The use of the self
Frederick Matthias Alexander, born in 1869 in Tasmania, was an Australian actor and reciter. Early into his career he started suffering from voice problems leading to a complete voice loss. Neither doctors nor voice therapists were able to cure these problems that threatened his entire existence as an actor.
In search of a solution to his vocal obstacles, Alexander started to rigorously observe his body movement and behavioral patterns when using his voice. He discovered serious disturbances in his neuromuscular coordination, respiration and, subsequently, the generation of the voice. The failure of his voice involved his entire organism, and in addition to physical causes, he discovered that psychological aspects also played a significant role.
Alexander developed a holistic technique that helped him overcome his vocal loss and get back to a healthy voice. He went on to establish a pedagogical method, known today as the Alexander Technique. His goal was to change bad habits leading to poor posture, tension and function restriction, and to improve postural tone and neuromuscular coordination. The title of his most influential book “The use of the self” is a perfect summary of his technique.
After moving to London in 1904, Alexander soon gained recognition within the theatre community. The Alexander Technique helped many famous actors and musicians to a more effortless, expressive and balanced performance and presence, on stage, as in real life.