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.