Lessons With Miss G: #5,Trees, Roots, Museums and Chairs

“Trees have roots” said Miss G, “which connect them with the ground.”

I had heard lots of teachers speak about ‘rooting to the ground’ – but never Miss Goldie. I was surprised, but somehow felt on more familiar ground. “Trees… roots…..yes I know about all that…”

Then, as if to shock me out of my complacency, she stood back a foot or so and added, “But we are not trees. Legs are not for support, they are for movement.

* * *

One of my colleagues, with a background in sports training and the athletic physique to go with it, turned up for her first lesson with Miss G. She stood in front of the chair – powerful legs wide apart – ready for whatever Miss G could throw at her. But she was little prepared for what did come her way.

Looking her up and down in her inimitable fashion, Miss G said:

“Good heavens! What are you doing with your legs? You look like the British Museum”

* * *

Another young teacher or trainee, a bit overconfident about his “style” of working, came along for his first lesson. Miss G, doubtless having sized him up as he came through the door, remained seated at her desk as she said to him, “Just go and stand in front of that chair would you”. She then added, “But you are not going to sit down.”

The young man went over to the chair and, falling straight into her trap, immediately put his feet wide apart.

She got up, came over and said, “What on earth are you doing? Why have you put your feet so wide apart?”

Diving straight into the second trap he responded, “Yes Miss Goldie, but I find that having a broader base for the feet provides me with much better support for getting into the chair.”

“Oh I see” she replied, “So you are sitting down, are you!”

© 2013 John S Hunter

The Trustees of the Charity for the F Matthias Alexander Technique are piloting what we call a “legacy project” with the aim of recording and storing material about first-generation teachers trained by F M Alexander. The first subject of the project will be Margaret Goldie (1905-1997).Anyone who knew Miss Goldie, either in a personal capacity or as a pupil, is invited to contact the Charity with a view to participating in the project: https://www.fmatcharity.org/legacy-project.html

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One response to “Lessons With Miss G: #5,Trees, Roots, Museums and Chairs”

  1. Jonathan Leathwood says :

    Thank you very much for this and your other very interesting posts, John. You once suggested that I try to have some lessons with Miss Goldie. Unfortunately, that was just before I went to live in the US, but I did manage to have two lessons. Everyone warned me not to do anything Alexanderish—don’t stand with your feet too wide apart, no learned tricks, etc, etc. I thought, well, how hard can it be? But when I entered the room, I asked Miss Goldie, “Where would you like my shoes?’ “Your shoes?” (She sounded very mystified.) “Yes, shall I put them by the door?” “I want them on your feet!”

    As she put me in front of the chair she said, “Mr Alexander’s first direction was to stop.”

    Later on in the lesson: “Why do the old thing?”

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