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F.M. Alexander (1869-1955) was an Australian actor who developed problems with his voice. Sometimes in the course of a performance his voice gave out entirely. He consulted doctors who could not help, so he resolved to discover the cause of his problem and cure it on his own. Observing himself with mirrors he eventually detected patterns of tension in his head and neck as he spoke. He developed strategies to release the tension and short-circuit his old habits. In time, he learned to speak without tension in his neck and he recovered full use of his voice.

F. M. Alexander

Alexander recognized that the habits that had hampered his performing were characteristic of many people, and that these patterns of mis-use (as he came to call it) could affect many activities in addition to speaking. Standing, sitting, walking, breathing could all be adversely affected by chronic habits of tension. Alexander began to share his insights and teach others, first in Australia and later in England. His work attracted the attention of prominent people. George Bernard Shaw, Aldous Huxley, and John Dewey were among his pupils. He trained others to apply his methods, which became known as "The Alexander Technique." Alexander died in London in 1955.

Alexander Technique can be valuable to everyone. It is especially valuable to people who speak publicly, and to people whose work involves subtle co-ordination of mind and body, such as actors, dancers and musicians. It can be immensely helpful to injured musicians. Many schools of acting and music now require that students study Alexander Technique.

Today Alexander teachers can be found throughout the world and there are several centers dedicated to training Alexander teachers.

There are numerous excellent books on Alexander Technique. Among them are:

  • Barbara Conable. How to Learn the Alexander Technique. Andover Press, Third Edition, 1995.
  • Michael J. Gelb. Body Learning. Owl Books, Henry Holt and Company, Second Edition, 1995.
  • Pedro de Alcantara. Indirect Procedures: A Musician's Guide to the Alexander Technique. Oxford University Press, 1997

A wealth of information about many aspects of the Alexander Technique can be found at The Complete Guide to the Alexander Technique.

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