Monday, October 01, 2012

Skyping AT Lessons Already!?

It’s a new phenomenon – lessons in Alexander Technique by Skype. In New York, you can book a pack of three (which I assume gives you a slight discount?) from an AmSat teacher with 10 years of experience, according to a FaceBook page I just joined. For some, this is the beginning of the end. For others, it is the end of the beginning.

What is your opinion?

It’s easy to characterize the issue as profit verses principle: Skype is clever way to make money, but it sells out the principles. I think this is a spurious framework: a method of teaching can never violate a principle, because principles are not beholden to anything. I could go deep with that argument, but instead, I will offer a case history of Skype lessons in action…

Full disclosure: BodyChance uses Skype for Alexander Technique lessons!

But not quite in the way you are imagining. Here’s how it got started: BodyChance’s AT Teacher education is predicated on the utility of multiple teaching approaches. So most years, my students get to work with 5 of the 23+ acknowledged Master teachers from the first and second Lugano International Conferences. At the moment that’s myself, Cathy Madden, Lucia Walker, Tommy Thompson and Vivien Mackie.

Students are both enthralled and confused by this plethora of teachers. That’s the point – to give them experiences of widely divergent models to loosen up their idea of “Alexander Technique” so they realize it is their job to define it for their own practise.

Overseas teachers visit annually at most three weeks, often just two. Of course every student has their favourite teacher, and the “after departure remorse” creates an appetite for more contact. Enter Skype lessons. It started as a way for students to ask questions, but it quickly evolved into “Watch me teach a lesson and comment.” So that’s how it happened – the overseas teachers observe the student teaching, then ask questions, challenge, prod and generally stimulate the student to pause and ponder the methodology of their teaching.

So that is Skype at BodyChance today. It works, it supports students, it does require that you already know AT but as a teaching method – it can be quite effective. It’s like teaching on the other side of a glass wall – not ideal, but doable.

Can it work for complete beginners – what do you think?

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