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F.M. Alexander

Frederick Matthias Alexander (1869-1955)

Frederick Matthias Alexander is the namesake of Alexander Technique.

Born in Tasmania, Australia, he took an interest in reciting Shakespearian plays and became an actor. Struggling with chronic hoarseness in his voice which doctors could not solve, he tasked himself with finding out what was causing him to lose his voice. Through careful observation of his speaking habits in a mirror and working with students, he discovered patterns of tension. Tension particularly around the head and neck area caused depression of the larynx, resulting in consequences of undue tension throughout the rest of the body. He used critical reasoning skills to address habits and re-envision postural relationships, resulting in dynamic, balanced coordination. This process was coined “The Alexander Technique.” He taught pupils and trained teachers in Melbourne, London, New York, and Boston and taught lessons to leading doctors, educators, and actors of the era. The Alexander Technique is now practiced around the world. 

 

Writings

F.M. Alexander wrote four books throughout his lifetime–Man’s Supreme Inheritance (1918), Conscious Constructive Control of the Individual (1923), The Use of the Self (1932), and The Universal Constant in Living (1941).

An important note re: Alexander's writings:

I believe the procedures which make up the Alexander Technique are innovative and life giving resources. I do not, however, stand by the entirety of F.M.’s writing and opinions. The crux of the art of the Alexander Technique is challenging habitual assumptions as a tool for change, and F.M. failed at this when referencing debunked racist ‘pseudoscience’ in his writings. As a teacher I reject those ignorant theories and commit to the process of consciously unlearning bad habits in order to create a healing trajectory toward vitality.

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FM teaching a lesson, demonstrating the "head forward and up, back to lengthen and widen" directions with his left hand. 

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