Frederick Matthias (F.M.) Alexander was the discoverer of the Alexander Technique. Born in 1869 in Tasmania, Alexander became an actor and made considerable effort to enhance his acting ability. However, he found that he suffered frequent vocal loss while performing and his work suffered as a result of this.
With medical advice failing him, Alexander began an extensive period of study. He noticed that while performing, he had developed excessive muscular tension which was restricting his voice and thus causing the problems with his ability to perform. With this self examination he was able to discover certain principles affecting mind/body coordination applicable to every kind of physical activity. He used these to cure his own vocal problems and to improve his general health.
Realising that his discoveries would be of benefit to others, Alexander developed a method to reduce the tensions and stresses of those who came to him for help. In 1894 he had a successful practice in Melbourne and later in Sydney. Encouraged by others, Alexander moved to London in 1904 where he was able to introduce his technique into the acting and medical professions. His methods proved popular and he soon had well known clients such as George Bernard Shaw, Sir Stafford Cripps, Aldous Huxley and Joseph Rowntree.
Before the 1930’s some of Alexander’s most interested pupils became his teaching assistants and then studied under him to become teachers but he did not give his first proper teaching course until 1931. He continued to teach these three year courses until his death.
Alexander regularly taught in the United States in the period before and during the World Wars but remained teaching in London until he died in 1955. He has left the Technique as his legacy which is practised all over the world by more than 2500 teachers.
In 1958 some of the graduates of his teacher training courses formed the Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique (STAT) to “preserve and continue the work according to the standards Alexander had created”.