Reflections on my work with Frank Pierce Jones in light of my other experiences with the Alexander Technique [Joe Armstrong]

Material Type: 
Article, essay, etc


This article describes the author’s experience of learning the Alexander Technique, and of learning to teach the Alexander Technique, with a particular focus on his experiences with Frank Pierce Jones (1905–1975) starting in 1968 and continuing intermittently until Pierce Jones died. The author also comments on his encounters with Pierce Jones’s wife, Helen Rumsey Jones (?–1993). Some criticisms are offered of some aspects of Pierce Jones’s approach compared with that of other first-generation teachers, such as the Carringtons and Peggy Williams, with whom Armstrong trained.

At the same time, the author describes the Joneses’ serious concern regarding a perceived dilution of teaching standards in the USA in the period before Pierce Jones died, in particular the growing emphasis on group work as an approach to teaching the Alexander Technique.  Armstrong concludes that both the approach to teaching and the approach to training teachers adopted by first-generation teachers such as Carrington are the appropriate ones. 

In its mild criticisms of Pierce Jones, the article offers an implicit challenge to the prevailing hagiographic approach to key figures in Alexander Technique history.