The Evolution of the Alexander Technique.

F.M. Alexander (1869-1955) was born in Tasmania. He made a career for himself giving recitations of the works of Shakespeare. He developed voice problems, which caused hoarseness and loss of voice during recitations. He consulted doctors and followed advice to rest before performances. As Alexander's problems did not improve, he set out to find out if he could help himself. He used mirrors to observe himself during ordinary speaking and during recitation. He found out that when he started to recite he pulled back his head, depressed his larynx, and sucked in air through his mouth. In time he also noticed that he when he pulled his head back, he shortened in stature. Alexander experimented for months and finally found a way of changing his use of himself that allowed him to recite without losing his voice. He realised that he needed to prevent habits of use, which were harmful, and then use his head, neck and back in a different way, which allowed him to function more efficiently. Alexander developed skill in diagnosing harmful use in individuals. Doctors sent him patients, whom they were unable to treat effectively. Alexander helped people with a range of ailments, e.g. indigestion, sciatica, poor circulation, and angina pectoris, as well as so called nervous and mental troubles". (The Use of the Self.pp 60)


Photograph of F. M. Alexander © 2010, The Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique, London.