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HISTORY OF THE ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE
F.M. Alexander was born in 1869 in Tasmania off the southern coast of Australia. As a young man Alexander had a promising career as a Shakespearian actor. However, problems with chronic hoarseness plagued him from early on. Not able to find lasting relief from treatments offered him by his doctors, Alexander turned to himself for answers. After many years of self observation Alexander discovered that what he originally thought to be a problem with incorrect use of his voice was in fact a much larger pattern of muscle tension and mal coordination throughout his entire body, caused by interference with the natural balance between his head and neck. Ultimately, the solution to his vocal problems lay in his ability to learn to recognize and stop his habitual interference with his head and neck when he went to speak. Years of patience and persistence allowed Alexander to develop a process of stopping his habits that caused his vocal trouble.
After seeing that he had solved his own voice problems, other people began to seek Alexanderís advice. He started to take on students and teach them what he had learned from his years of self observation. He found that how people moved and used their bodies had a direct effect not only on their vocal health but on how they functioned in general. Gradually he developed a technique that incorporated gentle hands-on guidance and verbal instruction to teach people to recognize and stop inefficient and harmful habits and establish a more coordinated use of themselves. Alexander devoted the rest of his life to developing and refining this technique. In 1904 he moved to London at the urging of a group of doctors who thought his work deserved wider recognition.
Alexander spent the greater part of his life teaching his technique in London, attracting the attention of many in the medical profession as well as in the performing arts community. Alexander found that he was able to help many people with seemingly untreatable conditions simply by teaching them to change inefficient habits of how they moved and used their bodies and to release areas of unnecessary muscular tension that interfered with their natural poise and coordination.
During his later years Alexander began to train others to teach his technique. The first training course opened in the early 1930ís in London. Alexander was still teaching and training teachers when he died in 1955 at age 86. Today there are several thousand certified teachers worldwide. Most of them belong to one or more professional societies. AmSAT (the American Society for the Alexander Technique) is the largest professional association of certified Alexander Technique teachers in the United States.
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