F. M. Alexander in his own words
and in the words of those how knew him
Published by: (Author) (USA)
230 x 156 mm.
Print-on demand online hardback, paperback editions from Blurb.
Quotations from Alexander's writings and from pupils writing about Alexander, but no clear organisation.
First published: 1 October 2011
Publisher's description
Authors biography:
Alexander Murray, born 1929. Spent war years (1939-1946) South Africa, evacuated September 1940. Two years in the RAF, between studies, Royal College of Music, and Paris Conservatoire (French Government Scholar). Return to London, principal flute Royal Opera until 1955 then principal, London Symphony, becoming Professor of Flute, Michigan State University, 1967. 1954 married Joan Elvin, successful dancer London Theatre scene. Both became Alexander Technique students with Charles Neil, one of Alexander's first trainees. He died 1958. Walter Carrington became their mentor, working with them until they left for the USA. Alex' reading and study of Alexander's books began 1955 with all four. Subsequently read and re-read them in the training course for teachers Urbana Illinois, STAT 1977. A Prof. of Flute at the University of Illinois that year following three years, Royal Dutch Conservatoire, the Hague. Retired Illinois 2003. Now devotes time fully to Alexander Technique.

Publisher's description for 2nd edition:
Using F.M. Alexander's own words and the remembrances of those who knew him best, Alexander's Way retraces Alexander's steps: from his earliest days as an actor and teacher of elocution and the Delsarte Method in 1890s Australia to the development of his own teaching and unique hands-on ability in London in the years before World War I. We follow the maturation of his method, observe his travels to the United States and the influential support of John Dewey, and witness - through the eyes of Marjory Barlow, Walter Carrington, Aldous Huxley, Margaret Naumburg, Irene Tasker, and many others - Alexander's remarkable skill in his final decades. An invitation to more deeply explore F. M. Alexander's fascinating history, Alexander's Way is a rich resource for all serious students of the Alexander Technique. Bibliography and index included.

Author Alexander D. Murray's study of the Alexander Technique began in 1955. He and his wife, Joan Murray, trained as teachers with Walter Carrington in the 1960s and were close with many first-generation teachers. Through their friendship with anthropologist Raymond Dart, they developed the Dart Procedures, an ongoing exploration of human developmental movement that has influenced Alexander teaching throughout the world. He and Joan have co-directed the Alexander Technique Center Urbana since 1977. Alex is professor emeritus of flute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and former principal flute of the London Symphony Orchestra. The National Flute Association honored him with the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award.

Review by Ruth Diamond.
In 2010 Alex Murray came across an advertisement on promoting the latest 'how to learn the Alexander Technique' book. He began to think about his own path to understanding the Technique and remembered Alexander's famous statement, 'Anybody can do what I do if they do what I did. But none of you want the discipline. Convinced of the importance of Alexander's own words and experiences, he decided to put together this anthology.

Murray has devoted over fifty years of his life to understanding the Alexander Technique. Besides running his own training program with his wife Joan, he has edited books on the Dart procedures and on John Dewey and F.M. Alexander, as well as articles on the Alexander Technique and flute playing, on Raymond Dart, and on the Dart procedures.

FM Alexander in his own words and in the words of those who knew him reflects Murray's disciplined process of learning as much as it explores the ideas and methods developed by Alexander. Murray describes this book as an anthology, but it is rather a loosely linked chain of ideas starting with Alexander's writings and including the writings of his students and trainees.

Although Murray makes occasional comments reflecting his own thoughts and insights, the bulk of the material is from original sources: Alexander's books and articles, the writings of people who influenced him, and those who studied with him. Murray offers this collection of valuable material to readers as a resource to take in slowly, in small bits, not all at one time.

The book is divided into six chapters followed by a postscript and a chronology, beginning in 1900 when Alexander was teaching the Delsarte System of 'Full Chest Breathing.' Within a few years Alexander was advertising his own methods of respiratory and vocal re-education.

The book traces the theories and practices that influenced Alexander at the beginning of his career, the evolution of his teaching methods, which developed along with his deepening understanding of inhibition, primary control, direction, and the breathing mechanisms.

Along the way we get glimpses of his more famous students describing Alexander's teaching at various stages in his career. The book details the methods and thinking behind hands on the back of the chair and the whispered 'ah.' It also provides descriptions of the Little School and the first training course.

There is a time line of Alexander's life and work at the end of the book, followed by a brief autobiographical sketch of Murray's life journey through the Technique.

The book, which is self-published, is loosely organized and formatted, and sometimes it is hard to distinguish original source material from Murray's comments. There is so much fascinating and valuable material in the book that I wish the layout were clearer and more consistent. Still, the value of the texts outweighs the frustration of the layout.

Murray states his wish for the reader to take the time to savor and inwardly digest this compendium of writings in small bites. I agree - I have found myself returning to the book again and again to read small sections and mull them over. As Murray quotes Alexander saying: 'It's all in the books.'

2015 © Ruth Diamond. Reproduced with permission.

This edition © Mouritz 2015. All rights reserved.