Be Persistent! Stickability, Creativity and the Alexander Technique

This is the fifth and final post in a short series on what FM Alexander can teach us about steps to creativity. The first post was called Make Mistakes! The second post was called Make Decisions! The third post was called Make Allowances! The fourth post was called Be Methodical!


En route to South Korea (and ultimately Australia), I found a wonderful documentary on the airline entertainment system last night. It was about Jascha Heifetz, the great violinist. According to the documentary, after living and touring in America for a few years, the young Heifetz began to enjoy the trappings of fame – cameras, cars, parties – and moved away from the highly regimented practice regime that he had previously followed. But after a particularly poor review by a journalist called Henderson, in which the reporter suggested that The performer was short-changing his audience, Heifetz was so shocked that he made massive changes in his lifestyle almost overnight. He became, once more, the consummate professional and utterly brilliant virtuoso.

The story fascinated me because it reminded me of another key characteristic of the great creative minds: persistence.

Heifetz didn’t quit. He didn’t ignore the criticism. He took the setback in his stride, accepted the criticism, and acted upon it.

In a similar way, FM Alexander faced difficulties in his efforts to find a solution to his vocal problems. He had spent months observing and experimenting. But after he had tried putting his head forward and up but still found that he could not prevent his habitual misuse of himself, he wrote this line:

“I now had proof of one thing at least, that all my efforts up till now to improve the use of myself in reciting had been misdirected.”

This sounds like a setback to me! But Alexander, like Heifetz, didn’t give up. He keep thinking, reasoning, observing and experimenting. He went right back to the beginning and started again. He worked really hard.

Setbacks are normal, no matter what our field of expertise. But our creativity demands that we overcome whatever seems to block our path. In fact, as with Heifetz and Alexander, the setbacks can often become a spur to even greater accomplishment. The key is not to give up.

What obstacles are challenging your creativity? And how are you going to spur yourself on?