History of the Alexander Technique

alexanddogF. M. Alexander was originally an actor in the Victorian era. His very successful career became shadowed by recurring voice problems; eventually he lost his voice altogether duringa very important engagement. Doctors could find nothing wrong with him, so he was essentially was forced to retire from the stage.

He spent the next decade observing himself and what he did when actually reciting. Pinpointing the source of the problem was quite simple; to stop himself from that habitual way of moving, especially in a heightened performance situation, was quite another matter. His discoveries and ultimate “cure” for his own ailment – and the subsequent profound effect on his own health in general, led to cries forhelp from other.

A significant factor in the Alexander Technique is that it was not developed as a saleable commodity – it was the doctors in Sydney, Australia, who had watched F.M.’s progress with interest, who eventually asked him to give them ‘advice’ on other patients. These same doctors were also involved in pressing F.M. to take his discoveries and move to England, where the principles of the Alexander Technique were published in the British Medical Journal to great acclaim.

FM_birdcageThe Technique F.M. Alexander pioneered was also actively embraced by his contemporaries and students such as George Bernard Shaw, Aldous Huxley, and John Dewey. Throughout the years the Technique continues to be embraced by the famous (and not so famous!) of succeeding generations, as diverse as Nobel Peace Prize winner Tirnbergen or comic actor John Cleese. The Technique is influential in the world of sports, as well as everyday life, where it has shown incredible results in dealing with chronic pain, TMJ and RSI (Carpel Tunnel Syndrome), childbirth, and even serious illnesses like Cerebral Palsy, cancer, and Multiple Sclerosis.

A growing number of clinical trials exist which give scientific backing to the effect of the Technique on everything from respiratory lung capacity to anxiety to back pain to Parkinson’s disease. Its effectiveness in dealing with performance problems and enhancing ability in the arts is internationally recognized, and Alexander Teachers are on staff at such prominent institutions as the Stratford Festival (Canada), Julliard (New York) and the Royal Academy of Music (London).

For more background on F. M. Alexander, see: www.alexandertechnique.com/fma.htm

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