Who was F. M. Alexander?
Frederick Mathias Alexander (born in Tasmania, 1869; died in London, 1955) was an Australian actor. He encountered problems with hoarseness of voice when reciting Shakespeare on stage, performances which often left him not being able to speak afterwards, while friends noted an audible gasping or sucking in of air during his recitations. Suggestions from doctors and voice coaches made no improvement which led him to a lengthy process of experiments and investigations under self observation in front of mirrors while reciting, with help and feedback from friends. F.M. became aware of three particular physical movements that he was making in order to speak: pulling his head back, depressing his larynx and sucking in breathe. With further investigation he came to see that it was in pulling his head back that initiated the other muscular movements, which then in turn caused the respiratory and vocal problems as these functions were then interfered with.
F.M. Alexander then worked on a process to see how he might go about preventing the muscular patterns that he had learned so far, and set up an alternative means whereby he could prepare himself for reciting, by setting up an environment whereby the mechanisms in him functioned well.
His successful research and work on himself, which evolved over a period of years, is the basis for what we know as the Alexander Technique today; F.M. then continued his work in Melborne, Australia, advertising his voice lessons, and on his move to London, in 1904, offering lessons in his "Respiratory method"; subsequently, through doctor's recommendations people came to him for help with varied physical problems and ailments, with good results.
This technique concerns one's whole psychophysical being, named as such because during his exploration and creation of the technique F.M.'s findings proved that the mental and physical are inextricably linked.