The thing, then, in all education is to make the nervous system your ally and not your enemy.
William James

The man behind the Alexander Technique

fmFredrick Matthias Alexander was born in Tasmania, Australia in 1869. An actor, he developed a reputation for reciting Shakespeare on the stages and in the private homes of Melbourne.

Alexander’s livelihood came under threat when he began to develop hoarseness and respiratory difficulties during performances. When he followed the advice of doctors and vocal therapists to rest his voice, his hoarseness resolved. However, the problem returned whenever he resumed his work. With the medical specialists unable to find a permanent solution to his problem, Alexander decided to find one himself.

Through keen observation, Alexander realised that his hoarseness must be the result of something he was doing when he was performing. Using mirrors to observe the way he used his body when he spoke and when he recited, Alexander not only noticed the tension he placed on his vocal area but also the faulty pattern of use of his whole body when he projected his voice. This pattern was the source of his vocal problems.

By further exploring how these habitual patterns of misuse interfered with his general physical function, Alexander uncovered the importance of the relationship of the head, neck and back in all movement. He discovered that promoting freedom of this relationship enabled him to prevent his hoarseness. He also recognised the role of his thoughts in affecting his vocal use, particularly during preparation for speaking. His habits of thinking and doing were the key to the quality of his voice, vocal health and longevity.

These observations kick-started Alexander’s journey towards understanding the nature of habit and how to overcome physical problems that stem from bad habits. His investigations and discoveries led him to see how, with the application of his ideas and practice, he could gain better use of the body and mind in all actions.

Alexander moved to London in 1904 and continued to develop and teach the principles, practice and application of the Alexander Technique until his death in 1955.

The Alexander technique is taught worldwide and there are many informative resources available.
You may find something of interest to you in my Blog. Here I share some commentaries and opinions on the Alexander technique and related topics.

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