Yes, who do we think we REALLY are?
I’m thinking about the time when I had not long lived in Devon. I was going through a hard time, one way and another, and decided that a change was needed. So, amongst other things, I took up singing again. My teacher at the time thought I should enter a singing competition, a whole new experience for me. I was well out of my comfort zone, exposing myself to criticism of others, as I saw it . So I suggested that I enter under a pseudonym. “Why on earth would you want to do that?” She said “Do you think you’re so important that you need to conceal your name?” No, of course not, and I didn’t. Silly me.
What brought this back to mind was a conversation I had recently with colleagues about marketing ourselves in this work. We agreed that we all need to “sell our product”, without really accepting that our “product” is in fact ourselves and not just what Alexander discovered.
We all bring something unique to what we teach – one of the joys of this work for me is that every Alexander teacher I know is a bit unconventional, a bit “out if the box” – perhaps that’s why students come to us – whether in our chosen niche or not.
So why I am slightly reluctant to “sell” myself I wonder? Perhaps it’s to do with the uncertainty of whether I’m good enough, whether I can deliver the goods – in my eyes of course. Upon reflection, I think it’s more to do with being in the comfort zone of teaching the “work” as my first priority – which is what we’ve all been taught to do – rather than treating the “work” as a “tool” for my teaching. Aha!
Why did I think, after I qualified, that I would have students beating a path to my door? Some AT teachers told me they never advertised and that their reputation had spread by word of mouth. Maybe. And there were others, who said they had advertised a lot and had little result. That’s more like it I think. I know that lots of teachers of this work are finding it ever harder to find students, and some with many, many years of experience. Well, of course there has been no beaten path to my door; and knowing what I do now, I am not surprised.
I don’t think the answer is an unabated promotion of the cult of “me” – for a start I’m not a cult. But I do need to work on promoting myself to choral singers and performers generally, amongst whom I feel comfortable and where I have lots of friends and colleagues.
So, must I reinvent myself? No I don’t think I do. Recent endorsements from pupils and my enthusiasm for the work make me think that my self-perceived lack of success has much more to do with a complete lack of useful promotion on my part. I should be happy with the person I am and what I teach – it’s just a question of recognising it. It’s all there actually, not a new “me”, but another dimension of the real me, another layer of me.
Sounds good, I think – but what’s under all the hot air and how do I get there? That’s just what I’m learning: it’s a bit of an uncomfortable journey I must say, but a necessary one. As the saying goes: “if you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got”.
And that goes as much for you, the reader, as it does for me. The general perception in these parts seems to be that when people hurt, they go to an Osteopath or some other excellent practitioner, and get “fixed”. Then, when the problem occurs again, as it often does, back they go to get “fixed” again. The difficult challenge is that of learning to do things differently – so that bodies and minds (ie our whole selves) are allowed to operate as designed with less stress and pain. This approach does not occur to those to whom an instant solution is often more attractive. If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.
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