F.M. Alexander (1869 -1955)
Frederick Matthias Alexander was born in Tasmania and later emigrated to England.
He was a successful actor but his work was disrupted when he developed a hoarse voice.
On the advice of his Doctor, he rested his voice and it returned to normal.
However, whenever he started reciting again to an audience, his voice issues would return.
Faced with the prospect of his career being ruined, Alexander observed himself in the mirror to see if he was doing anything unusual when reciting. His suspicions were confirmed when he observed that every time he started to speak in his ‘recital’ voice, he pulled his head backwards and compressed his throat. He also noticed that he gripped the floor with his feet. Both of these also occurred (in a much more subtle way) during his normal manner of speech.
After experimenting, Alexander was able to prevent his habitual movements in relation to speaking and was able to return to his reciting. He also started to teach others how to be aware and eradicate unhelpful habits in relationship to speech (particularly stutterers), breathing and movement in general.
The Alexander Technique is based on the principle that we develop unconscious habits in the way we speak, move, sit, stand, walk, bend and even breathe.
During lessons, the student can become aware of these unhelpful patterns of movement and learn to change old habits for improved habits, which lead to the most biomechanically efficient use of the body.
The Use of The Self, by F.M. Alexander