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Only Connect
Reflections on Teaching the Alexander Technique

Elizabeth Langford
Leuven (Belgium): Alexandertechniek Centrum vzw, 2004 - xii, 193 p.
ISBN 90-808491-1-1

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This book is a valuable and thought-provoking contribution to the process of "continuing education" that is so strongly advocated these days by professional societies and associations. It can help teachers and students to think afresh and reassess the significance and value of what they have experienced and learnt. It can help them to make connections.
Walter Carrington


Alexander teachers having shown a gratifying amount of interest in Mind and Muscle, I have been encouraged to publish some of my reflections which fall outside the scope of that book. Some points, too essential to be avoided, make a reappearance for which I trust no apology is needed.

Some of the material here is new, some has been published elsewhere. ‘Only Connect’, the title of one of the articles reprinted here, seemed the right title for the book, too. I first read Howards End long ago, during a period when I was groping for the direction my life should take. The phrase grabbed me then, becoming even more charged with meaning as time went on. It seems almost to have given me a glimpse of my future in this profession I had not then heard of.

I see now that Mind and Muscle itself was an attempt to make connections. Mind, says the dictionary, is the direction of a persons thoughts, desires, inclinations or energies, and an ancient meaning, memory, survives in the expression ‘bear in mind’. Muscle in the title stood for some of the down-to-earth practicalities involved in going in the direction of our thoughts, desires, inclinations, energies.

The ‘Verbal Communication’ article reflects my preoccupation with a search for clarity in varying circumstances, as will be seen in the material born of requests from different groups. It is always interesting to try to explain a little about the Alexander Technique to people in a way that shows its relevance for them. Part I consists of some of my attempts to express my thoughts about it to different groups at different times.

Part II is more concerned with communication between Alexander teachers. ‘Correspondence on teaching questions’ shows an unexpected degree of agreement reached by going calmly and deeply into what one wants to express. The approach seems worth pursuing. From this perspective, if one article in this book is important, it must be ‘Head and Hands’, which includes an attempt to examine some of Alexander’s most emphatically worded instructions. I sincerely hope that any colleague who disagrees with my reading of them will take the trouble to let me know in detail where they think I am mistaken.

Contents of Only Connect
Foreword by Walter Carrington
Author’s Preface

PART I Thoughts on themes
Verbal Communication
Personal responsibility
Speech as a function of the whole person
A talk for physiotherapy students
A Presentation at the Flemish Institute for Health Promotion
Parents, children and ‘posture’
Reflections on Only Connect: Theme and Variations
The basis of stress

PART II Exchanging ideas
A correspondence on teaching questions
Chairs
‘Habitual Reflex Activity’
Translating directions
And talking of breathing
Preparing for public speaking
Head and hands
On teaching the Alexander Technique to musicians
Educating the Public
Two open letters to Training Course students
I – Looking ahead
II – Publicity

Afterword

Alexandertechniek Centrum vzw