Background on Alexander Technique
Alexander Technique is named after its creator, Frederick Matthias Alexander. F. M. Alexander developed this method of learning to solve his own problem of losing his voice while acting on stage. Nearly nine years of observing and experimenting led Alexander to discover that he could maintain his voice and even improve on its quality by following a specific training that mainly involved not responding to the stimulus of speaking until a new organization of himself was achieved. This new organization was not really "new" as we all have inherited what Alexander named "the Primary Control:" "Primary" because it is the main organization of the body, between the head, neck, and torso, and "Control" because it affects all actions including voice production as well as the relationship of the head and spine with the arms and legs.
Alexander started teaching his method in his home country in Australia. He soon became popular because of the numerous people he had helped. Then, Alexander moved to England, where his work was received with enthusiasm. Well-known scientists and performers sought Alexander and raved about his discovery. While based in England, Alexander visited and taught in the US. Alexander's students included the English novelist Aldous Huxley, Sir Charles Sherrington, Nobel Prize winner in physiology, George Bernard Shaw, the American philosopher and educational pioneer John Dewey, and many more. Believers in the technique insisted on Alexander to train teachers, so that his work remains alive. Luckily for us, he finally opened a training school, trained teachers with the assistance of his brother A.R., and continued teaching until the age of 86, when he passed away.
The significance of Alexander's work may not be possible to capture in words, like many life-altering experiences. In learning Alexander Technique, each one of us will have a unique experience. However, in general, the work does provide a process that can be applied in daily activities, thus it is not limited to the time of the session. By taking Alexander Technique lessons, you will rediscover the existence of your own Primary Control, which will make your movement more graceful, fluent, effortless, and enjoyable.
If you are suffering from any problem that is due to your habits rather than structure, then Alexander Technique might be the solution. For example, Alexander Technique cannot cure spinal injuries (structure), but it can help students move efficiently, with more freedom and less compression. This change in use allows for less pain in the injured spine. For many learners, Alexander Technique is continually changing the quality of their lives, as evident in various articles and books on the technique. For a comprehensive reading list, you may check the AmSAT bookstore. Additionally, you can visit the Complete Guide to the Alexander Technique at alexandertechnique.com - one of the main online resources for AT.
1869 - 1955
I lie on the floor with a book under my head, my knees up and my feet flat on the floor,
very, very quiet for about half an hour. If I do that then I always go on stage feeling good.
It is one of the reasons I am not terribly keen on having people visiting me before the show,
I like that period of absolute quiet to get completely relaxed. Then when I go on stage I am going
to be much funnier if I’m relaxed than if I’m still a bit wound up.
John Cleese, Comedian
Excerpt from the Daily Telegraph about his pre-show routine.