Pieter van der Grinten, an Alexander Technique Teacher

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Frederick Matthias Alexander

Frederick Matthias Alexander

Frederick Matthias Alexander (1869 1955) was an Australian actor. His remarkable story began when, as a young man, Alexander saw his wish to master elocution and the art of reciting thwarted by trouble with his throat and vocal cords. When doctor's advice failed to cure his hoarseness and even occasional loss of voice, Alexander was left with no alternative but to find out for himself what was the cause of his problem. Over a long period he studied himself, using mirrors to observe what he was actually doing rather than what he felt he was doing when reciting. His persistent observations and reasoning finally resulted in a radical new technique for a better 'use' of himself. Consequently, with improved functioning, he regained full control of his voice.

From the mid 1890's he established himself as an actor and teacher of the technique, first in Australia, then the United Kingdom and the United States.

In 1910 he published his first book "Man's Supreme Inheritance" where he introduced the concept of 'conscious control' as well as a need for 'respiratory re-education' - a hallmark of his technique - which soon earned him the nickname 'the breathing man'.

Three more books were to follow: "Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual" (1923), "The Use of the Self" (1932) in which he recounts the evolution of his technique, and "The Universal Constant in Living" (1941).

In 1924 he established a school for young children, and in 1930 started his first 3 year course for training teachers which still is the benchmark for training courses to this day.

Alexander suffered a stroke in 1948 but continued teaching. After a brief illness he died in 1955.