F.M. Alexander's Story

Frederick Matthias Alexander was a Tasmanian-born, successful Shakespearean actor. (1869 – 1955) He would often lose his voice during performances, but despite consulting numerous doctors he could not find a long-term solution or treatment to solve this distressing symptom. He decided that it must be something that he was doing to cause his problem, and set about trying to find out what it was.

Over a period of ten years he observed himself, in everyday activities and in a more detailed manner through the use of several mirrors. During this process of self- observation and experimentation he found that whilst reciting he used his whole self in ways that led to extreme tension. To his surprise, he found that willpower alone was not enough to prevent his old habits reappearing. Eventually he discovered that if he prevented himself “getting ready” to carry out an activity with unconstructive patterns, and projected conscious thoughts (“directions”, such as “allow my back to lengthen and widen”) then everything became easier. His vocal hoarseness disappeared, as did many health problems with which he had suffered since childhood.

He began teaching his method to other people and came to London in 1904, where he lived until his death in 1955.

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