Frederick Matthias Alexander was an Australian, born in Wynyard, Tasmania, on 20th January, 1869. As a young man he travelled to Melbourne to have lessons in acting, elocution and violin. His ambition was to become an actor and a dramatic reciter. Unfortunately he found that during a performance he would lose his voice and, because doctors could give him no lasting help, he decided to do something about it himself.
As he didn’t normally lose his voice, he came to the conclusion that it must have been something he was doing to himself in performance that caused his problem. He watched himself carefully in mirrors to see if he could pinpoint the problem and what he found was that it was the misuse of his body that caused his voice to fade. He also realized that he misused himself in this particular way every time he spoke but it was under the pressure of stress and performance that his habits became more pronounced causing his voice to disappear.
As he worked on stopping the habits that were inhibiting him, he became quite a remarkable performer.
Medical doctors became interested in his work as they saw it beneficial for their own patients. Through the influence of physician and surgeon W. J. Stewart McKay, in 1904 F. M. Alexander moved to London to teach his technique.
In 1908 Dr. Alexander Leeper on a trip overseas was instructed to gather relevant information from other countries to help structure some sort of physical education in Victorian schools. Leeper met Alexander and decided that Alexander’s work was the answer. Unfortunately Leeper’s enthusiastic report was ignored.
Alexander built himself an enormous teaching practice and had many influential friends in London. During the First World War he spent half his time teaching in America. He never returned to Australia and it wasn’t until 1950 that Australia got its first Alexander Technique teacher.
Nikolaas Tinbergen, Aldous Huxley, George Bernard Shaw, Sir Stafford Cripps, Sir Colin Davis, Sir Paul McCartney, Maggie Smith, John Cleese, Jeremy Irons, Sting, Paul Newman, Kevin Kline, Robin Williams, Christopher Reeve and Roald Dahl are just a few of the famous people who have learnt the Alexander Technique.