History of the Alexander Technique

F. M. Alexander
F.M. Alexander

The Alexander Technique was developed by Frederick Mathias Alexander who was born in Tasmania in 1869. Even though he was not robust as a small child and spent many hours with his books and horses, he was bright and inquisitive. By the time he was in his twenties he was living in Australia and earning his living by acting and reciting works such as Shakespeare.

Then his voice started to fail him, he became hoarse when he performed. When the doctors and medics could not help him he came to the conclusion that he must be doing something to himself to cause the problem. He set up two mirrors and patiently watched himself speak. Gradually he began to understand that it was his unconscious habits that were causing him to lose his voice. He noticed that when he spoke he moved his head back and down on his spine and shortened his stature. He gives a wonderful account of this development of the Technique in his book 'The Use of the Self'.

When he returned to the stage special compliments were paid to his voice. Then he began to notice others misuse themselves in a similar way so he started to teach his Technique.

In 1904 Alexander came to England with letters of recommendation and became known as the breathing man. He never returned to the stage, but carried on teaching his Technique both here in England and in America until he died in 1955.