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alan-treeIn the Alexander Technique we beg to differ. Actually, we don’t beg. We don’t even ask. We just differ. We disagree to the discredit of our profession, especially as compared to professions where views are more monolithic. And just what professions are those? I attended the first international congress of voice professionals some years back at Julliard School of Music. The first presenter showed a slide of what he called “a normal larynx” and began his presentation. There were murmurs. The murmurs grew louder. This is not a normal larynx some shouted and the presentation dissolved into rancorous disagreement. Yes, but we’re talking voice professionals here. Voice professionals tend to be, shall we say, vocal, especially willing to voice an opinion. For constancy we need to look elsewhere, to the medical profession. Yeah, right.

Did you know that the chances of a woman’s having a Caesarean section in the United States vary greatly according to locality, choice of doctor, and choice of hospital? Prejudice, opinion, is a significant factor in determining treatment and outcome. So many differences, a young doctor lamented to me, not about his profession, mind you, but about mine. I was having an off-the-books examination at a prestigious hospital, performed by a young, confident doctor, the husband of a pupil. He had the run of the place and the use of its technology. You, he announced at the end of the examination, have macular degeneration, a grim diagnosis. Only I did not. Subsequent exams revealed nothing of the kind, and the young doctor’s pronouncement has now been thoroughly rebutted by other professionals, including the most distinguished doctor in that field. There is no trace of that terrible disease that blinded my mother and countless others.

What does this say about the clashes of views within the community of those who teach Alexander Technique? First they are natural. We are a community of passionate advocates who necessarily view the technique through the lens of our own experience. There are as many Alexander Techniques, some have said, as there are teachers of the technique. The difference being, that disagreements between teachers of Alexander Technique seldom affect outcome, because outcomes are not pursued. Means prevail over outcomes. If you, as a student of the technique, interact with a teacher in a lesson, the hands of that teacher will embody the work, insomuch as she is and has been of a mind to honesty pursue it and to serve its principles as she understands them. The work is that powerful and over-arching.

Let’s agree not to be discouraged or distracted by disagreements, even those disagreements prolonged by those invested in them. Let’s consecrate those differences to the crucible of our awareness. They are what they are. We can be grateful that we are in a vital profession, one that still offers help and hope to countless people every day, as it has for centuries. Let us agree, then, to disagree. Vive la difference.