The Alexander Technique is named after its founder, Frederick Mathias Alexander (1869-1955).  He was born in Wynyard, Tasmania, Australia.  Alexander was a skilled and impassioned Shakespearian orator and actor.  He studied voice, breathing, and drama with the best of his day.  Alexander was embarked on a brilliant career when he began to lose his voice.  He sought medical help and was told to go on vocal rest.  He did recover upon rest, but as soon as he resumed performing, Alexander began to experience hoarseness and chronic vocal fatigue.  Nothing he had learned while resting his voice had given him tools to preserve and protect his voice.  He deduced that since his vocal problems only occurred as a result of performing that there must be something he was doing to produce the problem.  Alexander spent the next eight years observing himself, trying to discover what he was doing that was bringing about the problem.  In the end he developed what we now call the Alexander Technique, a discipline that enables people to move and live in a connected, poised, and powerful manner. F. M. Alexander went on to have a brilliant performing and teaching career.

Mr. Alexander resumed his performing career in London.  His performances were noted for the ease and fullness of his breath.  Fellow actors sought him out to learn his technique and he became known as the “respiratory man”.  When “FM” as many called him began to explain his technique to these actors he realized that they could not understand his verbal explanations and that he would need to use his hands to give them the experience of doing what he did.  Teaching became a whole new venture for him which eventually became his new passion.  Alexander was not afraid to put his ideas out to the general public and often wrote corrections and comments about articles published in prominent newspapers.  He attracted a following of some of the most influential doctors, actors and thinkers of his day including Aldous Huxley, John Dewey, and George Bernard Shaw.  Deborah Caplan shown in the photo above had AT lessons as a child and became a physical therapist.  She decided to learn the AT because she felt it would get to the bottom of the problem her patients were having.  She specialized in working with people with back pain and scoliosis.  Many of the students in F. M. Alexanders first training courses went on to teach and then train the current generation of Alexander Technique teachers.

Alexander Technique

The Alexander Technique (AT) is a method for getting rid of unwanted postural habits and movement patterns that interfere with smooth performance—not just performance on stage, but also in living our lives. Whether you tend to get a stiff neck when you play the violin or paint a ceiling or look into a microscope, or lower back pain from working long hours at a desk, the Alexander Technique can help you to improve your overall functioning, move with greater ease, and breathe more deeply.


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