By following his new procedures his vocal problems disappeared and he became much admired for his performances, notably his fine voice, breath control and stage presence. He also noticed to his surprise that his general health, which had always been troublesome, was greatly improved. People began to turn to him for help with their own difficulties and soon he was devoting his time entirely to teaching his new Technique to others.
In 1904 Alexander left Australia bound for London where he believed his work would achieve serious recognition, which indeed proved to be the case. Many of the great and good trod a path to his door and he was highly regarded as someone who had found a game changing approach to restoring natural and efficient functioning.
He reluctantly opened a training course for teachers in 1931, (he was concerned that no one else would understand his work sufficiently to teach it)) and in the years up to his death in London in 1955 a modest number of people were successfully trained to carry on the work. These were known as the first generation teachers and have been enormously important in the continuance of the Technique. Sadly now they have all passed away, Elizabeth Walker being the last in 2013 at the age of 99.
The Alexander Technique is taught worldwide but the UK remains the main nucleus of teachers (there are around 800 qualified members of STAT in the UK), and of teacher training.
Life and Discovery of F. M. Alexander
The Alexander Technique
*Photograph of F. M. Alexander © 2016, The Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique, London
F. M. Alexander
Frederick Matthias Alexander was born in Tasmania, Australia in 1869 and grew up in the uncompromising environment of a pioneering back country station. As a young man he moved to Melbourne and developed a keen interest in amateur dramatics, in particular the reciting of Shakespeare. A recurring loss of voice began to threaten his stage career. Medical advice was ineffective so Alexander decided to take matters into his own hands. He conjectured that it must be something he was doing while reciting that was causing the problem and set about finding what this was.
He spent painstaking months studying, with the use of mirrors, how he recited. From his first simple observations that he pulled his head back and down as he spoke, he came to see that this tension was part of a weave of habitual misuse being set in motion throughout his whole body from the moment he thought to do something. The misuse governed whatever he was doing and, being rooted in his subconscious, was impervious to change. It was the cause of his voice problem.
Alexander worked out what he must do to prevent this automatic reaction pattern within himself from happening at all. Freed finally from its tyranny, he was able to establish a consciously directed co-ordination of his body that influenced his every action for the better.