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Posts from the ‘Marjorie Barstow’ Category

A Meeting Of Minds

Dear Bruce,

My warmest congratulations for your inspiring book. Your view, as usual, honours the work of FM Alexander and its evolution in the most human and poetic way, but also places you in a unique Alexander world. A world that you have created and inspired, making it, thus, for us, your readers, so much easier to imagine, fantasize, dream about.

The links with real, human situations are so powerful. At the same time, the links with Alexandrian notions create such strong parables through which we can expand our understanding of the work. Thank you for this gem.

Dear Bruce, upon re-reading your book, it feels like many haiku lines. Thank you, again, for the inspiration, the revelation and the hope.

Christos,

I am so glad that, through my book, you were able to enter into my world, and hopefully I have entered in some way into yours. It is a gift to feel understood. Thank you for that. Christos, the lines that feel most like haikus to you, would you be kind enough to share them with me? And lastly, may I use your words here to help interest people in my book?

Bruce

Bruce,

Please feel free to use my words – I purchased your book from Jean at Mouritz’s and there is no space for byers’ comments as there is on Amazon, so I would be delighted if I knew it helped potential readers. Now, as to the particular lines, haha, I’ll have to keep notes when I read it through for the third time, but some I can remember as I leaf through it:

Christos,

Thank you. You may just be one of my best students. There is a story of a man who was poor who lived on the third floor whose patio looked out over the courtyard of a tai chi master. The man loved what he saw and did all he could to do what the teacher was doing. He practiced a lot. One day the man was in the park doing tai chi and the tai chi masters sees him, watches, walks over and asks him who his teacher is. He tells the master that he is and explains how he learned from him. The master told him that he was his best student.

You usually start and end your chapters in these (especially in the second half of the book), which I find very enticing and attractive, like on page 211 “Theology to me is not spiritual; it’s tangible. It’s earthy. It’s physical. It’s tactual” and I absolutely love the fullstops. They are so much more musical than semicolons.

I have no training in writing. None. I try to read good writers. That’s all. Maybe this has worked to my advantage in some odd way.

Another one that was striking was on breathing, page 75 “Breath is given”…and later, “And wait without waiting, until you know…It’s not you.”

Simply my interpretation and my wording of Alexander’s quote; “I see, at last, that if I don’t breathe, I breathe.”

On page 102 the way you end Mr Yamamoto’s experience also feels like a haiku together with a bit of Bach….Johann Sebastian Bach used this technique of gradual simplification and decrease of his material like you do in the last paragraph. I had never seen it in writing but it has quite a theatrical effect.

You know, I have felt myself to be an artist in search of his medium. Gymnastics was as close as I could get as a kid. My dance teachers were often impressed by my musicality though I could not read a note of music.

Also the paragraph where you talk about the two bodies (p. 109) is written in prose but with a very musical rhythm.

You see, Bruce, being a musician and having Greek as mother tongue, it is very difficult for me to ignore prose written in English that doesn’t resemble other English writing. And your writing doesn’t feel English to me. It feels international.

That’s funny. I often tell people English is my second language, and I can’t remember what my first one was. Also teaching via translators for so many years has changed how I put sentences together and has also forced me to distill my vocabulary, choosing simplicity over complexity. One can’t run on and on when teaching with a translator. One must be succinct.  

We, the Alexander Alliance Europe are in our planning stages of holding our 2020 Fall Retreat in Greece. Every three years we like to conduct that retreat outside of Germany. I will keep you abreast of the details should you be interested. In the meantime, if you can make your way to our school in Germany you would be free to study with us at no charge if you would share with us your learning from Don Weed. We love having guests.

Hope the book travels through your readers’ hands into at least as interesting places as I have taken it so far.

I hope so too. What an honor for me to have someone let my work in so deeply.

All the best to you.

Christos

And to you,

Bruce

Tim Soar’s Review of Teaching By Hand/Learning By Heart for STAT News

It has been over 40 years since I first began studying with Marjorie Barstow, and this fact reminds me of a teaching story.

Within the tradition of Chanoyu, Japanese tea ceremony, it is said that for the first 10 years a student should learn to do everything exactly the way his teacher does. In the second 10 years the student should continue to do everything exactly the way his teacher does, but should begin to wonder why his teacher does what he does the way he does it. In the third decade, the student should begin to change ever so slightly how he does what he does to suit who he is as a person.  And in the fourth decade, his way should be a different from his teachers as night is from day.

And so it was and is for me now. I am as different from Marj as night is from day. My vocabulary is not the same. I use my hands very differently. My way of relating to people is as warm as Marj’s way was cool. My pedagogy as a teacher trainer is as formal as Marj’s was informal. And yet, at the same time, there remains something quintessentially Marj inside of me. I pass on her sayings, her spirit, her understanding of Alexander’s work. I do my best to inspire others the way Marj inspired me.

Tim Soar begins his review referencing Michael Frederick’s description of me as “one of the foremost representatives of Marjorie Barstow’s lineage.” He goes on to note that his experience of now-senior teachers who apprenticed with Marjorie Barstow is that they are as diverse in their approaches to the Work as were the first generation teachers who trained with F.M.

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With all do respect and love for Marj, my work is now, for better and worse, only my work. No one else’s. Yes, I am part of the Alexander/Barstow lineage, but I cannot claim to represent Marj’s way of working. How Alexander taught is gone forever, and how Marj taught is gone forever. That is the way of it, and the way it should be.

The work continues.

Here’s Tim’s review. Enjoy.

Review of Teaching by Hand, Learning by Heart

Tim Soar

Pubished in STAT News, May 2018

Teaching by Hand, Learning by Heart offers the reader a “fly on the wall” view of Bruce Fertman’s very particular way of teaching the Alexander Technique. Michael Frederick’s comment on the back cover describes Bruce as “one of the foremost representatives of Marjorie Barstow’s lineage”, but in my experience the now-senior teachers who trained with Marjorie Barstow are at least as diverse in their approaches to the Work as were the first generation teachers who trained with FM. In any case, although Bruce acknowledges “Marj” as his principal mentor, he points out that he also learned from four other first generation teachers, whose differences he clearly values. Whatever the reader’s previous experience, there is much of value to be found in this book, perhaps particularly for teachers who would like to develop their work with groups beyond the introductory level, towards mixed ability, more advanced, or specialised audiences. Bruce makes the most convincing case that I have come across for the positive advantages of learning the Alexander Technique in a group setting.

Part One: The Work at Hand, sets out the field of enquiry – the subject matter of the Alexander Technique: Choice, Primary Control, Sensory Appreciation, Use, Non-Interference … all presented in Bruce’s own vocabulary. One particularly telling example of which is the idea not of “misusing” oneself, but of “mistreating” oneself, with all the ethical impact of that word fully intended.

Part Two: Student Centred Teaching, leads the reader anecdotally through a large number of individual lessons, either one-to-one or in group settings. Some of these lessons last a whole chapter, others just a few sentences. This format gives a lively “person-centred” way of presenting the almost endless scope of our Work, in a way that hardly ever finds its way into print.

The illustrations are unusual – avoiding the conventional “head back and down”, “head forward and up” illustrations. The nearest thing to that is a photo of a cowboy wrestling a steer (you have to read it …). The other illustrations are split mostly three ways: firstly, very characteristic photos of Bruce working with students in workshop settings; secondly, half a dozen illustrations from Albinus on Anatomy, the series of beautiful, accurate, lively, whimsical-but-layered-with-meaning anatomical engravings published in 1747, which Bruce uses as a primary source for his anatomical and body mapping work, and thirdly, and perhaps most compellingly (the handful of colour-printed pages of the book are reserved for this third category), art illustrations: paintings, sculpture, a thrown pot, landscapes … One of the main ideas here is that we do not tend look at a Renaissance painting, or a sculpture of a human figure in a way that emphasises postural criticism. On the subject of criticism, Bruce quotes Rumi: “Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing there is a field; I’ll meet you there”. Instead we see what the figure, through its implied movements and reactions, expresses. Bruce suggests – and this seems to me to be the absolute epicentre of his teaching – that we would do well to learn to look at people as we look at works of art: to see the beauty before the body-mechanics, and to empathise with (and thereby become able to help) a person’s Use by seeing how they express themselves.

Because of the structure of the book as a series of vignettes, a lot of ground is covered quickly, and it is not possible for me to list them all. However, I shall choose three particular themes that seem to me to be characterise Bruce’s understanding of the Work, and which I personally found to be good. Firstly, he does not try to make it easy. He says (in understatement) that the Alexander Technique needs “practice”, that a good teacher has, necessarily, to be “living the work every day”, and that “This road is longer than any one person’s life”. Secondly, he is a dyed-in-the-wool non-dualist. He does not talk about “how we use our bodies”, neither (more subtly) does he talk about the “mind body connection” (which always seems to me like approaching psychophysical unity from an essentially dualist perspective, unnecessarily making a simple thing complicated). Instead he simply and straightforwardly treats each person as a whole. This gives his work access – when appropriate – to a student’s emotional life in a straightforward and unforced way, as a natural aspect of their Use, and very much part of what we, as teachers, are there for. For example, he is likely to ask a student who says that he wants to relax, “How do you know you are not relaxed?” to which the student replies “I feel nervous.” This then opens the way to the psychophysical subject matter of the lesson. It’s as simple (and profound) as that. Thirdly, he places great emphasis on learning to use one’s senses in a skilled and healthy way, asking “What would happen if we were able to go from having adequate tactile, kinaesthetic and proprioceptive senses, to having extraordinary tactile, kinaesthetic and proprioceptive senses?”. “Feeling” is not, for him, a word to be avoided, or the exclusive polar opposite of “thinking”. Right at the beginning of the book he tells us of a conversation with an anaesthetist: “You say to people, you’re not going to feel a thing, and I say to people, you are about to feel everything.” In one chapter Bruce suggests a series of sensory investigations, meditations, Directions – I don’t know what to call them – leading the experimenter towards more subtle and more colourful sensory experiences. An important extension of this thinking is that humans-sensing-other-humans is a vital part of life – “To be means to be with other people.” – and an essential part of the Alexander Technique. Interestingly, for a teacher who does so much of his work in groups, individual hands on work is very central to his teaching. He clearly thinks of Alexander work essentially as partner-work, with all the subtle and paradoxical give and take of leading-in-order-to-follow, and following-in-order-to-lead that subtle partner work always embodies (one chapter tells the story of a lesson with an accomplished Tango couple), and he understands what he sometimes calls “high touch” (exemplified by the best Alexander hands on work) as one of the highest expressions of our shared humanity: “Touch … is our sense of togetherness, of closeness, of intimacy, of union and communion.”

Bruce freely uses stories, autobiography, quoted aphorisms, illustrations, poetic language and a wide range of metaphors to set the scene and to make his points, and this is surely the only Alexander book with a Japanese glossary! In writing such a book, the author is necessarily just guessing at a reader’s connection with a particular image – unlike presenting ideas in a workshop situation where communication is two-way. I imagine that each reader will have their own spectrum of recognition: some points seeming no more than common sense, others interesting and informative, some concepts may be outside their experience, and others still, less attractive – metaphors that simply don’t work for them. That is the risk, consciously taken, in writing a book that seeks to convey the flavour of a very personal experience. For me, it is interesting to think that each reader’s spectrum will, most likely, align itself with quite different themes and images in the book.

The greatest strength perhaps of this new addition to our bibliography is that it clearly and repeatedly shows us (as we as teachers and committed trainees naturally already know) that “Alexander’s work, when it works, can work miracles; quiet, little miracles that can change a person’s life forever.”

 

The Working World – Knowing How we are Being as we Do What we are Doing – 29.04.2018, 10am – 5:30pm – Zurich

AS we do what we are doing. That little work as is the challenge. We usually notice how we were being after we did what we did.

“I was so afraid of being late to work this morning that I ran around like a chicken with my head cut off, got to work and was already exhausted.”

“God, I was really killing myself when I was at my computer trying to finish that project on time. My neck is aching and so are my wrists.”

“You know, I was impatient, snobby, and not as helpful as I could have been in that meeting. I feel terrible about it.”

Of course, we also have good days when we are not late, when we don’t kill ourselves working, when we enjoy our work and the people around us. But what can we do for ourselves when we feel out of balance, off our game, out of sync?

Not only possessing psychological and communication skills, but somatic skills as well can help a great deal. This workshop is dedicated to acquiring the somatic skills needed to better handle ourselves in trying situations in the workplace.

Applying the principles found within the Alexander Technique and applying them in our work life, whatever that life is, be it office work, manual work, house work, or looking for work, bring yourself and your stories about your working world to me and get ready to have a thoroughly enjoyable and enlightening time.

Whether you are new to Alexander’s work or currently studying, whether you are training or even if you are a teacher of the technique, I hope you will consider joining me for a day of playing seriously, and seriously play-ing, with the principles underlying Alexander’s remarkable work.

DETAILS

Date: 29.04.2018, 10am – 5:30pm

Location: Technopark Zürich (close to train stop Hardbrücke)

Course fee: CHF 160.- (Students CHF 125.-)

Workshop language: English (translation to German possible)

Individual lessons: (CHF 100.–/45 min.) can be arranged on Monday, 30.04.2018 and Tuesday, 01.05.2018.

Additionally Bruce will give an Alexander Technique workshop entitled «Eradicating Blocks – A Workshop For Performing Artists» on Saturday, 28.04. 2018.

Organizers and assistant teachers: Magdalena and Johannes Gassner

For more information and to register call: +41 77 475 50 27 or write to m.gassner@alexanderalliance.de

To learn more about Bruce Fertman, the Alexander Technique or the Alexander Alliance:

http://brucefertman.com

http://www.alexanderalliance.org/

About Bruce Fertman

In Bruce’s class you feel as if you are sitting by a deep, soft lake. His pace and patience, his quiet confidence allows people to unfold and open layer by layer. The superfluous falls away leaving only life’s inner vitality effortlessly expressing itself through you.

He is the embodiment of his work. His touch is like a butterfly settling down on the very turning point of your soul. And then you know, “That’s who I am, that is who I could be.”

M. Tueshaus, Alexander Teacher / Tango Teacher/ Equestrian

With 55 years experience as a movement artist and educator, Bruce brings a lifetime of training to his work as an Alexander teacher. For the past 30 years Bruce has traveled annually throughout Europe, Asia, and the United States coaching performing artists and helping people from all walks of life.

Bruce has worked with members of the Berlin Philharmonic, Radio France, The National Symphony in Washington DC, the Honolulu Symphony and for the Curtis Institute of Music. He taught for the Five College Dance Program in Amherst, Massachusetts for 13 years, and for the Tango community in Buenos Aires. For 6 years, he taught movement for actors at Temple and Rutgers University.

In 1982, Bruce co-founded the Alexander Alliance International, an intergenerational, multicultural community/school, the first Alexander teacher training program inspired by the work of Marjorie Barstow.

For ten years Bruce trained as a gymnast with Olympic coaches, and with Dan Millman, receiving a full scholarship to Penn State University. A professional modern dancer for 12 years, he holds a Master’s degree in Modern Dance and Movement Re-education at Temple University. For 16 years Bruce apprenticed with and assisted Marjorie L. Barstow, the first person formally certified by F.M. Alexander to teach his work.

Bruce studied in New York City at the Shr Jung Institute and in Philadelphia with Cheng man Ching’s six senior American students for 8 years, and also for 8 years with Shuji Maruyama who, as a boy, lived and trained with Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido. Bruce was awarded a scholarship to study at the Uresenke School of Tea in Kyoto, Japan, with Iemoto Soshitsu Sen, the 15th generation grand tea master. He studied Argentine Tango in Buenos Aires, Berlin, and Rome. Bruce trained in Kyudo, Zen Archery, in Osaka, Japan where he lives four months a year. Four months a year he is on the road teaching in Europe and Asia, and four months a year Bruce lives in Northern, New Mexico and writes.

He is the author of  Teaching By Hand/Learning By Heart.

 

Eradicating Blocks – A Workshop In The Alexander Technique For Performing Artists – 28.04.2018, 10am – 5:30pm – Zurich

You are not here to acquire skills but to eradicate blocks. – Jerzy Grotowski 

It is your music, dance, or theatre teacher’s job to help you acquire the skills you need to be a fine artist. My job is to help you become aware of how you interfere with yourself as you work toward acquiring those skills, and to show you how you can release that  interference. In other words, my job is to teach you how not to work against yourself and against what you are working to achieve.

Often the problem is not that we are doing to little, but that we are doing too much, working too hard, over trying, over efforting, muscling our way through.

“Fluid as melting ice.

Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear? 

Can you remain unmoving until the right action arises by itself?

Less and less will you need to force things.”

 -Lao Tzu/Stephen Mitchell

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In this workshop we will learn how to become less stiff and more fluid. We will learn how not to push, not to force. Through Alexander’s work we will begin learning how to be at once, relaxed and ready, soft and strong, light and substantial, stable and flexible, peaceful and lively when we are practicing and when we are performing.

This workshop is open to amateur and professional artists alike. Bring what you need in order to do your work, your instruments, your dancing shoes, your monologues. Also, those who do not consider themselves artists but whose jobs entail an element of performance, such as public speaking, lecturing, leading meetings are also welcome to participate.

No prior experience necessary. People of all ages welcome. Workshop size limited.

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DETAILS

Date: 28.04.2018, 10am – 5:30pm

Location: Technopark Zürich (close to train stop Hardbrücke)

Course fee: CHF 160.- (Students CHF 125.-)

Workshop language: English (translation to German possible)

Individual lessons: (CHF 100.–/45 min.) can be arranged on Monday, 30.04.2018 and Tuesday, 01.05.2018.

Additionally, Bruce will give an Alexander Technique workshop entitled «The Working World – Knowing How We are Being as we Do What We are Doing» on Sunday, 29.04.2018.

Organizers and assistant teachers: Magdalena and Johannes Gassner

For more information and to register call: +41 77 475 50 27 or write to m.gassner@alexanderalliance.de

To learn more about Bruce Fertman, the Alexander Technique or the Alexander Alliance:

http://brucefertman.com

http://www.alexanderalliance.org/

About Bruce Fertman

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In Bruce’s class you feel as if you are sitting by a deep, soft lake. His pace and patience, his quiet confidence allows people to unfold and open layer by layer. The superfluous falls away leaving only life’s inner vitality effortlessly expressing itself through you.

He is the embodiment of his work. His touch is like a butterfly settling down on the very turning point of your soul. And then you know, “That’s who I am, that is who I could be.”

M. Tueshaus, Alexander Teacher / Tango Teacher/ Equestrian

With 55 years experience as a movement artist and educator, Bruce brings a lifetime of training to his work as an Alexander teacher. For the past 30 years Bruce has traveled annually throughout Europe, Asia, and the United States coaching performing artists and helping people from all walks of life.

Bruce has worked with members of the Berlin Philharmonic, Radio France, The National Symphony in Washington DC, the Honolulu Symphony and for the Curtis Institute of Music. He taught for the Five College Dance Program in Amherst, Massachusetts for 13 years, and for the Tango community in Buenos Aires. For 6 years, he taught movement for actors at Temple and Rutgers University.

In 1982, Bruce co-founded the Alexander Alliance International, an intergenerational, multicultural community/school, the first Alexander teacher training program inspired by the work of Marjorie Barstow.

For ten years Bruce trained as a gymnast with Olympic coaches, and with Dan Millman, receiving a full scholarship to Penn State University. A professional modern dancer for 12 years, he holds a Master’s degree in Modern Dance and Movement Re-education at Temple University. For 16 years Bruce apprenticed with and assisted Marjorie L. Barstow, the first person formally certified by F.M. Alexander to teach his work.

Bruce studied in New York City at the Shr Jung Institute and in Philadelphia with Cheng man Ching’s six senior American students for 8 years, and also for 8 years with Shuji Maruyama who, as a boy, lived and trained with Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido. Bruce was awarded a scholarship to study at the Uresenke School of Tea in Kyoto, Japan, with Iemoto Soshitsu Sen, the 15th generation grand tea master. He studied Argentine Tango in Buenos Aires, Berlin, and Rome. Bruce trained in Kyudo, Zen Archery, in Osaka, Japan where he lives four months a year. Four months a year he is on the road teaching in Europe and Asia, and four months a year Bruce lives in Northern, New Mexico and writes.

He is the author of  Teaching By Hand/Learning By Heart.

AUSTRIA – High Touch – hohe Berührungskompetenz –  eine zertifizierte Weiterbildung in Alexandertechnik für alle, die mit Berührung arbeiten – Nov. 2018 – Juli 2019 in Villach, Österreich

HIGH TOUCH – hohe Berührungskompetenz

Zum Glück gibt es auf der Welt viele Menschen, die anderen Sorge tragen. Viele von uns unterstützen, bewegen, nähren, unterrich­ten oder rehabilitieren andere direkt durch Berührung.

Diese von der Alexander Alliance International zertifizierte berufliche Weiter­bildung in Alexander­technik ist für all diejenigen konzipiert, die in ihrer Arbeit ihre Hände benutzen, um anderen zu  helfen. Dies umfasst z.B. Physio-/Ergotherapeu­tInnen, LogopädInnen, Alten-/ Kranken­­­pflegerInnen, Masseure, ÄrztInnen, Tanz-, Bewegungs- und Körper­thera­­peutInnen, Yoga-/ Qigong-/ KampfkunstlehrerInnen.

F.M. Alexander entwickelte eine ganz besondere Art der Berührung, die es ihm ermöglichte, anderen zu vermitteln, wie man Richtung und Unter­stützung in sich selber finden kann. Mit Hilfe seiner Hände brachte er seinen SchülerInnen bei, wieder in Kontakt zu kommen mit der uns allen angeborenen Fähig­keit, uns angenehm und frei zu bewe­gen. Und dies ohne den Einsatz von Druck oder Kraft. Für die meisten fühlte sich das an wie Magie. Aber das war es nicht. Es war Kompe­tenz. Es war Technik. Es war “high touch“ – hohe Berührungs­kompetenz.

In dieser Weiterbildung werden Bruce Fertman und Robyn Avalon 90 Jahre gemeinsamer Erfahrung in Alexandertechnik mit uns teilen. Sie werden uns vermitteln, wie wir unsere Hände so einsetzen können, dass wir anderen helfen, freier, kraftvoller und auch anmutiger zu werden.

Du wirst von dieser Weiterbildung das Wissen mitnehmen, wie du dir bei der Arbeit besser selber Sorge tragen kannst. Wir können mit unseren Händen keine Unterstützung, Fürsorge, Beschwer­de­­­freiheit, Kraft und Gelassenheit vermitteln, wenn wir nicht selbst unterstützt, gut versorgt, beschwerdefrei, kraftvoll und gelassen sind. Wir werden dir helfen, zu lernen, wie du dies für dich selber findest.

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Du wirst diese Weiterbildung mit mehr Selbstvertrauen, mehr Fähigkeiten und einem tieferen Verständnis von Berührung abschließen. Deine Hände werden präziser, empfänglicher, neugieriger, kommunikativer und effektiver sein.

Weiterbildungs-Details

Die Weiterbildung umfasst 100 Stunden.

Termine:

  1. Block: 01.-04. November 2018
  2. Block: 04.-07. April 2019
  3. Block: 05.-08. September 2019
  4. Block: 31.10.-03. November 2019

LehrerInnen:

Bruce Fertman (1.+4. Block)

Robyn Avalon (2.+3. Block)

Kosten:         1.600 EUR (Frühbucher bis 30.06.2018)

1.800 EUR (regulärer Preis)

Ort:              Seminarhaus IN bewegung

Ossiacherstr. 93, 9523 Villach, Österreich

Informationen/Anmeldung:

Andrea Stitzel, tel. +43-699-18192954

E-Mail: andreastitzel@a1.net

Übernachtung im Seminarraum möglich (€10/Nacht)

Über Robyn Avalon

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Robyn studiert die Arbeit von F.M. Alexander seit mehr als 40 Jahren. Sie ist Gründungs­direktorin der Contemporary Alexander School, der US-amerikanischen Zweigstelle der Alexander Alliance International. Zusätz­lich ist sie zentrale Lehrkraft der Alexander Alliance Schulen in Deutschland und Japan. Im Sommer gehört sie zum Lehrkörper der renommierten Meadowmount School of Music.

Ihre private Praxis beinhaltet eine ganz eigene Mischung aus zeitgenössischer Alexander­technik, Craniosacral Arbeit, Visceral Unwinding, Deep Imagery, Matrix Energetics®, und ein lebenslanges Studium verschiedenster intuitiver Fähigkeiten. Und hat so eigene Workshops entwickelt, die sie weltweit unterrichtet, wie z.B. Living in a Body™, einen Zertifizierungskurs in Bodymapping, und die postgraduierten Workshop-Serie Ways of Knowing, in der Intuition und Imagination zugänglich gemacht und in den eigenen Entwicklungsprozess integriert werden.

Über Bruce Fertman

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Bruce ist Gründer der Alexander Alliance International. Er hatte das Privileg mit einer Reihe von Alexander-LehrerInnen der ersten Generation zu lernen: als langjähriger Schüler von Marjorie Barstow, der ersten von F. M. Alexander zertifi­zierten Lehrerin sowie mit Richard M. Gummere jr., Elisa­beth Walker, Erika Whittaker und Catherine Merrick. In seinen Unterricht lässt Bruce seine Erfahrun­gen aus mehr als 50-jähriger Beschäftigung mit verschiedenen Bewegungs­künsten ein­fließen, u.a. Turnen, Modern Dance, Tai Chi, Aikido, Kyudo (Bogenschießen) und Tango.

In seinen Workshops in Europa, Asien und den USA arbeitete er mit Tänzern, Sängern, Instrumentalisten (u.a. Berliner Philhar­moniker, Radio France, The National Symphony Orchestra) sowie Menschen aus vielen anderen Berufsgruppen.

 

 

The Voice Of The World (A revision of Singing In the Rain)

I remember a class I took with Marjory Barlow in 1988. She was explaining how at first you give these words, these phrases to your student knowing they will have little or no idea of what you are talking about. But then, gradually, through the subtle and clear use of your hands you give your student an experience of what those words and phrases actually mean. The student mentally and physically couples them together and voilà, when she or he thinks the words, without having to really do anything, the words themselves trigger an effortless response, a response that comes to feel almost reflex-like, a response that is at once supportive, organizing and liberating. It just happens, like typing in a domain name of where you want to go, clicking on search and, presto, there it is, and there you are.

It’s ingenious really, and effective. As one continues to study with teachers, and on one’s own, which is essential, this kinesthetic coupling of the words with this effortlessly revitalizing reflex-like response becomes ever more wedded, ever more precise and powerful, which is why having hands on work through one’s whole life is a good idea, which is why being part of an Alexander community is such a good idea, which is what I have chosen to do, which has been a blessing beyond words.

Alexander referred to these words, these phrases, as directions. He writes, direction is…”the process involved in projecting messages from the brain to the mechanisms and in conducting the energy necessary to the use of those mechanism.”  By mechanisms I assume Alexander is referring to this ever so delicate but dynamic reorganization of the head in relation to the neck, and of the head and neck’s relationship to the entire torso, and of the head, neck, and torso’s relationship, as a flexibly working unit, to the arms and legs.

If you are an Alexander teacher or a long term student of Alexander’s work all of this is old hat. Sorry, but I am going somewhere and need to begin at the beginning.

Now these words are a shorthand, an abbreviation for a complex psychophysical happening within us, and yet they they still strike me as a bit long and cumbersome. Let the neck be free so that the head can go forward and up so that the back can lengthen and widen, all together, one after the other. And then there are secondary directions that speak to the limbs as well, to the heels, knees and hips and to the elbows, wrists, and fingers, and to the tongue, (which I see as limb-like; think of a frog.)

It takes a bit of time to stream through these directions, especially at first. When we get proficient, perhaps just a few seconds. Marj Barstow, one of my mentors, once said to a student who was belaboring the process, “I wish I could say all these words to you at the same time, instead of one after the other.” Marj understood that this sequence of instructions had to be played more like a fluid arpeggio on a guitar rather than a separate collection of notes.

The very same day I had a class with Marjory Barlow I also had a class with Wilford Barlow. I loved watching and listening to them both. Wilford deferred to his wife saying, “Now this is just my idea. If you want to know how it really works, ask Marjory.” But I loved Wilford’s ideas, and his hands too. He said something like, (it was long ago), “After a time the words are not always necessary. The change we want can come about without them.” I wasn’t sure but my guess was that after we had for many years used our conscious mind, and with it language to reeducate our kinesthesia we could come to trust it more and more and simply let it work for us. Perhaps our kinesthesia is like a child who for many years needs guidance, but then gradually grows up into a capable and responsible adult who no longer needs looking after all the time.

Years have flown by since then, 30 years to be exact. I’ve had some time to think about this on my own, and so now I will share with you my thoughts on the matter.

Let’s imagine you are on the road, traveling in some foreign country. A cold snap blows in unexpectedly. You decide to buy a scarf and a pair of gloves. You find something you like, a bit expensive and so decide to charge it on your credit card. You open your wallet and notice your Discover card is missing. You pick up your phone and know their phone number because their phone number happens to spell DISCOVER. So instead of having to remember 8 numbers in sequence, you only have to remember one word.

What if I could find one word that could contain for me the full sequence of directions. I decided on the word ‘One’. ‘One’ would now mean for me Let the neck be free so that the head can go forward and up so that the back can lengthen and widen, all together, one after the other. The word ‘One’ would now be the verbal trigger for my entire Primary Pattern. After all, the word ‘One’ is in essence just a sound, a sound English speaking people decide means the number between 0 and 2. It is just a sound. The meaning is not inherent to the sound. English speaking people collectively agree on what that sound means. A person for whom English is a second language at some point had to learn what that sound meant. At first, in their mind, they may have said to themselves what it meant in their own language, but over time they no longer had to do that. At some point the word One, the sound One immediately meant to them the number between 0 and 2.

So, I thought, why could I not change the meaning of the sound ‘One’ and have it mean what I wanted it to mean? If for me the sound ‘One’ was coupled with Let the neck be free so that the head can go forward and up so that the back can lengthen and widen, all together, one after the other, and if that phrase was kinesthetically coupled with this effortlessly revitalizing reflex-like response, then all three of them were now coupled, like links of a fence.

I played with using the word ‘One’ as my condensed Alexander direction. I liked how fast it was. I liked that it was less wordy. Yes it lacked a bit of the specificity that Alexander’s words had for me. But with practice I got pretty good at it.

Then the thought occurred to me that I didn’t have to use a word at all. That I could just use a sound, given that, in essence, a word is just a sound. I came up with the sound, Paaaah. This worked much better than the word ‘One’. It had something to do with the fact that it had no meaning to begin with and so I had not to de-couple any meaning from the sound. The sound was soft and expansive and seemed never ending. I also had associations with the sound, one being Alexander’s whispered Ah, and the other being the sound Kyudoists, (Zen Archers) use to refer to the moment when the arrow is released from the bow. Paaaah. I didn’t lose much specificity when using the sound Paaaah. It was indeed a better container for Alexander’s directions, at least for me.

I will, however, never throw out Alexander’s directions. They are for me like some song from another era that I still love singing. Those words still move me.

More years went by. I was in Tokyo standing at one of these interminably long red lights. I was end-gaining. I wanted to go but the red light was telling me to stay put. “That’s its collective meaning virtually all over the world, even though it’s a color, not a word, and not a sound. It’s also an object. Gee, I thought, we can pretty much make anything mean anything. It is totally up to us!”

I decided it would probably be a good idea to continue letting the red stop signal mean stop. But I decided that instead of it meaning stop on a superficial level, I decided that it meant stop on a deep level, that it meant to stop everything within myself, to completely stop any unnecessary holding within myself, to completely stop waiting, to enter into a condition of profound Alexandrian inhibition.

There I was at this infinitely long red light in a state of radical non-end-gaining, wide awake, vividly aware of everything around me. When the light turned green and everyone began walking across the street, I didn’t want to go. I was so happy exactly where I was, but then I thought, “better to follow the simple directions”, and so I crossed the street as I had never crossed a street before, as if I were singing in the rain, without the rain.

And then the revelation came. What if instead of using an internal trigger, i.e., Alexander’s words, words that were being produced from inside my mind, what if I projected my mind onto the world around me? What if I had the world speak to me from the outside in, instead of me speaking to me from the inside out? Instead of my mind being inside my body, what if my body was inside of a big, benevolent mind? It was entirely up to me to decide what any word, sound, object or creature meant to me, so what would happen if suddenly everything, absolutely everything  was saying to me, directly, wordlessly, Let the neck be free so that the head can go forward and up so that the back can lengthen and widen, all together, one after the other?

Ah, so that was what Gary Snyder meant when he wrote, “The world is our consciousness, and it surrounds us.” I got it!

Could it be this simple? Could anyone do it? Not really. First it would be necessary to have learned how to couple Alexander’s Primary Movement to some trigger, and perhaps Alexander’s words were the perfect first trigger because they are so specific and clear.

Again, I returned to my new insight.

What if I decided that everything, utterly everything in the world said to me, “Bruce, free yourself in relation to me. Free yourself in relation to me. Let your neck be free so that your head can go forward and up so that your back can lengthen and widen, all together, one after the other.” 

The Voice of the World. The silent, wordless voice of the world saying to me, “Bruce, free yourself in relation to me. Free yourself in relation to me.” 

Suddenly no words were needed at all. It was as if every object, my coffee cup, my keyboard, my computer screen, the flowers by the chair, the sound of the heater were all saying to me, directly, immediately, wordlessly, just through their sheer existence, “Bruce, free yourself in relation to me. Free yourself in relation to me. Everything was somehow kinesthetically coupled to my Primary Movement.

What if every person, especially people I struggled with meant “Bruce, free yourself in relation to me. Free yourself in relation to me.

No longer was there me trying to speak to me from somewhere inside of my body. The entire world and everything and everyone in it was now freeing me, directing me, opening me, awakening me. The Voice of the World was speaking to me and I was listening. Not only was I listening, I was following its direction, taking its good and loving advice.

Why not free myself in relation to everything and everyone?

That must of been it, the meaning of the Flower Sermon given by the Buddha. Sakyamuni gives a wordless sermon to his sangha. He holds up a white flower. No one understands it’s meaning except Mahakasyapa, who smiles.

That simple flower, and the meaning we bestow upon it speaks to us, in silence, inviting us back to who we are.

 

Bruce Fertman

Teaching By Hand/Learning By Heart

 

 

 

 

Available Now – Bruce’s Book!

Another book on the Alexander Technique? Not really. Yes, secondarily it is a book about Alexander’s work as interpreted and expressed through me. In Part One I do lead people into Alexander’s work via different doors. We enter Alexander’s world through sport, ecology, anatomy, sensory life, social biology, theology, psychology, metaphysics, mysticism, and art.

But primarily Teaching By Hand/Learning By Heart is a book about people, about liking people, listening to people, seeing people, nurturing people, talking to people and touching people. It’s about teaching without teaching. It’s about how create conducive conditions for learning from the inside out.

Elie Wiesel writes, ‘We must not see any person as an abstraction. Instead, we must see in every person a universe with its own secrets, with its own treasures, with its own sources of anguish, and with some measure of triumph.’

Here I share with you universes and within them secrets, treasures, anguish, and triumphs.

In this book you will find a few of the most popular posts on this blog which, due to publishing rights and regulations, are no longer available on this blog.

For some of you this book will serve as an introduction to Alexander’s work. May it lead you to teachers who will accompany you along your way.

For those of you who have found your teachers, this book may motivate you to take the work ever more to heart, to delve into the depth and breadth of the work.

And for those of you who are Alexander trainees and fellow teachers, may this book embolden you to take the work beyond the body into the realm of being, and beyond movement into the world of meaning.

 

May this book remind you of all that is worth loving inside the work of F. M. Alexander.

I hope you will read this book and then, please, write to me and tell me what it was like to read it, what if anything you learned or understood, how in any way, if in any way it shed light on your understanding of Alexander’s work, on being an Alexander teacher, or most importantly on what it means to be a human being living a life.

A very limited number of hardback editions are available.

For the next two weeks you can buy Teaching By Hand/Learning By Heart at a discounted price at:

www.mouritz.co.uk

or you can get it from

amazon.co.uk

Thanks,

Bruce Fertman