Frederick Matthias Alexander was born in Tasmania, Australia in 1869. He left home at the age of sixteen looking for work, but his real passion was for the theatre. Moving to Melbourne three years later, he studied Shakespeare and other theatre and was soon giving public recitals of monologues, comic sketches and extracts from plays.
His recitals were popular, but he began to suffer more and more from hoarseness. His doctor advised him to rest his voice for a week or two. Sure enough after two weeks of not reciting his voice returned to normal. However, upon retaking the stage his hoarseness soon returned to such an extent that by the end of the performance he could barely speak.
Alexander came to the conclusion that it must be something he was doing when he recited that caused him to lose his voice as he was fine with normal speech. His doctor agreed with him but could not tell him what it was.
Alexander then set about to discover for himself what was preventing him following his chosen career. Through careful observation of himself in front of a mirror he made a number of important discoveries about what he was doing.
Principally he noticed an undue tension in the neck not only during speech but in preparation for speech. He saw how this interference had an impact on his whole self. He then set about developing a technique to overcome these difficulties.
It was this technique that he began teaching to others, with improvements not only in voice but in general functioning as a whole.
Alexander moved to London in 1904 where he taught pupils up until his death in 1955. In 1958 the Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique (STAT) was formed to ensure high standards of teacher training and professional practice.
There are currently over 2500 teaching members of STAT and its Affiliated Societies worldwide.