Posts for Tag : alexander technique and children

On Being Wiggly

On Being Wiggly
(Notes from teaching 12 – 14 year olds)

 

‘Is anything in you body straight?’
‘Er … No!?’
‘That’s right your body wiggles and spirals, curves and flows, it is living and isn’t straight.

Is anything in nature, the natural world, straight or is it wiggly?’

‘It’s wiggly’

‘How about this school?’
‘This school is straight!’

‘Yes, people seem to enjoy constructing flat, straight buildings don’t they!’

‘How about music, is it straight or wiggly?’
‘Wiggly!’

‘So you are wiggly children in a flat school doing a wiggly thing, music.’

 

‘Let’s go for a wiggly walk around the room, let’s let go of your straight morning in a straight classroom on a hard chair and all the straight thinking you have been doing and enjoy a good wiggly walk.

They loosen up quickly and easily!

 

‘Now what happens if you think about walking straight?’

Everyone slows down and stiffens straight away!

‘Can you wiggle your walk even more? Can you keep the feel of the wiggly walk when you walk in an everyday, forward and up way?’

 

I wiggly walk with them, talking about the body as we go. One boy want to get on the floor and demonstrates The Worm! A brilliant wave like motion though the body.

 

I ask them to play the piano in a wiggly way, not to worry about getting it right or what it sounds like. To give themselves wiggle room to make mistakes and have fun. To wiggle and enjoy.

Result – instant amazing fluidity and ease of playing.

 

We talk about the flow of thought to piano and piano back to person as sound, as a figure of 8, a loop, waves travelling; not a one way thing, not a linear activity from brain to hands to piano in an upright ‘sit up straight’ posture!

I ask them to receive the flow of sound back, feel the actual reverberation of the piano through their hands, their spines to their ears. ‘Aha’ moments emerge.

 

They wiggly think as they play allowing movement and it sounds great. They can all hear and feel the difference. They experiment with changing their thinking to straight thinking and them back to wiggly.

 

Now it is really easy to see when unhelpful habits emerge – thinking habits.

 

They start to see in each other the instant connection between how they think and how the body responds and how that in turn effects the sound of their playing and can observe the changes in each other with no problem by noticing changes in sound and their level of interest in what the other is playing.

 

They give each other great feedback –

‘Your thinking has gone straight, stop trying so hard,’ one girl says to a boy, ‘be yourself, stop performing and showing off, just be in the music. That’s better, you look much more you now and it sounds much more dynamic!’

 

 

‘What happened there?

‘I was worrying about getting it right!’

‘Is that straight thinking or wiggly thinking?’

‘Straight!’

What would be a better thought?

‘I could think that I am exploring the music, I could just have fun experimenting. I could play with the music and just enjoy it.’

 

(We did a class last week all about the word play versus practise – they play instruments after all!)

 

Aha! He makes a connection between his creative mind that doesn’t worry about not getting things right and can explore and his school mind that thinks he HAS to get things right.

 

‘Great, that’s wiggly thinking. Can you feel and hear the difference?’

 

We listen and we notice how the sound of the piano reverberates long after the music has stopped. The children notice in each other how many of them slump the moment they stop playing, as though defeated and awaiting criticism, and realise that the music hasn’t stopped and stay with the travelling sound waves, their listening taking them into an easy poise as the sound becomes quieter and quieter finally fading to nothing. They let themselves receive the sound waves.

 

Now they are owning their playing and their habits!

It is so unbelievably simple to teach and so effective.

 

A bell goes for the next class, they all react!

‘Did you notice your reaction to the sound of the bell?’ I ask.

(It is a hideous jangly synthetic noise.)
‘Yes it was straight thinking wasn’t it miss! We all stiffened and panicked a bit.’

‘Yes the bell ringing is straight isn’t it, a line to tell you the class is ended. I think my job is to keep you wiggly as you travel through your years here at school so you can keep your music flowing, don’t you.’

‘Ha Ha! Yes! Bye Miss, Thank you! Have a good Easter.’

 

Do you give yourself wiggle room to play in your life? And if you did, what would change?

 

Quotes from 12 year olds on this class – 

 

‘Alexander Technique helps me to see music in a different way, and find ways to make music really fun and not just see it as work. If you look at it as work you get really bored, but since last week I’ve really enjoyed playing music, because I saw it as play and not practise. I have really enjoyed sitting at the piano.’ Elian

 

‘Since Alexander Technique I’ve properly enjoyed work because I started to see it positively instead of in a bad way, by opening up and thinking forward and up. It is a lot more jolly to feel what you are playing, to be in the world of music, to feel the nice sound in your heart and in your surroundings’ Sid

 

‘If it is straight thinking then you just play and get the notes right, if it is wiggly you play it how you are feeling and get the dynamics better, you play it more emotionally.’ Scott

 

‘When I smile and think forward and up I felt happier and could put more emotion into the music.’ Amalie

 

(These classes are short, 25 minute, small group classes, the students have Alexander Technique every week as part of their ‘Curriculum of Excellence.’)

 

On Being Wiggly Part 2 here

 

*****

Art work from The Daily Ease, Alexander Technique colouring story book

link here to The Daily Ease book

available at  www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

For media downloads on Alexander Technique www.kirstenharris.co.uk

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What is the Alexander Technique? 12 – 14 Year Olds Answer

What is the Alexander Technique?’

 

12 year olds 

 

‘I wear glasses, it is a bit like that. I have to clean my glasses so I can see. If I do Alexander Technique it gets my body clearer.’ Marcello

 

‘It’s like opening up a new world, new ideas, a different way to do things and think about things.

Every time I see myself doing a habit, like putting my hands in my pockets, I stop and do the right thing and it feels better.’ – Sid

 

‘A way to be free and feel a bit more open and keep your body moving in the way it should’ Elian

 

‘It helps you learn how to make sure your body doesn’t get all stiff as you get older by, for example, how to rehydrate your intervertebral discs and by teaching us how to take care of our bones and things.’ Edward

 

‘It teaches how to be at ease with yourself’ Amalie

 

‘It helps you have a good stance and keep your body in shape.’ Scott

 

13 year olds 

 

‘Alexander Technique is like being wirelessly charged. You can just charge up anywhere by plugging into the space and forward and up’ Xander

 

‘Its a form of letting go, all the tension is released and not part of me, for example I notice when I get annoyed my neck gets tight.’ Amelia

 

‘It is something constant that keeps you sane. With it running in the background all the time you have a  kind of level, it keeps you level. And when you are completely focussed on it, like in semi supine, you can put everything else to the side (it is still there, you haven’t forgotten about it) but when you come back you maybe have a different view of it.’ Esme

 

‘When you walk around school you are like a fizzing snow globe and when you lie down it all floats to the bottom.’ Xander

 

‘It’s a chance to be yourself, you true self, not the one that is stuck or has bad habits, but the real you. It’s like finding your inner queen’. Alicia

 

‘It is finding a way to be calm and not full of stress and stuff. You can be who you want to be and not who other people want you to be.’ Josie

 

14 year olds

 

‘Alexander Technique is being mindful about your body and knowing the mindfulness of your body. Mindful can be letting bad thoughts out of your body, not being tense and having balance and poise. It’s how to cater for your body and how it wants to be. It teaches you how to release physical pain and mental stress which can be interlinked. Even if I try to think about Alexander Technique in my every day life there is still a build up of tension by the time I get to Tuesday. It’s getting less though.’ Lucy

 

‘It is a way of thinking about the mind and our place in the world. It helps you know your body and understand your thinkings influence’. Mika

 

‘Alexander Technique helps you have a good perspective on life and how to deal with situations, developing a thoughtful mindset and attitude and how to channel emotions – knowing when to let go and when to be more confident with yourself. It helps you understand other people and then get a different outlook and be able to put yourself in their shoes. When you lie down and let go you free all the negative things and have better vibes.’ Anna

 

It makes you feel more positive. Sometimes things can feel overwhelming. When you take a few minutes out of the day and become more aware it helps everything become more bite sized. It makes you better at being better because when your doing anything you can think a bit of Alexander Technique and it just does its thing and you’re like ‘Cool!’ ‘ Maisie

 

Alexander Technique doesn’t take a lot to get the gist of. It’s more about the attitude you have and letting yourself understand there is a bigger variety of things you can do it with. You can tell anyone what Alexander Technique is, but it takes a lot of open mindedness to really understand it. It’s really helpful and useful and has lots of uses to it but it is really how you use it and process it in your mind that is important. It doesn’t take much time to have that moment to just listen up a little bit and let go.’ Marie

 

Is it useful to learn the Alexander Technique at school?

 

12 year olds

 

‘Yes, because pretty much what you do all day at school is sit down and slump. So Alexander Technique helps that habit disappear. I enjoy Alexander Technique and feel a lot happier so I don’t need to slump, but sometimes when I am in a bad mood I can’t resist slumping down. We all have bad days sometimes’. Elian

 

‘All the other lessons have rules and in AT there are still rules but it’s different because this is more focussing on me rather than learning about things and facts. This is learning about how we are made up and bones and stuff and how it works.’ Marcello

 

It helps you in your future life a lot as you know a lot of information about your bones and muscles and know how to control your body and look after yourself.  Elian

 

Yes, it is really fun. If you’re in say a bad mood you come to Alexander Technique and you feel different and a lot calmer and ready for the rest of the day. It’s definitely making me feel more confident. I do get nervous, especially before performing, but then I think to myself what is the worse thing that can happen it will be over soon and then I use the Alexander Technique and it helps me be calm. It is a different kind of confidence thinking forward and up and it feels like things will go well if I keep thinking forward and up.’ Sid

 

13 year olds 

 

‘Yes! It is fun and interesting. It is a high point in the day. Its an essential!’ Xander

 

You stop and think and stop worrying and find space to think. It is almost like taking time out gives you more time. Esme

 

It’s that one part of the day when you can just stop and let go. It also helps having a nice teacher! Write that down miss!’ Amelia

 

It is useful to learn Alexander Technique at school and get in the habit of letting go because some people are just so stressed it becomes their life.

I recognise in myself now that I have been too hyper and that is not a nice character. I’ve learned to pause and have more self control. I put myself in the mindset before a class to be calm.’ Xander

 

Specifically at high school there is a lot of pressure on students to always be focussed and study and do homework but Alexander Technique is time to yourself to focus and breath and sort out everything in your mind. It’s a skill to focus on one thing at once by clearing everything out of your mind.’ Esme

 

Yes, it is fun! It is probably useful to everyone and it relates to every thing.’ Josie

 

‘It relates to a lot of students lives because a lot of students are not free and confident in themselves. It helps not only yourself but it helps you understand other people and where they are coming from. It makes you more aware of your surroundings and yourself. You only have one body for the rest of your life so it is useful to learn how to look after it properly.’ Alicia

 

14 year olds 

 

‘It helps me understand myself, my strengths and weaknesses. School is quite a stressful place so it is useful to have a skill like this to help you.’ Anna

 

If I am nervous in a situation thinking forward and up helps me calm down. School is stressful for a lot of people so Alexander Technique helps stop that extra stress that comes when you hunch over. If you don’t learn it at high school when do you learn it? Primary school seems to young and by the time you leave school its almost too late, because if you have a habit now you’ve got that habit.’ Mika

 

‘Because school is most of our day and our interactions are mainly with people of our own age Alexander Technique is useful because it gives you a shared language that helps you feel more comfortable around people and if everyone is like that it creates a good feeling.  It is good having a strong yes or no. This helps you connect with people and have a better relationship. Teens minds are more malleable so influencing them with positive thinking is a really positive thing to do because it’s more likely to influence them and their relationships for the rest of their lives.’ Dom

 

‘It helps me feel comfortable in my own body and know why I should feel comfortable’ Lucy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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