Marketing The Benefits Of Alexander Technique Without The Off-Putting Alexander Language

The two most successful new teachers of Alexander Technique in California are Amira Alvarez in Berkeley and Sharon Jakubecy in downtown Los Angeles.

They both have slick websites that stress the benefits of the Technique but don’t use the unattractive language of traditional Alexander teaching (such as “inhibition” and “stop and say no” etc) that stops so many people from getting Alexander lessons.

SharonJakubecy.com’s front page does not even mention the word “Alexander.”

I find myself frequently discussing these two women with my fellow teachers (particularly my fellow teachers just launching practices) and we envy their marketing skills and business savvy. Alexander teachers often come from a performing arts background and they couldn’t market to save their lives. Most instructors don’t have enough students to earn a living but Sharon and Amira appear to operate thriving businesses with an easy to follow formula of selling freedom and happiness.

I’ve been thinking a great deal about how much I want to borrow from them.

In particular, Sharon Jakubecy never ceases to amaze me. I talk about her marketing more often than that of any other Alexander teacher. Could I ever have the stones to follow in her footsteps?

I have this tic of saying to myself in uncomfortable situations like these, “Well, that’s just not me. I’m not a marketer.” But that’s the easy way out. If I keep doing what I’m doing, I’m just going to be broke and miserable. I need to learn to market my new skills and there may be no better role model than Sharon Jakubecy. (Interview here.)

Sharon even teaches via Skype. I’ve not heard of any other Alexander teacher doing that. I know that many psycho-therapists do it so why not Alexander teachers? Sure, the traditionalists may protest that F.M. would never have taught via Skype, but what if it works? Obviously many students find benefit from it or they wouldn’t do it.

I do have questions about this approach. What if you sell a package of ten lessons for $997 to make someone “Slim, Sexy, Successful, & Stress-Free for the Holidays” and it doesn’t take? Some people are just going to advance slowly with their Alexander lessons and may not see dramatic change until they’ve had more than 30 lessons. Indeed, there are probably people out there who are just not capable of the cognitive work necessary to implement the Technique. So no amount of lessons will help them.

So that could be the downside of marketing yourself as an Alexander teacher by stressing the benefits of the Technique. What if your student does not achieve the promised results in ten or twenty lessons?

As Alexander teachers, we can only teach a Technique to willing and able pupils, we can’t guarantee results. We can’t heal. That’s our mantra in the training schools anyway. We’re here to help people to become aware of their habits of needless compression and to show them how to let go of those habits that don’t serve them. Letting go of unnecessary muscular holding, for instance, will usually enable people to live more sexily, successfully, and stress-free (though 90% of Alexander teachers would never use that language).

Karyn Chapman has an elaborate website (BackSchool.com.au) out of Brisbane, Australia, that says: “Welcome to your new, pain-free way of life with the Alexander Technique!”

What if you take 30 lessons and you still have a lot of pain? If your pain comes from needless tension, a good Alexander teacher can alert you to your habits and help you to let go of this needless holding, but if your pain comes from other sources than your own use, Alexander Technique may not be of much help.

The one good thing about Alexander teachers is that they never make the pain worse. If they did, they’d have to pay higher bills for liability insurance than $150 a year!

Julia Caulder was my first Alexander teacher. She started out of the block faster than anybody I know. Soon after graduation, she had her practice flourishing. Look at her beautiful new website.

She has this great quote from the famed actor/director Kenneth Branagh: “The Alexander Technique is remarkable. Julia Caulder is an excellent teacher. I highly recommend both.”

Julia’s website, like her teaching, is gorgeous. Yet it is still classical Alexander pedagogy: “The Alexander Technique is not about “doing,” it is about “undoing” those habits that unconsciously add work, stress, and pain to daily life.”

Here are classical Alexander websites by three new teachers in Los Angeles — Adolfo Santamaria, Leah Zhang, and Jennifer Schneiderman. They present the Technique in the traditional manner.

Adolfo writes: “Have you ever considered that how you do things, like the manner in which you stand, sit, or walk could be limiting your potential? Or even, be the source of your pain?”

Many people find such a concept threatening. They don’t want to face the possibility that they might be doing things that cause their pain. Marketing that stressed bliss might appeal to them more.

Yet other people rejoice in the opportunity to unlearn bad habits.

I took up the Technique in 2008 because I knew I needed to change my life.

The following sentences hooked me. On page 28 of The Stylelife Challenge, Neil Strauss writes: “Because posture is key not just to your confidence and appearance but also to your health, I’ve prepared an extra-credit video tutorial for you online at www.stylelife.com/challenge. It provides the basics on Alexander Technique, a school of movement that improves not just the way you stand, walk, and sit but also the way you speak and feel about yourself.”

Here are the classical websites of some of L.A.’s greatest Alexander teachers:

* Frances Marsden
* Babette Marcus
* Michael Frederick
* Sydney Harris
* Jean-Louis Rodrigue
* Pamela Blanc
* Celio Da Siveira

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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