The Alexander Technique
HIstory - it all started with F.M. Alexander
Frederick Matthias Alexander was born on the Australian island of Tasmania, in 1869. He developed his technique in the 1890’s in response to his own recurrent hoarseness and loss of voice whilst attempting to make a career as an actor and reciter of Shakespearean monologues, mostly in Melbourne.
Realizing that he had come upon something of greater significance than solving his own problems and helping other actors, he chose to devote himself solely to teaching. He first moved to Sydney in 1902 and then in 1904 to London, to enable his work to benefit a much wider public. He taught his technique in England for many, many years and then later in the USA, as well.
Among his students were George Bernard Shaw, John Dewey and Aldous Huxley, together with many great names of the London theatre, both actors and singers, and a wide range of people recommended to him by doctor friends who considered his work to be of great benefit.
Remarkably, within twenty years of arriving in London, this largely self-educated pioneer from the former penal settlement of Tasmania included among his clientele the Chief of Staff of the British army and Bishop William Temple who later became Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Anglican Church.
On the US side, along with Prof. John Dewey, his clientele included historian James Harvey Robinson, philosophers Horace Kallen and Randolph Bourne, educationalist and founder of Art Therapy, Margaret Naumberg, and commercial tycoons such as James B. Duke.
He began a formal program for training others to teach his work in 1931, but the outbreak of World War II slowed the spread of the technique. Near the end of 1947 he suffered a very severe stroke, but made a remarkable recovery and continued to teach until only a few weeks before his death at the age of 86 in 1955. When Australia celebrated its Bicentennial in 1988, he was honored by the Australian government as
“One of the 200 people who made Australia great.”
The plaque they placed in his honor at his birthplace in Wynyard, Tasmania reads:
“Frederick Matthias Alexander, discoverer of fundamental facts about functional human movement.”
A randomised controlled trial for patients with chronic low back pain was published in the British Medical Journal in 2008.
It showed that 24 Alexander Technique lessons led to a significant reduction in pain from 21 days to 3 days per month, and an improvement in functioning and quality of life by
"limiting muscle spasm, strengthening postural muscles, improving co-ordination and flexibility and decompressing the spine".
STAT leads campaign to ban school chairs that are bad for children's backs.
Recommended Reading List
As well as having private lessons, it can be helpful to read any one or more of the recommended books below.
Links connected to the Alexander Technique
Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique
Grove Business Centre
Unit 48, 560-568 High Road
020 8885 6524
Alexander Technique Resources
for your first lesson today.
Photographs of F. M. Alexander © 2014, The Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique, London