The Technique

Who Alexander was and How he discovered the Technique

Frederick Matthias Alexander (1869-1955), was born in Tasmania. He moved to Australia in 1889 as a young man and became an actor, mainly earning his living by reciting Shakespeare. After a time he began to lose his voice when he came to recite on stage and sought the help of doctors and voice coaches. No one could find a cure for him so he set about observing himself from different angles in mirrors. After many months he discovered that the pressure of performance (even without an audience) made him thrust his neck forward which caused his head to push back and down. This depressed the larynx and tightened the vocal chords which led to him becoming hoarse. He found a simple (but not obvious) way to avoid this unhelpful habit. He then went on to work out how other stresses and strains came about in his body and mind and to free himself from these using the same method.

He came to realise that most people also suffered from excessive tension in various parts of themselves preventing them from performing even everyday activities with ease and optimum efficiency. As a result of working so thoroughly on himself his main activity became helping others to help themselves to live more freely and with more enjoyment.

Alexander was invited to come to London in 1904 and became very successful. During the First World War he spent time in America where he practised with equal success and won over the American philosopher John Dewey.

He returned to London in 1924 and in 1931 started the first course to train others to practise his work. He wrote four books (all still in print), and his supporters included Aldous Huxley, George Bernard Shaw and Stafford Cripps, who all had lessons with him. Alexander died in London.