How does the Taubman Approach compare to the Alexander Technique?
March 6, 2012
There are quite a few commonalities between Alexander’s work and the Taubman Approach. Alexander and Taubman were innovators in insisting that one’s use is the source of one’s physical problems, and in advocating improved physical function as the only means of complete recovery. In both disciplines, overcoming injury is a side effect of improved use, requiring the full commitment of the student, and study with a skilled teacher. Many parallels can also be drawn with the fundamental principles of alignment, balance, and efficient, coordinate use of one’s body.
Neither Taubman nor Alexander had formal medical training, yet both were decades ahead of their time in challenging long-established attitudes held by performers, teachers, and the medical profession (see Gelb, 1994, p. 21; de Alcantara, 1997, p. 275). As Alexander found, medical practitioners do not always “recognize the relationship between misdirection of use and that unsatisfactory standard of functioning which is always found in association with disease” (1931/2001, p. 88). Additionally, he recognised that a typical medical approach is diagnosing the problem, but not necessarily building healthy skills (1931/ 2001, p. 90). In this way, both Taubman and Alexander were unique in realising that it is insufficient to say what not to do; incoordinate patterns of movement need to be replaced with effective, healthy ones.
One key difference is that the Taubman Approach is absolutely specific to the requirements of playing the instrument and the requirements of the music. So for example, the Taubman Approach deals with how the fingers are able to move with ease, speed and power, how a singing tone is produced, how the hand can open to play chords. While the Alexander Technique may bring a musician to a certain point wherein their body will intuitively seek these precise details, it is not specific to the demands of playing the instrument.
The same is true for Feldenkrais, and other whole-body approaches.
Alexander, F. M. (1931/ 2001). The use of the self: Its conscious direction in relation to diagnosis functioning and the control of reaction (Rev. ed.). London: Orion.
de Alcantara, P. (1997). Indirect procedures: A musician’s guide to the Alexander technique. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Gelb, M. (1994). Body learning: An introduction to the Alexander technique (New ed.). London: Aurum Press.