The Alexander Technique was developed by Frederick Matthias Alexander, an Australian actor and reciter, who was born in Tasmania in 1869.
During the early days of his Shakespearean acting career, Alexander experienced periods of chronic hoarseness during his performances. When medical experts could not offer him a long-term solution, Alexander set out to solve his problem on his own.
With the use of mirrors, Alexander noticed that while reciting, he pulled his head back, putting pressure on the larynx and the spine and tightening the neck muscles. He discovered that the way the head was balanced upon the spine and the relationship between the head, neck, and back, had a profound effect on the efficient functioning of the whole body.
Over almost a decade of self-observation and experiment, Alexander developed a fuller understanding of the mind and body as a psycho-physical entity; that thought processes and physical activities function in harmony as an integrated whole.
Alexander began teaching his technique in Melbourne in the 1890s, helping people with vocal and breathing problems. Physicians witnessed improvement in Alexander’s students and encouraged him to go to England, where they knew he would get the acclaim he deserved.
In 1904 Alexander moved to London, where his work attracted the attention of many well-known physicians, academics, and celebrities who showed great interest in his work.
Alexander started a school for children in London in 1924. The children were between three and eighteen and all had different reasons for being there – for example asthma, scoliosis, or reading difficulties.
F M Alexander wrote many articles and four books describing his technique.
In 1932 Alexander started the first three-year training school in London to train teachers. He continued to teach and develop the Technique until his death in 1955.
Today there are over a thousand Alexander Technique teachers and many training courses throughout the world. Teachers may be found in many countries, Alexander Technique teachers are employed in many music and drama schools, and research into the value of the Technique is growing.