Who studies AT?
Individuals take lessons for a variety of reasons. Below is a sampling of students
who study Alexander Technique with Katherine Mitchell. Click their name to read their comments or just scroll
- Martha Yates, horseback rider
- Jolly Stewart, Director of Washington University Opera
- Susan Ramming, pharmaceutical manager
- Brandon Christensen, Associate Professor of violin and viola,
Holland School of visual and performing arts, Southeast Missouri State University
- Jason Trabough, engineer, rock climber, chronic overuse injuries
- Mary W., special ed teacher, fibromyalgia
- Sally Van Doren, writer
- Jessica Goldring, writer and singer
- Sheila Browne, professional violist and teacher
- Elizabeth MacDonald, Director of Strings, Washington University
- Dan Hirsh, actor
I have been taking Alexander Technique lessons with Katherine for about a year and half.
I was motivated to start lessons by a dressage instructor who suggested that I take lessons "to learn what to do
with my head". I have been very
gratified by the progress. Alexander Technique work is very subtle, but it makes a huge difference. I had always felt like I didn't
have enough muscle power, but in reality I was working against my body. In releasing my head and back and learning not to work against
myself, I feel much fitter and more powerful. My balance has improved. My posture has improved. I have found my back, which is so
important in riding. My horses are very grateful as well because my harmony with them has increased. Some changes are immediate, but
others require more time. As you explore the use of your body, the Wow factor comes. When I went back after a year to the instructor
who suggested it, she was very impressed that I had found an Alexander Technique instructor who had helped me find my back. Katherine
is an excellent, empathetic teacher and I highly recommend her and the Alexander Technique to anyone. Moving better and using
ourselves well should be a goal for everyone, not just those with sports, recreation or other specific motivation.
Katherine Mitchell has for a number of years worked for Opera Theatre of Saint Louis's Spring Training
Program. The Program is a two week opera camp for 30 teenagers.
In the sessions Katherine has given the kids an understanding of the many positive advantages one can
receive when working on the Alexander Technique.
Comments heard after a class vary from how relaxed they feel, to how energized they are. Or just things
like 'that was waaaay cool! She's great!'
As coordinator for the camp, I try to assemble people from all facets of the world operatic singers draw
on during their careers. Katherine has worked on countless singers with huge success and is able to lead them to a new understanding
of the use of their bodies.
As the director of Washington University Opera, I have also asked Ms. Mitchell to work with the singers
in the opera class. She is able to communicate beautifully to each singer even in a group situation, moving each one with a personal
comment or a lovely soft guiding touch.
Katherine Mitchell is a great gift to all who meet and work with her.
I am writing to tell you how much I have benefited from working with you and
learning about the Alexander Technique!
Frankly, I continue to be amazed at the positive impact that it
has had on my life. For instance, I am now much more in alignment, it has freed up my head and neck,
improved my breathing, and resulted in much improved posture. Quite honestly, I not only feel taller
but much more agile and graceful!
The stiffness in my neck/shoulder area has been relieved, eliminating
the need for frequent massages (now I only have them as a treat)! Additionally, it has succeeded
in breaking a number of bad habits. My overall assessment is that while this technique is quite
subtle, its benefits are endless!
An additional bonus is that it is truly a pleasure to interact with you
and be one of your Alexander Technique students. I look forward to my Saturday afternoon classes
always! Your teaching has created an environment that has allowed me to totally embrace the Alexander
Technique, and be ready and willing to try new approaches, methods, and challenges.
My hope is that I can continue to gain more insight and better perspective
into the world of Alexander Technique, and continue to obtain even more value from better body awareness,
better alignment, and never regress to my "old habits"!
It is not an exaggeration for me to say to you that Alexander Technique has
changed my life. By that I mean everything about my life.
When I first started lessons it was as much a matter of curiosity as it was
any formal plan. I'd heard about the technique from various friends off and on, but always figured my
martial arts study, and the body work I'd done amounted to much the same thing. I guess I was like a lot
of first time AT students: I didn't really know what I was doing it for; I just had a sense that I ought
to be doing something. I had some intermittent shoulder pain, and I'd always heard that AT could 'help
your playing' so I was hoping for a few lessons and some quick revelations.
I was wrong in just about every way, and isn't that a wonderful thing? After
a few lessons I became fascinated by all the hundred ways I was getting in my own way. I was discovering
muscles I didn't know I had, and was thinking about my body in ways...and in places... I'd never even
imagined. I, frankly, forgot about the shoulder pain and the magic pill AT was supposed to be for my
playing. The process was far too interesting in and of itself.
After some months I started to wonder how it was I had even managed to walk
across the room pre-AT. The level of tension, blockage, misuse... abuse really is not too strong a word...
that I had been inflicting on myself was dumbfounding. The amazing thing to me was not even so much what I
was doing differently now, but that I had never noticed how badly I was misusing myself before. Gradually,
everything I did became easier. I forgot about my original goals, and felt as if each day, every moment
within each day, was an exploration of this wonderful new toy you were showing me. I began to know
Last year I had two major performances that I knew were truly going to test my
limits. I had a concerto with our Symphony, and I was performing an entire unaccompanied Bach sonata as
part of a dance performance. Playing from memory has long been one of my deamons, and few things are more
challenging in that regard than solo Bach. And so, more than 2 years after my initial lessons I began to
bring my violin. In fact over the intervening time I had already noticed tremendous changes in my playing.
Everything was easier, and I had been much more able to diagnose many of my own technical mis-steps. Even so,
working with you with violin in hand was fascinating, and tremendously helpful. In the 2 or more months I was
bringing my violin I made more progress than I have in years.
Both performances were very successful, and it wasn't until after they had both
finished that I looked back on my study of the Alexander Technique and realized that while I had long since
discarded my original goals of reducing back pain and improving my playing, both had come to pass, and had
in fact far exceeded my original expectations. It was an interesting revelation, because I now see that these
rather mundane improvements are truly the least of all I have gotten from AT. Every facet of my life is better,
more attentive, more fluid, more free.
So, thank you. Thank you for showing me not simply a new way of holding my
instrument, or a way to avoid a particular twinge, but for giving me a new way to perceive myself, and to
interact with my world.
Katherine Mitchell has been my Alexander Technique teacher for about the past
year and a half. I have had lessons from her almost every week during that time.
Since the first lesson, I have felt enormous improvement in my overall use. I
came to the Alexander Technique after four years of trying to improve an assortment of chronic overuse
injuries. Years of rock climbing, mountain biking, running and playing combined with lots of work seated
at a computer as an engineering graduate student left me with chronic pain in my elbows, wrists, knees,
hips, and basically every other joint. Prior to my Alexander lessons, I devoted significant efforts to
physical therapy, pilates, rolfing, and yoga. I improved and learned a great deal from all of that work,
but was never quite satisfied. It always seemed that there must be a way to complete that element of the
work that was missing, something that would tie it all together and truly help me to improve in all
aspects of my movement.
I believe that my Alexander Technique lessons with Katherine have done exactly
that. I am climbing again at a level of difficulty that was close to what I could do before, and am using
much less strength and effort to do it. I take a weekly class in modern dance and am almost keeping up
with students who have much more experience. My chronic injuries rarely prevent me from pushing myself.
Although they still exist, I am more aware of subtle sensations and movement habits that contribute to
them and can usually change my habits to manage any difficulties. Similarly, in my work and excessive
computer use, I have a better sense of how I am moving and not moving and what and when to change to
improve my use and reduce any ill effects.
I attribute much of my good fortune to having found Katherine and the Alexander
Technique. I have endorsed her enthusiastically to friends and am even encouraging (strongly) my fiancé to
take her training course. I recommend her highly as a teacher of the Alexander Technique.
I faced serious injury following a fall down a flight of stairs in the dark, and
found myself in chronic daily pain. For 3 ½ years, I tried different methods of recovery, including
traditional medicine, massage therapy, and the services of a chiropractor and an acupuncturist.
During this time, I also developed fibromyalgia, which meant there was no end to
the pain; and then my osteoarthritis flared up. I was getting desperate. It was increasingly difficult to
do my job-I teach young children with special needs, a job requiring a considerable amount of physical
stamina and endurance, as well as patience.
I started to look into going on disability, but decided to give alternative
methods another try. The first one on my list was the Alexander Technique.
Ironically, about two weeks after I started my Alexander Technique lessons with
Katherine Mitchell, I was also diagnosed with a herniated disc in my lower back but by then I was relatively
pain-free. The gentle techniques employed in the Alexander lessons helped me so much, right from the
Whereas everything else I had tried had really hurt to do, and was only mildly
effective in relieving my symptoms, it was wonderful to find that the Alexander Technique not only gave me
great relief from pain, it also gave me my balance back, and fixed the underlying problem. (I had gotten
into poor posture habits from those years of being hunched over in pain.)
Almost a year later, I cannot believe the changes in my life. I have almost no
pain. The fibromyalgia symptoms have largely disappeared. My balance is back to normal, and my energy level
is much improved. I have resumed my normal daily activities, including full-time teaching, along with
extensive gardening, and have learned better patterns of posture and movement, which enable me to stay
I was first drawn to the Alexander Technique through a friend who was
studying to be a teacher in 1985 who impressed upon me how great it was to use the Alexander Technique
to develop a greater sense of physical awareness which sustains one through all one's daily activities,
whether they be sedentary, exercise or performance related.
I was so happy when I moved to St. Louis to find in Katherine Mitchell an
experienced teacher who guides one carefully and thoroughly toward self-transformation. Her thoughtful
and gentle manner is deceptively revolutionary.
Jessica was a participant at the
'Writing as a Physical Act' workshop.
What an incredible experience! Who knew that the combination of writing and
movement would unlock such a treasure trove of creativity? I left the Balance Arts Center’s Act of Writing
workshop having learned to dance the Villanelle, choreographed my own dance and with four nearly completed
poems. Prior to the workshop, I had always considered myself to be an academic writer and somewhat clumsy
or uncoordinated. I never dreamed I would write poetry and experience dance as a fulfilling means of
self-expression. The class was comprised of a group of talented writers from diverse backgrounds and
disciplines—novelists, journalists, screenwriters, playwrights and poets. The exchange of ideas within
the group and the sharing of our writing with one another has fostered the beginnings of new projects as
well as supportive friendships to sustain each other as we strive to complete works that are already
underway. I recommend this workshop to anyone who has ever struggled with writer’s block or to anyone who
has either dreamed of dancing or writing and never had the courage to try.
The Alexander Technique has enriched my quality of life as a professional
violist (and as a human being) enormously! Heightened self-awareness is crucial for those of us who have
the inner need to keep growing throughout life. The AT provides the tools to make this possible. The
Alexander Technique's hands-on approach is something unique. The transmission of ideas through human
touch is certainly underemphasized in our society. For musicians this pathway of communication opens up
a powerful new source of ideas and experiences that can transform how one moves, thinks, and feels, and
in so doing, improves ones music-making.
The Alexander Technique's less judgmental and less goal-oriented style of
learning has been very freeing and productive. It has given me relief from a more stressful approach to
music and to life.
Several years ago I went through a bad patch, caused, as I believed at the time,
by needing to learn a difficult piece quickly during the time that leaves needed to be raked. Activities
that I had taken for granted, like reaching down to pick up the newspaper in the morning or stretching to
get clothes from the dryer, became an agony. Though I continued to practice and perform during that period,
I was worried that this discomfort could become career-threatening.
The Alexander Technique was something I had always heard about but it wasn’t what
I expected, and it has been far more beneficial than I could have hoped. It has influenced my performance
and teaching, and I am very grateful for all that I have learned through Katherine’s patient teaching.
Director of Strings
I began to notice, as my college career as an actor developed, a lot of stress and strain I was putting
on myself while onstage. Although my performances usually went off well with an audience, I was putting myself through a lot more
unproductive effort vocally and physically than I needed to.
I began studying with Katherine without really knowing what to expect. I had only had a brief exposure
to Alexander Technique during a workshop in London. I can't even begin to tell you how it changed me.
Not even mentioning the sense of well-being I felt more and more of as lessons progressed, was the
relaxation, the loss of tension, the confidence and the ease with which I could now act and speak onstage.
After three and a half years of studying with Katherine, I found that 'body alignment' was only the
beginning of the fruits of our work together. The AT applies to me as not only an actor, but as a human being. I was better able
to access a vast pool of energy to use both onstage and in life.
Studying with Katherine made me feel completely balanced with my body, and completely at ease with what
I was doing. It taught me the fine line between putting in too much energy to my work, and not putting enough.
Although I am leaving St. Louis, I plan on actively pursuing AT wherever I go, to better myself as an
actor and human being.
- Contact Katherine Mitchell
firstname.lastname@example.org (314) 647-0483