Evolution of the Technique

“We can throw away the habit of a lifetime in a few minutes if we use our brains.” — FM Alexander

Alexander’s vocal problem was the catalyst that led to his discoveries. He passionately wanted to give recitations in public but his body let him down.

He went to doctors and voice trainers for help, but their help was not permanent. He was offered an important engagement but was afraid to accept it in case his voice would fail and ruin the performance. His doctor advised him to continue medical treatment and rest his voice for two weeks before the performance, so he decided to accept the engagement.

By following this advice, he gradually lost his hoarseness; but, during the performance, it returned and by the end of the program he could hardly speak. 

Faced with the failure of his doctor's treatment, Alexander wondered if his vocal problem might be caused by something he was doing while reciting and decided to experiment on his own to see if he could find out why he kept losing his voice.

Using mirrors, Alexander observed the way he spoke when giving recitations. He discovered that pulling back his head, depressing his larynx and sucking in air were all contributing to his vocal problem. But which came first, or were they all part of one movement? When he observed himself again in ordinary speaking he saw that the same three tendencies were present, although in a lesser degree. This observation encouraged him to continue to experiment.

On discovering these causal factors he thought he could simply interrupt them to solve the problem. Not so. Habits are strong. He had to learn HOW to interrupt the action. How to stop doing what was interfering with his natural design. This critical moment allowed the possibility to make a change. Once he paused Alexander could direct himself in a new way.

Eventually his experiments led him to develop what we know as the Alexander Technique. He spent his lifetime teaching and refining his technique.

The Alexander Technique can be helpful in all walks of life. You may want to read more on how the Alexander Technique is applied to your field of interest or search for interesting writings or films.