The Vault

Applying Chairwork to Cello Playing

By Eckhart Richter

 

How can cellists who have had extensive training in the F.M. Alexander Technique take maximum advantage of that experience as a means of achieving and maintaining freedom and flexibility in playing their instrument? In seeking to answer that question we must concede right at the start that no two cellists who have had such training would come up with identical answers to that question. The Technique can be applied to different schools of playing so long as basic principles of body mechanics are not being violated. The procedures to be presented here are, therefore, to be regarded as merely one possible answer, rather than the answer to the question posed.

Before proceeding with our presentation it is appropriate to briefly enumerate the most typical symptoms of misuse commonly found among cellists, inasmuch as any recommended procedure for applying the Technique to a specialized skill, such as playing a musical instrument, can only be implemented to the extent that interfering habits are being successfully inhibited.

1. Craning one's neck and thrusting forwards one's chin while playing from music: this habit is a specialized and exaggerated manifestation of the pandemic stiffening of one's neck and pulling down and back of one's head. It becomes particularly pronounced when responding to a perceived mistake and as such shows a significant resemblance to the startle pattern.

2. Crouching and stooping over the cello: again we are dealing with a specialized manifestation of a common symptom of misuse. It becomes particularly pronounced with players who stoop over their cello when playing in thumb position (Photo 1). The crouching mode places excessive weight and pressure on the buttock and as such impedes mobility. It tends to be especially prevalent among cellists using hooked or curved end-pins.

3. Sitting up 'straight' with hollowed lower back: sitting up straight in accordance with the prevalent notion of good posture represents the opposite extreme to the crouching mode. Besides throwing their chest out such players will tend to press their body against the cello. The small of the back will be tightened and pushed forward so as to produce an excessive lumbar curve.

4. Listing to the right side: the tendency to drop the head and torso to the right side with a variously pronounced sag of the right shoulder may be an instinctive reaction to the desire to avoid the pegs and peg box of the cello.

5. Rubbing one's head or neck against the pegs or neck of the cello: twisting one's head and neck to rub against the pegs or neck of the cello is commonly combined with a variously pronounced hunching of the left shoulder. This habit seems to be most prevalent among students and amateurs.

6. Continuous twisting of one's torso in the direction of the fingerboard: this habit is in line with Raymond Dart's observation that most people develop varying degrees of permanent postural twist.1 Since the playing-axis formed by strings and fingerboard deviates diagonally upward to the left of the sagittal plane many cellists tend to over-emphasize one torsional sheet to develop a pronounced twist of the thorax toward the left pelvic bone. This habit tends to be most pronounced when playing in the lowest left hand positions on the A-string, especially when bowing near the nut. It may be viewed as a variant of the pandemic abuse of the flexibility of one's torso and spine at the expense of adequate utilization of one's joints. With improved self use one can learn to reach the A-string with one's bow near the nut without difficulty by allowing one's right arm to lengthen out of one's shoulder and at the elbow, rendering the continuous twist to the left unnecessary.

7. Squeezing the cello with one's legs: this habit may be viewed as an exaggerated manifestation of stiffening one's legs.

8. Pressing on one's toes with feet pulled behind the legs of the chair: this habit has many individual variations. It may involve only one foot, or both feet. In the former case, it is usually the right foot that is pulled behind the inside or outside of the chair leg. In all the versions the sole of the foot or feet are lifted while pressing down on one's toes. Extreme forms of this habit may involve wrapping one's foot around the leg of a chair.

9. Stiffening of arms and hands: this habit appears in endless variations but involves tight shoulder, elbow and wrist joints, gripping or pinching of the bow and clutching the neck of the cello. The attendant excessive squeezing of the thumb of both hands can create much discomfort.

A cellist's initial task is, of course, to learn to refrain from indulging in these kinds of habits, to attend above all to what not to do. With growing experience in this ever new sphere of work, however, one inevitably passes from merely seeking to avoid what interferes with good overall co-ordination to consciously searching for what will tend to enhance and promote it. With this point in mind let us proceed to our main topic.

First of all it is helpful to remember that music symbolizes, suggests and stimulates movement. Duke Ellington's "It don' mean a thing if it ain't got that swing!" eloquently celebrates that truth. The need of performers to swing in character with whatever music they happen to be performing is, in fact, an open invitation to bring Alexandrian principles to bear on the performing activity, inasmuch as Alexander's "primary movement in each and every act,"2 properly executed, tends to be facilitated by doing any simple, overt body movement i.e., under those conditions the tendency of one's body to lengthen and widen will increase ever so slightly. The performing movements, in other words, should ideally be mechanically functional and efficient as well as reflect the character of the music being performed.

Our answer to the basic question posed at the outset of this presentation is that the overt movements being repeatedly rehearsed in chairwork can be systematically incorporated into a cellist's movement repertoire. To show how this can be done we need to examine what actually are the mechanically functional movements of the player's body in cello playing as distinct from the specific actions of arms, hands and fingers. Leaving the all important subject of internal mobility, i.e. the efficient working of one's breathing mechanism out of consideration, these movements may be classified into three basic categories as listed below.

1. Leaning forward from, and moving back to, sitting upright: The applicability of chairwork to this movement is self-evident. As will be shown later the movement of leaning forward will only work for effectively manoeuvring one's cello if during its execution one lets one's head initiate and lead a lengthening of one's torso out of one's hips in an upward direction so as to eliminate any interfering downward pressure. One's torso can then freely pivot over one's hip joints.

2. Swinging from side to side: here one must beware of breaking at the waist. Rather what is called for is a gentle rocking movement in which the body's weight is alternately shifted from one buttock to the other. This movement, like the preceding one, is facilitated by one's head initiating and leading an upward lengthening of one's torso.

3. A reactive, gentle twisting of the torso in the opposite direction to the bow stroke: this movement will occur automatically if there is no interfering rigidity on the part of the player. So there is nothing inherently wrong with twisting movements as such. The arrangement of our body musculature into spiral sheets serves precisely the purpose of enabling us to do this. It endows us with a marvelously adaptable and elastic postural mechanism, which allows us to maintain our equilibrium in a sheer endless variety of bodily movements. In fact, the physical movements and muscular activity incident with cello playing cause slight shifts in the body's centre of gravity. In such playing one maintains one's equilibrium most appropriately through sensitive adjustments in the position of one's torso. Some of these adjustments will occur more or less automatically if one does not unwittingly interfere with them. Such interference is invariably caused by some sort of fixture habitually assumed in sitting. If there is no interference one's reactive balancing movements in cello playing also involve a slight, elastic twisting of one's torso. In a down-bow stroke, as the right arm is abducted diagonally away from the body, the torso will twist slightly to the left. In an up-bow stroke it will twist back in the opposite direction. Thus the body acts like a spring. Its elasticity is manifested in various torsional movements of action and reaction that keep it in a state of mobility. A continuous habitual postural twist differs from such functional elastic twisting in that it entails the assumption of a fixture in a twisted position. It represents thus an abuse of a mechanism designed for adaptability and the maintenance of balance in movement, not only interfering thereby with such balancing but also subjecting the player's body to severe strain.

Of the three basic categories of movement just discussed the last one, as we have seen, is largely involuntary and can thus be entrusted to the "wisdom of the body." That is also true to some extent of the second category which can, however, also be consciously employed in a functional manner. The first category is completely voluntary and its usefulness along with that of category two will be demonstrated below.

Our proposed method of applying chairwork to cello playing utilizes the traditional manner of holding the cello still preferred by most cellists. This cello hold is essentially derived with certain modifications from the manner in which the instrument was held between the legs before the end-pin came into use. (The presumed advantages of more recent, unorthodox ways of holding the cello are more than off-set by equally important bio-mechanical drawbacks, in our opinion.)

Learning to Hold the Cello

We begin by placing a chair in front of a full-length mirror in such a way that the back of the chair will be facing it diagonally toward the left side.

The pupil seats himself facing in the same direction as the back of the chair. While one should certainly avoid sitting at the very front edge of the chair, one should, nevertheless, be seated sufficiently forward not only to accommodate one's cello but also to have one's weight supported over the tripod formed by one's buttock and feet. With a rank beginner the most comfortable sitting height for playing and the appropriate height of the instrument in relation to his torso, must first be determined. Once these preliminaries have been dispensed with we ask him to hold the cello out in front of him with his left hand, seeing to it that the end-pin is anchored on the floor slightly to the right of centre. With his feet placed comfortably in front of the chair he then spreads his legs apart far enough to accommodate his instrument. He is now ready to let it simply drop into his lap. One's body should be roughly at a perpendicular angle to the floor while one lets one's cello drop into one's lap. Thus one should avoid any instinctive tendency of dropping one's head and body to the right in order to avoid the pegs and peg box. Instead, in order to avoid a collision with one's head, one should direct the neck of the cello slightly farther to the left while bringing it toward one's body. For this purpose one will have to open out one's left leg momentarily a bit farther until the cello rests in one's lap. The path of the instrument toward the player's body then describes an arc, momentarily deviating toward the left, and then dosing in toward his vertical axis. All, the while the teacher helps the pupil to maintain the primary head-neck-torso relationship. By taking care to follow this instruction one will nip in the bud any incipient tendency to develop the habit of dropping down to the right side.

The principal lesson of the manoeuvre just described is simply that the instrument is fitted to the body of the player and not vice versa. This is easily accomplished if one lets it drop into one's lap in the manner just described. Thus one need not 'grab' the cello and unwittingly contort oneself in the process.

The pupil is now asked to observe in the mirror the angle of his cello in relation to his body. If he has maintained the latter at a perpendicular angle to the floor, he will readily notice that his cello slants toward the left with strings and fingerboard forming diagonal lines toward ceiling and floor. Under those conditions the instrument is balanced and supported by the player's torso and left leg.

Since the cello is tilted slightly toward the left side the role of the left leg is simply to let the instrument rest against it so that it will not keel over. The right leg should touch the lower right bout of the cello only very lightly so that it will offer no appreciable resistance to the forward or backward movement of the cello discussed below. Furthermore, adherence to this precept will usually eliminate the pain and discomfort caused by the edge of the lower left corner block of the back of the cello digging into the player's left thigh. Sometimes an excessively sharp edge can be bothersome and should be smoothed out.

When one's body is at a perpendicular angle to the floor its centre of gravity will lie in its central axis. No excessive muscular effort will then be required in any part to maintain ones equilibrium. The pull of gravity is equalized on all sides. Placing the cello at a right angle to the floor with the player's body habitually slanting toward the right side forces an extra expenditure of muscular effort to maintain one's balance against the force of gravity.

However, our primary concern is not the correct sitting position for playing the cello, but rather the achievement of a dynamic balance which enables a player to maintain his equilibrium while moving about. While playing one is continually shifting one's weight. Long bow strokes and shifting of the left hand position will displace somewhat one's centre of gravity. Retaining one's balance while playing thus calls for sensitive adjustments in the position of the torso, in short for mobility. If one sits rigidly in a fixed position, any shift in one's centre of gravity while playing will force one to stiffen up further in order to maintain one's equilibrium. In other words stiffening establishes a static balance as opposed to the dynamic balance achieved through adjusting movements. Our initial concern with placing one's body at a perpendicular angle to the floor was not meant to imply, therefore, a rigid position. That angle is merely intended as the natural point of departure and arrival for movement.

To return to our starting procedure the pupil should be asked to observe in the mirror the direction in which his cello is facing. If he is still facing toward the left side of the mirror as instructed the cello will be facing more or less straight into the mirror. The degree to which the chair and player will have to face toward the left in order to allow the cello to face straight into the mirror will vary somewhat between different individuals. In any case under the conditions set forth here a player will be automatically turned slightly in the direction toward the strings and fingerboard of his cello. One will have no trouble reaching over to the A-string with one's bow arm. Even if one's arms are short one will still have length to spare when playing at the nut. In short there is no need to resort to the habitual postural twist in the direction of the fingerboard mentioned earlier.

Applying Leaning Forward to Cello Playing

In the case of beginners as soon as they have practised a few times dropping their instrument into their lap we would recommend introducing them right away to the voluntary movements functional to cello playing, discussed above, in order to instil in them from the very start a sense of mobility. The usefulness, under the right conditions, of leaning forward in cello playing has to do with the fact that the angle of the cello in relation to the body must differ somewhat for each string, if one is to remain in a position of mechanical advantage vis a vis one's instrument. This difference is naturally most pronounced between the two outer strings, i.e., the A and C strings.

We start out by introducing the beginner to some basic Alexandrian chairwork including leaning forward and coming back while maintaining the primary direction for lengthening and widening. After sufficient experience we repeat the same procedure with the cello in the pupils lap. We then ask him to observe in the mirror how leaning forward affects the angle of his cello in relation to his torso. He will readily notice that the right side of his instrument has rotated forward, the contact area between his left leg and his cello serving as the axis for this rotational movement.

What must be prevented in carrying out the foregoing manoeuvre is the prevalent habit of initiating the leaning forward movement with one's body instead of with one's head so that one's body may follow and lengthen. The novice will be inclined to push with his body against the cello either by collapsing forward over it or by bracing himself. However, one need not 'push' one's instrument at all. It will move on its own accord, provided one avoids squeezing it with one's legs.

Once a beginner has learned to hold the bow he will be ready to appreciate the practical function of leaning forward with one's cello. To that end let him sit again in the starting position with his body at a perpendicular angle to the floor and put his bow on the C-string with the contact point of bow hair and string in the upper half or at the tip of the bow. If his feet are still placed in front of the chair as they ought to be, the bow will frequently fail to clear his right leg. A common solution to this problem is to drop the right leg by placing the right foot behind the right chair leg. This can only be accomplished by raising the right heel off the floor and keeping the right toes permanently hyper-extended. In addition to the unnecessary tension imposed upon the right foot and leg another drawback to this solution is that this position vis a vis the cello puts one mechanically at a disadvantage for playing on the C-string. This becomes most readily apparent when one has to utilize the upper half of the bow, particularly in forte playing. The right arm, especially at the elbow, has to be extended backward and downward, thereby minimizing the muscular and gravitational support provided by the trunk for applying pressure onto the stick. This disadvantage is further aggravated, of course, if the player tends to list to the right while playing on the C-string, a habit frequently seen among cello students.

Now let the pupil place his bow once more on the C-string with the contact point of bow hair and string in the upper half of the bow and with both feet comfortably placed in front of the chair, then have him lean forward with his cello by means of Alexander's primary lengthening out movement. One will need to lean forward but a moderate amount before one's bow will clear the C-string completely. As one continues leaning farther forward, one will increasingly come into a position of mechanical advantage for bearing down on the C-string to the extent required. One's right arm will be more elevated in relation to the string when playing in the upper half of the bow. To help oneself further in achieving an intense forte or fortissimo one only needs to lean with one's instrument slightly toward the left so that one can bear down on the C-string in the direction of the left leg. The benefits of this manoeuvre are only fully realized if one maintains one's primary direction with one's feet resting comfortably in front of the chair.

Path of cello as it is dropped into play's lap.

For playing on the A-string under the most favorable conditions one only needs to move back to one's original position. This makes the A-string more readily accessible to one's bow without the necessity of twisting one's torso to the left. It also elevates the level of the A-string so that the bow will be able to clear the left leg more easily. In case more clearance is needed one can tilt the left side of one's cello slightly more forward with one's left hand.

In moving from a lower string level back to the A-string level care must be taken not to go beyond the perpendicular upright position. Many students and players have the tendency to lean back, which more or less automatically causes them to drop into a compensating crouch in order to keep their balance. To be sure, it is hard to determine cause and effect in this case, to identify the chicken and the egg, so to speak, since we are dealing here with a total pattern of misuse.

Pupils who habitually lean back with a compensating crouch provide an interesting example of faulty sensory appreciation. When with the aid of manual guidance they let themselves lengthen out by means of the primary movement into an upright position at a perpendicular angle to the floor, they invariably will feel that they are leaning forward. When actually doing so for playing on the lower strings the loss of the equalized pull of gravity on the trunk obtaining in the upright perpendicular position, is compensated by the increasing support of one's weight provided by one's instrument through the counter-pressure of the bow and left fingers against the strings.

Our next step is to let the pupil place his bow on the A-string with the contact point between string and bow hair in the middle or upper half of the bow. He then leans forward very slightly from his hips with head leading while silently rotating the bow so that the hair comes to rest momentarily on the string, then leans forward slightly farther while the bow hair comes to rest momentarily on the G-string, then leans slightly farther forward once more while the bow hair comes to rest on the C-string. The manoeuvre is then reversed with the pupil ending in the original position with the bow hair resting on the A-string.

The foregoing procedure demonstrates in a nut-shell how one can maintain oneself at all times in the most favorable position for playing on any of the four strings. Since for most music several, if not all, of the strings need to be employed the manoeuvre just described can help one to counteract to some extent any tendency to get rigidly stuck in one position. Naturally it would be patently absurd to attempt to move rapidly forward and back during rapid string crossing passages. Here one simply selects as the most favorable playing position the mean level for the particular strings being called for.

The tripodal support of the player's weight over buttock and feet allows for mobility. In the process of leaning forward the body's weight is increasingly shifted from buttock to feet. With good use and coordination present a cellist should be able to get on his feet with ease even while playing. Getting in and out of a chair as practised in chairwork can be adapted as a test of the player's mobility. One begins again seated upright with the bow contacting the A-string halfway between nut and tip and the left hand touching the strings as shown in the photos below, then gradually lean forward with the bow silently rotating over the strings as before. Upon reaching the C-string level one continues leaning farther forward until one's entire body weight has been shifted onto one's feet. If necessary one can slide the latter closer to the chair to facilitate the transfer of the body's weight. The bow continues to contact the C-string while rising from the chair with head leading and body following and also after having attained one's full stature standing. The whole process is then simply reversed in accordance with Alexandrian principles until the original starting position with bow contacting the A-string has been attained. All of this is best done in front of a mirror for close self-observation. The manoeuvre just described also incorporates in modified form the procedure of 'monkey' inasmuch as it calls for compliant wrist, elbow and shoulder joints while it is being carried out.

Applying Swinging from Side to Side to Cello Playing

This movement may be regarded as a natural follow-through of the body to the swinging movement of the bow arm. The follow-through motions of the body to swinging arms may be classified into two types. The most common type is exemplified by actions like the swinging of a baseball bat, a tennis racket or a golf club. Here the natural follow-through of the body is in the direction of the swing or stroke of the arms. A second type is exemplified by actions like waving a flag or swinging a lantern. Here the natural follow-through of the body is in the opposite direction to the arm swing. We would submit that the latter also applies to the bow stroke. It calls for an antagonistic swing of one's body as the most natural and advantageous follow-through and counterbalancing action. It enables a cellist to keep himself in a state of dynamic equilibrium and tends to happen more or less automatically when there is no fixture. Especially in short, rapid bow strokes the tiny, responsive swings of one's body should be purely reactive. The best advice in this case is, maintain your primary direction and hang loose. In the case of longer, slower bow strokes we would advocate the conscious employment of the antagonistic, counterbalancing body swing. If performed while maintaining one's primary direction for lengthening and widening the lateral swinging movement is conducive to maintaining a sense of freedom and mobility as well as getting into the 'swing' of the music.

7 Paradigmatic Motion Patterns for the Body in Cello Playing

If as a cellist one attempts to systematically incorporate one's personal experience with Alexander work into one's playing as a means of achieving greater freedom and flexibility, one is initially apt to feel at a loss not only as to where to begin but also as to how to maintain one's 'means-whereby' in the welter of the ongoing musical and technical demands and the unforeseen vagaries of musical performance. It is all very well to be counselled to inhibit and to continue letting one's head go forward and up and one's body to lengthen and widen while playing, to maintain one's direction, to stay in the moment, to avoid a fixture, to keep in motion and let one's head lead one's body and so on. Such counsel seems too generalized, lacking the precision needed to cope with the countless very concrete stimuli bombarding one's brain from within and without during the heat of battle. If internal and external mobility are, indeed, called for, what motions besides maintaining optimum mobility of one's breathing apparatus are appropriate at any given moment? This requires split-second decisions. There is no time to think it over. On the other hand it hardly seems satisfactory to leave such decisions up to chance. In the light of our foregoing investigation, however, we will be able to establish some sense and order out of the sheer infinite and bewildering variety of body movements available to the player. The maze of endless possibilities can be transformed into a network of limited and readily surveyable choices.

As mentioned earlier, given a cellist's good self-use the third of the basic categories of functional movement in cello playing cited above can be allowed to take care of itself without any conscious intervention. The first and second categories, however, can be applied and combined in a constructive conscious manner. In doing so we end up with seven motion patterns which can be readily learned with practice, lend themselves ideally for the cultivation of Alexander's primary lengthening-widening movement, and serve as a paradigm for all possible functional motion patterns called for in cello playing. The size of any constructive conscious body movement for such playing will vary with the length of the bow stroke. We have designed our seven paradigmatic motion patterns so as to always require a full bow stroke, reasoning that the largest movements will impress themselves most readily on a novice's kinesthesia.

The first of these patterns is applicable to bow strokes executed on a single string. It consists of the lateral swinging movement of the torso in antagonism to these strokes.

The player's central axis in upright position is indicated in this and the subsequent figures by a black dot. Thus in this as well as the subsequent motion patterns the player in starting position will be leaning either to the right or left of center. To encourage the sense of swinging we would recommend sweeping, ringing, whole bow strokes executed thusly on each string.

Care should be taken that one lets oneself lengthen over the alternating weight-bearing parts of one's buttock with one's head acting as lead. The crescendi and diminuendi should be primarily achieved by respectively speeding up and slowing down the bow stroke. A further refinement of the procedure is to let the direction of the bow stroke describe an elongated, supine figure eight as shown.

The purpose of this configuration of the bow stroke is to make the movement of the bow arm a continuous one, uninterrupted by the changing directions of the bow. Its value lies in cultivating smooth quasi-imperceptible bow changes. As such it provides an excellent test for the prevention of fixtures, notably locked shoulders and elbows. The bow changes in this configuration can be effected simply by letting gravity take over, i.e., the curvilinear change of direction of the bow stroke results from letting the arm drop slightly. At the nut the bow should be held as lightly as possible.

The remaining six paradigmatic motion patterns combine in various ways the lateral swing with leaning forward from, and back to, the upright position, thus converting their respective horizontal and vertical vectors into diagonal ones directed either to the right or left. Each of these motion patterns subdivides into two complementary mirror versions of each other. Their diagrammatic and notational representations are as shown.

As can be gathered from their notational representation above, these motion patterns are initially to be rehearsed on open strings. After sufficient familiarity they are to be combined with various left-hand finger combinations in different positions so as to simulate more completely the actual performing situation in which one has to keep track of both hands and arms in action as well as one's overall self-use. These combinations have not been included in this presentation because a discussion of the application of Alexandrian principles to bow and left hand technique, not to mention the use of head and eyes, breathing, as well as to musical interpretation and communication could easily take up several additional articles.

Once the above illustrated paradigmatic motion patterns have become second nature one will always know instantly in what direction to move while playing, because whatever the appropriate functional motion at any given moment of performance, it will always turn out to be a variant or derivative of these patterns. Being instantly at one's command they can then serve as ongoing stimuli for maintaining or renewing one's Alexandrian directions for lengthening and widening.

The expressive gestures of most performing instrumentalists, compared to those of professional actors, are by and large, with some notable exceptions, rather uncontrolled and thus rarely rise above the level of mere mannerisms. But musical performance is, in fact, putting on an act even when a restrained and dignified demeanour is called for. With the systematic employment of the functional motion patterns demonstrated above ones expressive gestures or musical choreography in cello playing can be readily superimposed on these patterns or integrated with them. Given the essential pre-condition of the Alexandrian means-whereby the functional movements and expressive gestures can then be harmonized rather than work at cross-purposes.

FOOTNOTES

1. See Dart, Raymond A., "Voluntary Musculature in the Human Body," first published in the British Journal of Physical Medicine, Vol 13, (1950) pp265-268. Reprinted in Raymond A. Dart on Skill, Poise and the Alexander Technique, Centerline Press, Long Beach, pp97-104 (see especially p104).

2. See Alexander, F. Matthias, "New Method of Vocal Respiratory Re-education" which first appeared in London in 1907. Reprinted in Direction, A Journal on the Alexander Technique, Vol 1, (4), Fyncot Pty Ltd, Sydney, (1988) p142

ABOUT THE WRITER

Eckhart Richter is a professional cellist teaching at the School of Music of Georgia State University in Atlanta, U.S.A. In 1965, suffering from a severe and chronic back condition aggravated by cello playing, he began lessons in the Alexander Technique with the late Goddard Binkley. From 1969-1972 he stayed in Lincoln, Nebraska to study with Marjorie Barstow and subsequently returned to many of her annual summer workshops.

He consulted and took lessons with Frank Pierce Jones in connection with his doctoral dissertation, The Application of the Alexander Technique to Cello Playing a copy of which is kept in the F.P. Jones Archives at Tufts University in Boston. The dissertation and related articles are cited in the annotated bibliographies on the Technique by Julia Priest and Phyllis Sanfilippo. His article, "The Application Approach: Innovation or Heresy?" appeared in the Winter 1988 issue of Alexander Review Vol. 3 (3). Richter has had lessons with numerous other Alexander teachers over the years, including Walter Carrington, David Gorman, and Ronald Dennis, Director of the recently established Atlanta Center for the Alexander Technique.

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