The Alexander Technique – Who was Alexander?

FM Alexander - founder of the Alexander Technique

photo © 2005 The Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique, London

 

The Alexander Technique was founded by Frederick Matthias Alexander, an Australian actor born in 1869.  He became hoarse and struggled for breath on stage. Doctors did not find anything physically wrong with him and advised him to rest his voice for a few weeks.

His voice came back but his problems returned as soon as he recited again.  He wondered what he was doing wrong and set up a room with mirrors all around. He observed himself closely and discovered that he had a number of habits as soon as he went to talk.  The habits included tipping his head back, sticking his chest out and tightening his legs.

He spent time quietening these habits which were strongly established. He also freed up his body tensions helping his voice to become strong and giving him a lot of breath control  Other actors asked for his advice which led to him sharing his Technique with them.

He became known as the “Breathing Doctor” and medics asked him to help with some of their patients. They were so impressed with his abilities that they urged him to go to England to expand his work. He came over to London in 1904 and set up a training course to train Alexander Teachers in the 1930s. He died in 1955 at the age of 87, teaching the Alexander Technique right up until his end.

My teachers, Walter and Dilys Carrington, trained with Alexander and worked alongside him from the 1930s until he died. Walter was full of wonderful stories about Alexander, or FM as he was known, and I feel very privileged to have trained with him and Dilys.

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