Generally speaking, people are drawn to the Teacher Training program because they have been profoundly touched by the work themselves. Interestingly enough, while we have many successful graduates who had taken lessons for a period of years before joining the training program, we also have successful graduates who have only had a few lessons in the Technique before joining. It really seems to be a calling.
Our trainees come from a variety of different professional backgrounds. We have many musicians, as well as professionals in dance, theater, psychology, medicine, yoga, Pilates, massage, and related therapeutic disciplines in mind/body education. Many of our graduates use the Technique to expand, augment, and enrich their work in their professions – for example, music teachers find the Technique invaluable in teaching their music students. For other trainees, the Alexander Technique is a career switch. We welcome trainees of all ages, and our group includes everyone from recent college graduates to retirees.
Occasionally, a person will ask to train in order to foster their own personal growth, rather than in preparation to teach the Technique. In certain circumstances, Tommy will accept someone into the program for a year’s study for this purpose.
Beginning February 2015, Tommy will institute a Career/Life Enhancement Training designed to offer a more in-depth study of the Alexander work for those who wish to bring the Alexander principles and concepts more directly into their own careers and/or personal endeavors but who are not yet interested in training to teach. The course will be taught on weekends and one day during the regulat training course hours and can be taken over one year or more. The graduate of this course will be awarded a Certificate of Completion of Advanced Study in the Alexander Technique.
Whatever the background, age, and perspective of each person in the given program, whether the person is a trainee, guest, or faculty member, as we all explore the work we find the freedom to choose a better course of action than the one we habitually take. In taking advantage of that freedom, we truly encounter the depth of our own commitment, not just to the work, but to ourselves and to those around us.
Why This Program?
Tommy brings a unique perspective to the work. His teaching is deeply imbued with compassion and humanism and always focuses on meeting each student where they are. Hands-on skills and techniques, directions, and the technical aspects of the Alexander work are taught rigorously and thoroughly, but always keeping at the forefront the idea that, as Tommy expresses it, “A lesson should be a celebration of each person being alive, and what being alive might actually mean to any given person”
Most of our trainees are combining the training program with work while juggling other professional, personal, and family responsibilities. Some are commuting from long distances. Tommy goes to great lengths to make adjustments that will work for individual trainees. It is not uncommon for trainees to participate for only one or two days a week (rather than all three days), especially during their first year of training, in order to be able to accommodate work schedules or other responsibilities. Some trainees have taken leave of absences, due to medical or other issues. In these cases, trainees extend their studies beyond the three year training period. For example, if a trainee comes in only two days a week for the first year, that trainee would need to complete an additional term (each term is ⅓ of an academic year) in the fourth year. In almost every circumstance, the student pays three years’ tuition, and not more (typically, tuition rates are prorated depending on attendance).
“I’ve been fortunate to have had a number of very impressive and inspirational teachers, in different fields of study. However, in my experience, it is rare to come across a teacher who is one of the lights of the generation, someone who is above and beyond even the inspirational. If you are lucky enough to encounter a teacher like Tommy Thompson, it is worth doing everything in your power to organize your life in such a way as to be able to study with him.
I came into the training program looking for specific technical skills: as a Pilates instructor, I wanted to learn techniques to help my clients stop repeating the dysfunctional neuromuscular patterns that were causing them pain and producing functional limitations. While I am indeed learning these skills, what I have found in Tommy’s program has gone far beyond anything I expected. The aspect of the work that has been most meaningful in my life has been the concept of “withholding definition”,
Tommy’s concept of withholding definition suggests that we can lessen our commitment to seeing and doing as we usually see and do. As we lessen our commitment to reinforcing the habitual, the invisible hand of expectation loosens its grip on us, and we are able to take in more information from the world around us. As we take in more, possibly going beyond what we expect to see and hear, we can come up with a more fitting way to interact.
As I have been working to integrate the practice of withholding definition in my own life, I have seen my relationships with my family, friends, clients, and colleagues become richer and deeper. New solutions to problems show up, or sometimes something that I think is a problem turns out not to be.
If you are considering joining the training program, I can’t recommend it highly enough. In addition to Tommy’s rich and deep teaching, Debi Adams and Bob Lada also teach in the program every week. Debi and Bob are exceptional teachers, each with a unique style, and each bringing grace, humor, and different ways of finding the right word or touch to illuminate a difficult point. Other Boston area teachers come into the training on an approximately monthly basis, and guest teachers visit from around the country and around the world. In the training program, the principles and skills of the Alexander Technique are taught with an undergirding of Tommy’s deep humanism and compassion. Ideas such as looking for the beauty in each person, always striving to connect with the person, rather than working with a particular body part or a problem, and looking beyond any restrictions to see and work with the potential, are all wonderful ways to approach the Alexander work – and to bring home.”
Rachel teaches Pilates in Cambridge, Brookline, and Boston.