on the album by the noted New Zealand pianist
Sandra Crawshaw.

The pair worked extensively on the repertoire and ensemble with Cathy Madden, Alexander Technique teacher and performance coach in Seattle.

As the extensive album notes explain;

"saudadeis a wistful melancholy caused by the absence or disappearance of people or things to which one has become emotionally attached."

It also describes a sense of deprivation of pleasant experiences previously enjoyed. We might call this feeling “yearning” “longing” or “nostalgia”in English, but the Portuguese concept has a deeper cultural significance. Many of the poems from which the featured composers derived inspiration are representative ofSaudosismo, an early 20th century nationalist movement that was closely linked to a revival of the Portuguese Golden Age.

For the poets of this movement (thesaudosistas),saudadewas proclaimed as nothing less than the spiritual lifeblood of the Portuguese race: at once a sentiment, an idea and an emotion where all existence, body and soul, pain and happiness, love and desire, heaven and earth become one. It is a concept that still defines the Portuguese temperament.

Cole brings her own interpretation of
saudadeto the album. The cover, also designed by the singer, depicts a painting she bought on the streets of Lisbon on her first extended trip to Europe as a student in the 1990s. Cole’s voice – dark, sensuous and suggestive – captures the yearning quality of the music and the hopes and longings of the Portuguese soul that animate it.

Saudade: a Portuguese Songbookis not only a musicaltour de force. It is also groundbreaking in musicological terms, linking the exploration of cultural and historical themes to performance in a way that enriches the enjoyment of the listener. The result is an original and deeply moving evocation of a little known poetical and musical tradition that is sure to surprise and delight.