Lyra is on the faculty of the Contemporary Alexander School and the Alexander Alliance International. We offer self-paced, non-residential, contemporary teacher training programs based in Santa Fe, NM and Portland, OR, with full time, part time, and academic-calendar training options. The emphasis is on being able to teach the fundamental principles of the Alexander Technique to individuals and groups within the activities of their lives. We are the only USA branch of the Alexander Alliance International, which has been offering immersion-based Alexander Technique teacher training through a contemporary pedagogy since 1982.
There is an underlying principle which guides the essence of the training, best expressed in a quote by philosopher Ram Dass:
At its core, the training is about you. Your state of being. It is a kinesthetic study of being. We notice, question, and transform our habitual ways of doing, thinking, and feeling. It is a profound study of making conscious choices about who and how you are. It is truly life-altering. Expect to question everything. Expect to awaken to your full presence and potential. Then, and only then, will you be able to assist your students in their own transformation, without judgment, manipulation, or ego.
This unique training program is specifically designed to be possible within the reality of people’s busy lives. Each individual may design their own program according to their needs, and within their own time frame. This program offers a very contemporary style of the Work, in the lineage of Marjorie Barstow, the first person F.M. Alexander trained to become a teacher of his Work. The Contemporary Alexander Shcool’s training program is unique and quite different from more traditional Alexander Technique programs, as has been graduating successful Alexander Technique Teachers for nearly 40 years.
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two Trainings in one
The CAS training program is really two trainings: one in the profound embodiment of F.M. Alexander’s Work and one in the teaching of F.M. Alexander’s Work. Thus, trainees focus on both their understanding and incorporation of the Principles in their daily lives, as well as the skills necessary to teach those Principles to others.
Our emphasis is on being able to teach Alexander Technique within the activities of life. We work with people while they are doing whatever they do – riding a horse, playing an instrument, working at a computer, rehearsing a play, walking their dog, cooking a meal, singing an aria – whatever. We focus on making the Alexander Technique accessible, understandable, and approachable.
We all know that no matter how much you practice choosing a new response in your lesson, the moment you are in the ‘real-life’ situation, it is almost impossible to not return to your habitual response.
We train teachers to have the skill to make the Alexander Technique “user-friendly”. To meet the student in the moment that they need the most help. To offer them the experience that they can make this change for themselves – even and especially when it counts the most.
To help learn how to work with students in the moments of their real lives, we go to wherever people do whatever they do and work with people while they do their activities. And if we can’t go to their situation, we learn to help them re-create it in the lesson or class.
Personal Application: “USE”
You can only teach what you know. Therefore, there is consistent, ongoing study on recognizing and changing your own personal habitual patterns (physical, mental, emotional, etc) – what we call your “use”. As with all Alexander Technique studies, this is a fundamental aspect of the training – how you are being while you do whatever you are doing.
Sophisticated hands-on skills
The teaching style is primarily hands-on and experiential. Trainees use their hands from the first day on. You will learn how to see, feel, and understand how and why people are moving and organizing themselves as they do. You will be able to offer them new alternatives for pain-free, easy movement. You will be able to communicate sensitively and accurately with your hands.
Trainees learn to use their hands not only to feel, but also to ‘see’, ‘hear’, and ‘sense’, what is happening within another person’s being. Trainees are introduced to a multitude of intuitive skills as they increase their ‘ways of knowing’. They learn to discern and transform the patterns and belief systems which create stress, tension, injury and limit life choices. They become proficient at working both on the table and in activities; and equally skilled at working with both individuals and groups.
Learn by Experience
We learn by doing – we try something, evaluate how it went, make different choices, try again, and so on, over the course of hundreds of mini-practice moments. In this training, you will have thousands of chances to practice your new craft. Trainees get to practice explaining the principles of the Work, to use their hands with multitudes of people, and to learn how to analyze people’s habits of use. There are many opportunities to watch and co-teach actual private lessons. Trainees have the opportunity to observe and participate in hundreds of actual lessons, learning firsthand how to discern what a person needs in an individual lesson.
Trainees also get to observe and co-teach many introductory workshops for all types of groups: choirs, runners, dentists, rehabilitation, performing artists, equestrians, senior citizens – any population that they choose. These intro workshops are integrated into most of the training events. As a result, Contemporary Alexander School graduates are proficient at introducing the Work in a simple, clear, and playful manner, which is one of the most important tools for building a successful career as a Contemporary Alexander Technique Teacher.
Immersion Residencies & Traveling events
The Contemporary Alexander School hosts 2 annual month-long residencies at leading music programs in the US. In the summer we are at the renowned Meadowmount School of Music, teaching some of the world’s top young musicians; in the winter we are at the Oberlin Conservatory, teaching singers, instrumentalists, actors and dancers. These longer immersions allow trainees to learn how to build content over many lessons and small group classes, an essential skill for creating a lively private practice.
The Contemporary Alexander School/Alexander Alliance International faculty also travel to the communities of the trainees and graduates, offering them an opportunity to introduce their town/city to the Work, and begin to generate future students. CAS has supported trainees and graduates in many places worldwide, including New Mexico, Colorado, Oregon, Ohio, Iowa, Alaska, Oklahoma, NY, Switzerland, France, UK, Germany, Latvia, Japan, and South Korea.
Training successful teachers
Utilizing a blend of personal exploration, detailed hands-on and pedagogy skills, clear body mapping/anatomy, frequent apprenticeship teaching opportunities, and a deeply embodied understanding of F.M. Alexander’s principles, graduates of The Contemporary Alexander School can create an extraordinary career helping people change their lives through choice.
This Work is at the most sophisticated end of all touch-based modalities. Your hands and eyes will become extremely educated. Your ability to teach will become profound. Your way of being in the world will change. It takes time to master the skills.
Everyone does it at their own pace, in their own way.
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