The final straw – Why have Alexander Technique lessons?

Last week I wrote about how we could all learn from FM Alexander’s childhood trait of being incorrigibly inquisitive. One thing I mentioned was that the trait that got him excused from school for being disruptive in class, was in adult life the key to him doing the work that led to his creation of what we now call the Alexander Technique.

But why did FM develop his work? What was it that caused him to use that questioning nature?

Most people, if they have heard of FM at all, will probably know that he was an actor, and that he suffered from vocal troubles so severe that they threatened his career. When conventional treatment didn’t work, he began exploring and experimenting to try to solve the problems for himself.

So far, so good. We have the facts. But there is something missing.


When FM wrote in 1932 about the creation of his work some 40 years previously, he began:


“From my early youth I took a delight in poetry and it was one of my chief pleasures to study the plays of Shakespeare, reading them aloud and endeavouring to interpret the characters.” *


For FM, acting and reciting wasn’t just a job. In fact, he gave up a well-paid and promising clerking career to tread the boards. Acting was his love.

And when his vocal troubles became severe, how did FM feel?

“My disappointment was greater than I can express, for it now seemed … that I should thus be forced to give up a career in which I had become deeply interested and believed I could be successful.” **

FM had a passion for acting, and his passion was threatened. That’s why he worked so hard, I think, to find a solution to his problems.

And it should strike a chord with us, because so often this is the reason why we become interested in Alexander’s work. I was prepared to put up with pain in my wrists, until I couldn’t knit or cook any more. One of my students put up with her difficulties – until it stopped her swimming.

Typically, we will put up with discomfort and things that block us from performing at our best, we will keep going in the face of limitation, we will soldier on… until our passion is threatened.

What is the one thing that you are not prepared to give up? At what point will you stop accepting limitations, and decide to begin the process of change and renewal?

* FM Alexander, The Use of the Self in the Irdeat Complete Edition, p.411.
** ibid., p.412.
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