In the spring 2021 a marketing consultant asked me if anyone has ever systematically inquired what people look for when they come to learn the Alexander Technique and to what extent people get what they look for as they learn the technique. I replied that these and other enquiries, studies and research have been made internationally but certainly never in Finland. I then decided to ask this question among my former and present clients. I have made a career in evaluation studies in the field of international development cooperation and in the Finnish social and health sector development. This means that gathering, analysis and documenting qualitative information is familiar to me. I made this study alone with no extra resources. I did have an access to one fabulous external resource though: I got some valuable comments and perspectives from my colleague Soile Lahdenperä, D.A. (Dance), MFinSTAT.
I sent three open, qualitative questions to the customers whose e-mail addresses I had.
1) Why did you start taking lessons/ participated to the workshop/s? What were you looking for?
2) Did you get what you were looking for? If yes/ no, describe it with a few sentences.
3) What else did you learn or perceive by learning the technique?
The questionnaire also asks for factors like age, sex, education level in case the data should later be analyzed by these variables. Clients were interviewed both literally and orally depending on what they preferred. Elaborating questions were asked when required. This would be like “What do you mean when you say…?” 94 customers participated to the enquiry. It will be impossible to estimate how many persons received the questionnaire, since I have been teaching in numerous business enterprises, other workplaces and schools/ universities/ conservatoires over the years. The questionnaire was sent to the contact person who then forwarded it to their employees/ students.
The data has been analyzed by classifying the answers under some common categories that were created by interpreting the content of the replies. The categories include “Wanting to learn to move easier”, “Needing tools to physical exercise/ sports”, “Seeking help for pain”, “Wanting to learn to release tension”, “Curiosity”, “The technique was included in the curriculum/ occupational welfare program” etc.
The purpose of this inquiry was to 1 Find out why people start learning the technique, to what extent and how well they feel they have found help or answers to their problems/ questions, and how they use the technique in their lives; 2 Provide some qualitative indicators to analyze the results and impact of learning the technique in other related enquiries.
This is a qualitative analysis. Any kind of quantitative analysis is impossible by this kind of an approach, although I have also used some numbers where they have been available.
Highly likely the people who replied are the ones who have been very happy with their experience. Thus, this inquiry does NOT answer questions like “What percentage of customers come to lessons/ workshops for certain reasons and what percentage of them experience various things?” There have been quantitative studies about the results and impact of the technique, one good source being https://www.alexandertechniquescience.com.
I have written and published a series of blogs in my mother language, Finnish, while analyzing the data. I’ve published 9 blogs so far and will now translate them into English. This was the original intention anyways, but several colleagues have also asked me to translate the texts. Writing the blogs while reading and analyzing the material has given me an opportunity to analyze and report a small piece of information at a time, keeping the work light and effortless. It also allows me to give credit to the richness and multidimensionality of the answers. Instead of worrying about the right footnotes being in place or creating an adequate theoretical framework, I’ve concentrated on raising individual quotes to invigorate the text and make it more readable and understandable to a larger audience than just the already committed. Alas, I’ve named this series of blogs “Towards effortlessness”. Not only because of the nature of a process I’ve chosen but also because the answerers so vividly provided this theme in their speech and writing.
The second blog opens the answers by people who looked for help to pain.