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Alexander Technique Steven Hallmark

stevenghallmark@gmail.com - 0725413624 - Stockholm T-Fridhemsplan

History and further reading

Frederik Mathias Alexander (1869-1955) was a well-known actor and reciter who developed a vocal hoarseness that was threatening his career. The cures and solutions offered did not work. 

 Eventually, it occurred to him that perhaps it was something that he was doing to himself that was causing his problem. On observing himself in a mirror he found that his way of breathing and speaking was clearly faulty, but that his faulty way of speaking had been entirely unconscious until he could see it in the mirror. His task was to find a way to prevent his normal way of speaking, and then to find a new way which would necessarily be unfamiliar at first. Once he had gained familiarity with it, he found he could speak at will without the hoarseness. This became known as “Alexander’s Technique”. It is described fully in one of his four books “The Use of the Self”. He became known in Australia for his command of breathing and vocal production and was asked to teach by his fellow actors. He began to teach in 1895. An unforeseen by-product of his technique was an improvement in his general health.

As his technique became known, he was asked by Doctors to work with tuberculosis patients, among others. He emigrated to England in 1904 with letters of recommendation from several Doctors in Sydney. He was introduced to a well-known ear, nose and throat specialist in London who sent his actor patients to him. He opened a training course for teachers in 1931.

In solving his own problem, he had hit upon the discovery of the primary importance of the poise of the head and its connection to the neck and back in acquiring optimal poise and working of all the internal organs and systems in the human being.   

The neck balances the weight of the head (about 4800 grams), moves the head during orientational behaviour, and protects the spinal cord and the vessels that pass through it. Another important task of the neck is to supply the central nervous system with proprioceptive information about the orientation of the head to the trunk 

Dr Mikael Karlberg from his pamphlet “The Neck and Human Balance”, a Clinical and Experimental Approach to “Cervical Vertigo” . University Hospital of Lund, Sweden   
Mr Alexander has done a service to the subject by insistently treating each act as involving the whole integrated individual, the whole psycho-physical man. To take a step is an affair not of this or that limb solely, but of the total neuromuscular activity of the moment - not least the head and neck

The Endeavour of Jean Fernel, Sir Charles Sherrington, Cambridge University Press, 1946

Links

 Books on the Alexander Technique: 
  • By F.M. Alexander: "Man's Supreme Inheritance"; "Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual"; "The Use of the Self"; "The Universal Constant in Living"; "Articles and Lectures" 
  • By Walter Carrington: "Thinking Aloud"; "The Act of Living"; "Explaining the Alexander Technique - A conversation between Walter Carrington and Sean Carey" 
These books can be obtained from Mouritz Press at www.mouritz.co.uk or on Amazon.