Deliberate Practice vs. Application

The Alexander Technique is meant to be applied. Dependent on your stage of learning (and life circumstances) you can speed up your development with Alexander Technique 'deliberate practice'.  You can think of this like the difference between practicing your instrument (deliberate practice) for the show, and actually performing the show (application).

Now you could just practice in your basement and never play a show, but then you'd never develop your ability to handle and enjoy interaction with other people and environments. On the other hand, you could play a whole bunch of shows and never practice but you simply might not give yourself enough clarity to improve on the mistakes you keep making. Thus, you ingrain bad habits and slow your progress.

What your balance should be between deliberate practice and application is something you have to determine for yourself on an ongoing basis. Typically, more deliberate practice is helpful when you get started or need to re-fresh, then application can take over. The key is to not completely either one for too long.

My balance this morning is at about 5% deliberate practice and 95% application.  These days when I'm really 'On and UP' it's probably more around 10-15% deliberate practice and 85-90% in application; I shift my balance this way so that when I teach i'm definitely 'On and UP' when I work with my students.

When I've gone through big learning jumps (especially in the beginning) I was likely closer to 40-50% deliberate practice and 40-50% application; and usually I took deliberate practice too far. This was part of my learning process. But this isn’t about me, it’s about you and your process.

So what's your balance between deliberate practice and application?

The Art of Everyday Movement

Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso

It's impossible to learn the Alexander Technique without increasing awareness of how you, and others, move in everyday life.  You start to realize that there's so much expression in everyday movement that it may as well be it's own art form.

Making Art with Everyday Movement and Posture

Here's an experiment: Think about your everyday movement as if you're making art.  Regardless of the extent to which you're aware of your own movement, one could say your making art as you move and posture yourself throughout your day.  For instance, it's often the case that your friends know the art of your movements better than you do; they can pick you out of a crowd from 100 meters away just by the way you walk.

Here's another question along those same lines: If you were a character in a novel how would you describe your movement?  Smooth...stiff...light...heavy?  Dancers use entire systems to embody words to make art¹, thought it's rare for any of us (perhaps dancers included) to place this level of attention on our everyday actions, movements, and body-language.

Marsha Barsky³, a professional dancer and student of the Alexander Technique stated, " I move all the time, in all activities, and to cordon dance off from my other movements during the day was creating an artificial boundary between me as a dancer and me as a person outside of the studio...(Once I made that discovery) I ceased to think of myself as a 'dancer' or a 'mover' in the studio, and someone else outside of it"²

Picture from

Picture from

Sure you might not aspire to be a dancer (or maybe you do?), but building deep awareness of your everyday movement can provide a foundation for making real and lasting change in your movement and postures. It's a simple, challenging, yet essential step towards accessing a fuller expression of your movement and self in everything you do.

In the art of posture and movement in everyday life what kind of art are you making?

Resources/ People/ Ideas related to the Alexander Technique in this post

1. Laban Movement Analysis

2. Barsky, M. D. (2010). The Alexander Technique and Contemporary Dance: An Interview between Marsha and Robert Barsky. AmeriQuests7(2).

3. Marsha Barsky

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