FM Alexander & the Legacy of his Technique
Photo © Society of Teachers of Alexander Technique
Frederick Matthias Alexander was born in Wynyard, Tasmania in 1869 and died in London in 1955 at the age of 86.
He taught right up until the last few weeks of his life. He had travelled to London in 1904 where he continued to develop
the work he had begun on vocal and respiratory re-education. Alexander it is believed, trained his mother, sister Amy,
and his brother Albert Redden Alexander in his method. He and AR as he was known, referred to it as "The Work".
AR worked for many years in the US where he trained a number of teachers, including Frank Pierce Jones author of
a number of fine books on the Technique.
Later it came to be known as the Alexander Technique. By that point it had probably gone way beyond being a technique
for vocal and respiratory re-education. FM as he was known, began to train teachers in the early 1930s when he was already
in his 60s. Walter Carrington (1915-2006) and Marjorie Barlow (1915-2007) also Elizabeth Walker, who died in 2013
were probably the last of the "first generation" teachers. But the work continues - by people trained by first
generation and by other teachers.
Inevitably, there are a great variety of ways of conveying and teaching the soundly based principles at the heart of the Alexander
Technique. Alexander was a genius who left a legacy that continues to be of great benefit to mankind. The titles of his 4 books:
"Man's Supreme Inheritance"
"Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual"
"The Use of the Self"
"The Universal Constant in Living"
give us some insight into the nature of the work that endows the individual who learns to consistently put this Technique
into operation, freedom from restrictive habit and ongoing improvement. In fact misuse as Alexander called it, is a common
cause of much degeneration and needless suffering. We all deteriorate through the natural aging process,
but misuse accelerates it. We become gradually less mobile and less adaptive to changing circumstance because
we literally "fix" ourselves into this state.
This need not be so. We can learn to go through life without fixing. Our mind and our attitudes can become more open.
For me, Alexander Technique is a lot about opening up - stopping holding on so tightly, in order that we can truly be more alive.
"Mens sana in corpore sano"
Good use, and conscious control (with freedom from what Alexander termed reactivity) bring greater peace of mind.
Providing the best state for a healthy body (leaving aside disease or medical conditions, which can afflict anyone). There is no
division of body and mind. The recognition and demonstration of this fact FM Alexander made so clear. There is so much
to gain from the Alexander Technique - but the process is often not easy.
© Christine Rapley 2017