FM Alexander (1869-1955) was an Australian Shakespearean recitationist who developed vocal problems in performance. When it became clear that his doctors where unable to solve the problem or tell him what he was doing to cause the problem, he set out to discover the answer himself.
He knew that when he refrained from speaking for a period of time his voice would recover. Then when he began reciting again the laryngitis would reappear. Therefore he reasoned that he must be something that was causing the problem. If it was something he was doing, he should be able to speak without doing it.
To begin his investigation he set up a set of mirrors in order to observe himself in the act of speaking. Over time he discovered the pivotal act which when eliminated allowed his voice to remain strong. He then discovered that this act was linked to a cascade of other physical actions all contributing to or supporting the whole body pattern.
As Alexander continued his exploration and his own pattern changed, he began experiencing improvements in his health that were unexpected. After some years Alexander began sharing his discoveries with other professional speakers who also experienced improvements in health beyond the original goal of enhancing their performance. At this point his doctors advised him to go to London in order to gain a wider audience for his work. So in 1904 at the age of 35 he moved to London with letters of introduction from the Australian physicians.
What is now known as the Alexander Technique is a way of changing the whole body pattern in the way one stands, sits and moves. It leads to an easier balance and less muscular effort used in any activity. Physically, it begins with the way the head balances atop the spine. It is also concerned with how one responds to stimuli; with thinking and how we react to our thinking.
Over the course of his lifetime Alexander published 4 books describing his work. “Man’s Supreme Inheritance,” “Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual”, “The Use of the Self” and “Universal Constant in Living.”