Nobel prize speech by Nikolaas Tinbergen

Frederick Matthias Alexander ("FM") was born in Wynyard Tasmania in 1869. Wynyard is on the northwest coast of Tasmania. It's a windswept and remote place. I was there in 2009 for an Alexander Technique conference.  It's an unusual place today, with a quaint township and a very kind and friendly community. From age 17, FM worked at a nearby tin mine at a place called Mt Bischoff; his aspiration to get away from that place and never return. This he did and by the 1880's FM was known as a fine young  elocutionist and actor on the Melbourne, Sydney and Hobart stages. 

I was fortunate enough to get into the Theatre Royal in Hobart and I was able to tread the boards that Alexander had trod and have a look around one of Australia's oldest theatres. There's a photo on this web page. A really beautiful theatre. FM was all set for a glorious exit overseas to the US. Unfortunately for his aspirations, he developed a vocal problem that saw him hoarse and unable to get his voice up to the galleries. FM went to many medical specialists who offered a  range of -treatments that had mixed results.

Alexander decided to explore his problem throat for himself and he was able to cure his recurrent affliction. In the process of treating his throat, he made significant discoveries around the organisation human movement.

He observed that human response is not random to a stimulus. He noticed that people responded to stimuli through patterned responses that were predicatble. Over a number of years he took note that many of the patterned responses that people made were inefficient, pressured and discoordinate.

Alexander was so fascinated by this observation that he began to experiment with intervening and preventing poor movements. He found that by preventing a harmful organisation of movement, people were able to dramatically improve in their posture, health and well being.

Alexander wrote four books on his discoveries. They are Mans Supreme Inheritence, Conscious Constructive Control, The Use of the Self and The Universal Constant in Living.

In 1904 he moved from Australia to live in London. He was able to demonstrate to many hundreds of people the effectiveness of his technique and won many allies who supported him. One of his keen supporters, Sir Stafford Cripps is suggested to have implored Alexander to teach his knowledge and skills to people so that his technique would not be lost when he died. Alexander spent the next twenty five years teaching people from all over the world how they could teach his technique to others.

There has been a great deal of scientific enquiry into Alexander's technique. A Nobel prize winner, Professor Niklos Tinbergen, was so taken with Alexander's discovery that he made Alexander the subject of his Nobel prize acceptance speech. I have placed that video on this page for you to see.

Apart from Alexander's four books (that are all still in print) there have been hundreds of books written about the Alexander Technique. In 1988, Alexander was named one of the great 200 Australians.

Photos and a small video of Alexander taken in the 1930's-no sound.

FM Alexander     

 

 

 

  

                            Theatre Royal Hobart

FM Alexander circa 1890s