Fredrick Matthias Alexander was born in Tasmania in the year 1869. As a child he was often ill , too ill to go to school and so he was educated at home. He developed a passion for the plays of Shakespeare and left home in his early teens to take voice and elocution lessons in Melbourne with view to becoming an actor. He formed his own theater company which toured New Zealand and he knew some success, however he often experienced hoarseness and the loss of the power of his voice during performances.
The many doctors he consulted recommended rest cure. Sometimes he would not speak aloud for two weeks before an important recital, but even under these very strict conditions he found it hard to get to the end of a performance without his hoarseness reoccurring. His capacity for logical thinking obliged him to conclude that there was something in what he himself was doing which was causing the problem and his doctor agreed. When he asked his doctor what this was his doctor admitted that he could not tell him. With this Alexander set about finding the cause for himself, armed only with three mirrors and his unique powers of observation.
He noticed that when he got ready to recite he tensed his neck muscles which pulled his head back and down. At about the same time he took in a noisy gasp of air which compressed his vocal cords and tensed his body as a whole which appeared shorter. Alexander found ways of altering this habit of getting ready to recite and the result was after a long period of practice his voice problem disappeared.
The improvement in his performance was so noticeable that others asked him how he had achieved this, and as he started to observe others as a result of their questions he noticed that far from being a problem which affected only himself , the problems of gasping in air, tensing the neck, throwing back the head and depressing the vocal cords was very widespread and affected almost everyone in varying degrees. As he applied himself increasingly to helping his fellow actors it was not long before doctors started to send him their patients and in the end these people outnumbered his pupils from the arts seeking to improve their performance.
What is an Alexander Technique Lesson? During a typical Alexander Technique lesson, the teacher manually guides you through walking, sitting, standing or lying down, simple acts used to show how to find freedom in any activity. A lesson is one-on-one, 45 to 55 minutes long, and tailored to the individual's needs..