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What is the Alexander Technique?

Alexander Technique is a unique approach to gaining conscious control of our thoughts and actions. Pretty much everything we do is habitually driven, in other words we are not always aware exactly what we are doing or thinking. This is only a problem when we want to change our circumstances and find that it’s not so easy. There is a solution.

Who is the Alexander Technique for?

The Alexander Technique is for anyone wishing to make a change in their circumstances. The Technique is most suited to people aged 18yrs and over.

Who can benefit?

People having difficulty advancing in a skill such as playing a musical instrument; anyone who may experience stiffness and tension such as back ache, aches and pains, repetitive injuries; some people may be struggling with feeling rather low and a bit down; others may be looking for postural improvement. The Technique can be of benefit to all.

Musicians. Pain, strain and injury can result from the demand of playing an instrument for long periods of time. By learning a change of approach to the way a person has to sit or stand to play their instrument is important. Maintaining this change applied to the technical difficulties that each string, wind or brass instrument presents can begin to solve some of the above problems.

Actors. The effect of poor posture on voice quality and breath control is a common problem for actors, singers, teachers and anyone giving presentations or anyone having to do a lot of talking throughout the day. The use of the voice is where the Alexander Technique began and the Technique has a good reputation for helping people regain an improved control of the use of themselves and the mechanisms involved in the production of the voice.

Horse and rider. Identifying some of the problems between horse and rider is often to do with the way a rider uses themselves which is related to balance, poise and posture.

Back sufferers. Neck, shoulder and back problems are very common complaints, no matter what a person’s occupation. Poor posture can often gives rise to these problems including joint, muscle and nerve pain. Over many years the Alexander Technique has helped countless numbers of people find a solution to these problems.

The result of research on the effectiveness of the Alexander Technique on chronic and recurrent back pain, was published in the British Medical Journal in August 2008. For further information please go to www.stat.org.uk

Mental distress and mental health issues. Distress and depression or anxiety can often be part of the problem of misuse. The Technique can help people to cope better with present events and to deal better with the past.

Who was FM Alexander?

F.M. Alexander was born in Australia (1869 – 1955) and at the age of 21 pursued a carrier as an actor. He became a successful solo artist who quite early on struggled with a voice problem that restricted his ability to continue to perform. So strong was his incentive to improve and restore the clarity and quality of his voice, that he knew he once had, that despite the failure of doctors and voice trainers to help him, he decided to investigate himself what the possible causes and effects could be.

John Dewey (American educationalist and philosopher) writes in the preface to FM Alexander’s book Man’s Supreme Inheritance that Alexander “demonstrated a new scientific principle with respect to the control of human behaviour as important as any principle that has ever been discovered in the domain of external nature”.

He discovered that opening his mouth to speak was not just a simple thing of his larynx working on its own. The vocal mechanisms worked in coordination with the use of himself as a whole including the way he thought. When he opened his mouth to speak he retracted his head on his neck, rounded his shoulders, arched his back and locked knees. His general postural balance he identified was not at its best, which he termed, “misuse” and had a debilitating effect on his voice and the way he functioned generally.

He regained good quality and control of his voice by solving the problem of habitual misuse. He was devoted to working with people interested in theatre and helping people solve the restrictions brought about by misuse.

F.M. Alexander was born in 1869 and died in 1955. He worked in New Zealand, Melbourne and Sydney and came to England in 1904 aged 31. He lived and worked in London and had a successful private practice all his life. During the Second World War he moved to USA and returned to England at the end of the war. He built strong contacts in the USA and returned regularly to teach. To this day his Technique continues to spread all over the world.