F M Alexander

Frederick Matthias Alexander, known always as FM, was an Australian. His first ambition was to be an actor and professional speaker but his career was threatened by the recurrence of throat and voice problems. The best medical advice failed to provide more than temporary respite, so he began a patient and meticulous investigation of his own. His observations were extraordinarily acute and in working his way to a means to prevent his own problems he made far-reaching discoveries about the use and function of the individual, which he gradually formulated into a technique.

People began to come to him for help, some referred by their doctors, some who heard of his reputation for improving perfomance in the arts—and he built up a teaching practice, first in Sydney, then from 1904 in London. He started the first training course for teachersin 1931. Alexander was well thought of by the medical profession and he was supported in his ideas by the first neurologist and foremost physiologist of the day, Sir Charles Sherrington. For a time, to have Alexander work was the height of fashion and he numbered among his pupils famous actors, sportsmen, writers—a prime minister and a winner of the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine.

The Alexander Technique has been taught for over 100 years and has gradually become more accessible to a greater sector of the population—though it still attracts a great number of high-profile performers. There are now fifteen training schools in Britain and many others throughout the world. Demand for the Alexander Technique increases as modern work patterns continue to place stress and strain on health.