Colin Tully is a highly acclaimed composer and musician. He qualified as an Alexander Technique Teacher from A & J Haahr’s School at Dartington Hall in 1983
“The AT could be described as a method which explores how the mind effects the body. At the age of ten, long before I’d ever heard of Alexander, I made my first experiments with influencing a physical outcome with a mental attitude.
“During a game of golf I discovered that if I didn’t try too hard or even adopted a ‘couldn’t care less’ attitude I generally found that I would have a better chance of hitting a golf ball where I wanted it to go. This, I thought, was my own unique discovery (which sadly did not lead me to become especially good at golf, just a slightly less moody child for my father to play his game of golf with!).
“When, at the age of nineteen, in my first Alexander lesson my teacher said the words ‘don’t try’ as he took me in and out of the chair, it connected with my earlier golf experience. So, there I was in this lesson, being asked to ‘try less hard’, ‘make less effort’ and I again noticed that my mental attitude could affect the physical outcome. I noticed with a rising sense of relief that an enormous heaviness, of which I had been hitherto unaware, was no longer pressing my body down.
“As I strolled home from this lesson, the physical lightness was matched by a different and more optimistic mental outlook. More things seemed possible. The future was bright. I was hooked and went back for more!
“Several years of private lessons ensued, followed by a training course in 1980–83 at Dartington College, Totnes, Devon, which for me was a blissfully, self-indulgent journey of self-exploration. Fortunately, the reality of passing on Alexander’s principles to other people, i.e. teaching, has brought me back down to earth. Occasionally, one does get difficult pupils but in a general sense, Alexander teachers can count themselves lucky to be in a ‘person based’ profession with possibilities of really making a difference for people.
“So what was the ‘enormous heaviness’ that was weighing me down as a teenager? Awkwardness, perhaps, or emotional difficulties which most of us go through at that age.
“Another factor was an obsession with playing various musical instruments. Piano, guitar, flute and saxophone all left their impression on my physical structure i.e. I was hunching over at the piano, twisting to play the flute etc.
“Needless to say the Technique has helped me a lot in the relationship with my instruments and playing, not just in a purely physical sense but helping to keep me free and constructive within a greater range of musical environments.
“Nowadays my professional life is happily split between playing saxophone, (I lead my own band) exploring the ‘use of myself’ in music and teaching the Alexander Technique to pupils and trainee teachers.
“Perhaps, however the most daunting field of exploration is in my loving relationship with my two high energy daughters, who daily threaten to transform me back to the grumpy man I might have become.”