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Alexander Technique - the Ground Rules  
Marjory Barlow in Conversation with Sean Carey published by HITE Ltd 2011 

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Readers' Comments on 'The Ground Rules' 

 
We have received a lot of positive comments about the book from around the world. If you would like to share your comments, thoughts or observations about 'The Ground Rules' please use the response form below. Or indeed, if you had lessons with Marjory and would like to share those experiences. 
 
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" I'm just reading the 'Ground Rules'. It is really great. Thank you to Seàn and to both of you for putting it together. I love it. Very inspirational! " 
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Book Launch party pictures & speech appear below the comments... 
"This book, Alexander Technique: the Ground Rules, reveals unique information and insights about FM Alexander, the first Alexander training course established in 1931, and what Marjory Barlow considered to be the ground rules of the Alexander Technique, including monkey, squatting, hands over the back of a chair, going up on the toes, going back from the ankles, the lunge, the whispered ah, and lying down. An essential addition to any Alexander teacher's library..." 
Sean Carey must be congratulated on putting together a tightly focused project based upon three very significant aspects of Marjory Barlow's experiences. Firstly, covering the very personal reasons of why she originally took lessons , then her experiences of life on that earliest of training courses, and finally, the very pivotal 'stuff' for us coal-face Alexander folk, the Ground Rules for all the basic techniques. 
-- Barry Collins, Alexander Teacher and former dentist 
. . . Marjory Barlow’s memories of FM Alexander and his teaching during the 1930s are an invaluable resource now that nearly all his original teachers are no longer here to guide us. 
-- Anne Battye (was trained by MB in 1964, has been teaching all around the world, and is a STAT moderator) 
"As a regular commuter and someone who has been learning the Alexander Technique for 7 years, I'm frequently disappointed to find myself pulling down as I lose myself in whatever book I happen to be reading on my train journey into Waterloo. Imagine my surprise, therefore, when on one particular journey instead of my usual experience I found myself light, lengthened and 'going up' when it was time to leave my seat. The reason? I had been reading 'Alexander Technique: the Ground Rules'. 
"I have so enjoyed reading the new Marjory Barlow book, and I've just decided that it is a MUST READ for my 3 trainees, even though they are all in their first term. We'll read it from back to front, but the Ground Rules section is a wonderful place to start. ......It complements the earlier "An Examined Life" and in no way duplicates that fascinating read." 
"To have an accurate record of how FM Alexander taught his pupils, presented here by his niece, is not only an invaluable resource for us now, but also a most enjoyable read. Marjory also speaks clearly and simply on how to deal with the range and types of challenges that Alexander teachers typically encounter in their own teaching practices.... Marjory's wise words will help us as teachers, comprehend the importance of applying the work in one's daily life interactions which in turn, will help us understand how to teach and present Alexander's teaching principle, and in process we may find the real Alexander Technique." 
"Just got the Marjory book and am over the moon to have so much learning reinforced and expanded. I am reading the book right now and after some other approaches I feel like I am coming home. Things like 'repeating the orders at the same time as hands on....' and 'knees forward and away from hips'. 
 
I started lessons at the Barlows with Sue Laurie over 30 years ago. Lessons which helped me overcome major problems after a life threatening ectopic pregnancy. How inspiring to be reminded of all my earlier learning". 
 
"The book is really a reviewer's 'dream' text, as it is possible to open it anywhere, and give a quotation that is both apposite and pithy, as a lot of Marjory Barlow's memories are Alexander's original words. Now you can't get much closer to the horse's mouth than that... 
 
Earlier on in this review, I suggested that this book should be essential reading for the Alexander community. But I now think that I should retract that statement. - It should be Compulsory Reading". 
"Having the essence [of Marjory's teaching] in such an attractive volume has done an important service to the Alexander community. Would I recommend 'The Ground Rules'? Absolutely." 
Congratulations on publishing this brilliant book. It says so much in such a short space. I am going to have to read parts two and three a few more times; there is a much here to take in. But what clearly comes across is that it's all in the thinking! 
"Many thanks for the beautifully presented book Alexander Technique: the Ground Rules by Marjory Barlow, Alexander's niece. To have an accurate record of how F.M. Alexander taught his pupils and his trainees is a very welcome and enjoyable read. This little gem is much needed today more than ever. The serious matters of, what the Alexander Technique is and what Alexander's teaching is all about are spoken about clearly and simply thanks to Sean’s enquiring questions. I believe this little book would be a valuable addition in the curriculum and on the reading list of every Alexander Teacher Training School. Marjory's wise words might help us come together and be more consistent in what we teach and present in the name of the 'AT' and so help to narrow the gap that is getting wider, while respecting what F.M. called 'the variations in a teacher's art'. And in process one may, perhaps find the real Alexander Technique." 
Although I’m not an Alexander Technique teacher, I nonetheless found that Sean Carey's book interview with Marjory Barlow a fascinating and insightful account of the early teaching methods employed by FM Alexander’s first-generation teachers. I've had lessons for many years and the discussion of the basic Alexander Technique ‘ground rules’ I found to be utterly relevant. 
-- Dr Dalton Exley, author and publisher. 
 
Simon Fitzgerald, student of the Alexander Technique 
Epsom, Surrey 
 
 
Jane Heirich AmSAT,  
Ann Arbor, USA 
 
 
 
Review by Diana Devitt-Dawson published in latest Statnews September 2011 Volume 7 Issue 6, Page 25 
 
 
 
 
Anita Bennett MSTAT,  
teaches in Bristol, UK 
 
 
 
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Quote from Barry Collins review of the book in the AUSTAT Newsletter June 2011 edition pages 13-14 
Alex Murray AmSAT 
Urbana, Illinois, USA 
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Ahmed Hassan  
Cape Town, South Africa 
 
Diana Devitt-Davison 
MSTAT AUSTAT 
Director of Training 
Sydney, Australia 
 
How Marjory Barlow’s words were turned into a book -- Sean Carey 
 
I began training at Alexander Teaching Associates (ATA) in 1983 and finished in 1986. The course had been set up by Don Burton and others in the late 1970s. 
 
There were at least two interesting characteristics to ATA. First its size; there were a lot of people on the course. In fact, it was the largest training course in the history of the Alexander Technique. Second, and if I might borrow some concepts from social anthropology, ATA was both socially and culturally ‘open’ – that is not only could Alexander teachers from other training courses and traditions pay a visit but they could also be employed. In this way they influenced the culture of training to a greater or lesser extent. So ATA was in some ways a bit of a ‘melting pot’, open to all the main Alexander traditions in the UK and the US. That said, most teachers were UK born and bred, and most came from the Carrington tradition. But there were representatives from the Macdonald and Barlow schools on the course. 
 
When I qualified in 1986 the head of training was Adam Nott. Adam would sometimes sidle over and whisper in my ear that I ought to have some lessons with Marjory Barlow, with whom he and his wife, Rosemary, had trained. 
 
It was only in 1996 that I paid a first visit to Marjory's flat in Elsworthy Road, Primrose Hill. By this time Marjory was no longer running a training course that she was still giving lessons and the occasional group class to teachers on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. 
 
I found the encounter very interesting and stimulating. And of course one of the nice things about going to Marjory was you got a table turn. So here was the opportunity for a bit of chat, and most of it was about FM Alexander, and his first training course. 
 
Now I had already completed three books of interviews -- one with John Nicholls, and two with Walter Carrington, and I wasn't really on the lookout for a fourth. But I can remember lying on the table listening to all these interesting stories about Marjory meeting people like Aldous Huxley and George Bernard Shaw at Ashley Place, and more technical aspects of the Technique and thinking that this really ought to be recorded otherwise it might be lost to future generations of teachers and students. 
 
Anyway, the information kept piling up until there was undoubtedly a ‘tipping point’. So then I had a choice; either to ask Marjory whether she would take part in some interviews for a possible book, not to ask Marjory whether she wanted to take part in some interviews for a possible book, or do something different like raise an arm. I think you know the answer. Yes, I asked Marjory whether she wanted to be interviewed for a book. 
 
By the time I suggested this, however, Marjory had already begun a project with Trevor Allan Davies, which resulted in the book An Examined Life. Nevertheless, I still thought there might be scope for an additional text, and of course I did not know what sort of ground and what sort of questions Trevor would ask. So I came up with the idea of a tightly focused project composed of three strands -- firstly how Marjory came to have lessons with FM. Secondly, Marjory’s recollections of the first training course. And thirdly an account of what in the interviews she called the ‘ ground rules’ -- monkey, hands over the back of a chair, going up on the toes, whispered ah, lying down and so on. 
Barlow Family with Sean Carey 
Barlow Family with Sean Carey
Brita Forsstrom, Jean Fischer, Tom Barlow
Adam Nott, Sean Carey, Anne Battye
The Scene!
The party!
Sean Carey
 
 
Marjory kindly agreed to my request and we began the project in 1998. We would sit in her living room and I would ask her questions and then transcribe the recordings before the next meeting. In this way, I was able to ask supplementary questions if there were any omissions and ambiguities from the previous session. 
 
These handwritten transcripts were placed in a cupboard in my house. Naturally enough I would read them from time to time and think that the unique material -- both the historical recollections and the technical aspects of the Technique -- really ought to be put into the public domain. Last August I met with my friend and colleague Kamal Thapen and discussed with him the importance of the manuscript. 
 
For those of you who don't know, Kamal has a first-class honours degree in aeronautical engineering from Imperial College but later went into the printing industry. Kamal made a very generous offer that if I prepared the manuscript he would do everything else that was necessary. And you can see from the book that we are launching tonight that he has been true to his word. In fact, I know how much work was involved in putting the book together, so I think we all owe him a huge debt of gratitude for getting Marjory’s thoughts on important aspects of the Alexander Technique into the public domain. Without Kamal’s energy and input those handwritten transcripts would still be in my cupboard. 
 
Of course, the book could not have come out without the input from a large number of people, and I thank them very much for their input. I now hand you back to Kamal, who will identify who they are and what they did. 
 
Thank you.............................................................. Sean Carey 
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Pictures of the party courtesy of Eddie Smith