COMPANION

Patrick Macdonald

Patrick (‘Pat’) John Macdonald (1910-1991), prominent British teacher of the Alexander Technique.

Life

Patrick Macdonald was born in York in 1910, the son of Peter Macdonald and Agnes Julia Rowntree. Peter Macdonald was an outspoken supporter of Alexander who had lessons in the Technique for many years. Patrick Macdonald began to receive lessons from F. M. Alexander and his brother A. R. (Albert Redden) at the age of 10, because of growing problems related to a congenital curvature of his spine. He continued to have lessons throughout his adolescent years. After graduating from Cambridge in history, he entered Alexander’s training course at 16, Ashley Place in 1932. He qualified as a teacher in the Technique in 1935.

In 1937 he married Alice Dundas. They moved to Birmingham in 1938 where he built up a teaching practice while continuing to visit Ashley Place. In 1940 he joined the R. A. F. After the war he taught in Cardiff and London. He left Ashley Place in 1948 or 49. In 1952 he married Alison Morris. They moved to Brighton and in 1961 settled near Lewes.

After Alexander’s death in 1955 Macdonald took over the practice at 16, Ashley Place, in April 1956, at Beaumont Alexander’s request. He started a teacher’s training course in 1957 (the Alexander Foundation) which ran at Ashley Place until the lease expired in 1969. Peter Scott took over the training course while Macdonald considered moving to the US.[1] However, this never materialised and Macdonald started a new training course in Belgrave Road, Pimlico. He ran this until 1987 when ill-health restricted his teaching. (His training course in Pimlico was continued by Shoshana Kaminitz.) He then trained a few people at his home in Swanborough near Lewes 1987–1991.[2] [3]

Writings

Patrick Macdonald wrote a number of letters on the Technique to journals and newspapers.

  • ‘Physical Education’ in British Medical Journal, 27 June 1936.[4]
  • ‘Conditioned reflexes’ in The Literary Guide, May 1947.[5]
  • A letter in Liberal News, 23 July 1954.[6]

In 1963 he gave the F. M. Alexander Annual Memorial Lecture, ‘Giving Directions, Doing and Non-Doing.’ (Published as a booklet and in The Alexander Journal.[7]) The article ‘Psycho-physical Integrity’ was published in The Alexander Journal.[8]

These plus notes for an unfinished manuscript were published in 1989 as The Alexander Technique As I See It. A revised edition published in 2015 also contains interviews with Macdonald.[9]

Descriptions

  • Yehuda Kuperman presented ‘The work of Patrick Macdonald’ at the 1991 3rd International Congress, Engelberg.[10]
  • An interview with Ted McNamara on Patrick Macdonald was published in The Alexander Journal (2010),[11] on McNamara’s lessons and training with Macdonald. A second interview was published in STATNews (2011), on how Macdonald’s early training as a boxer influenced his style of teaching.[12]
  • ‘A visit to Patrick Macdonald, June 1989’ by Alexander Farkas is a description of a lesson with Macdonald.[13]
  • ‘Patrick Macdonald: An appreciation’ by Selma Gokcen is an appreciation of Macdonald’s teaching.[14]

Videos

A number videos of Macdonald teaching are available on youtube.com.

  • ‘Patrick Macdonald, 1987, at work in Lewes, Sussex, UK’ by Freddie Strasser.[15]

Influence

Macdonald’s distinctive style of teaching was followed by many of his students who in turn ran, or are running, teachers' training courses. His influence is especially prominent in Israel.

Obituaries and remembrances

  • ‘Visionary hands’ by Adrian Morris with addition by Misha Magidov.[16]
  • ‘Obituary’ by Shoshana Kaminitz.[17]
  • ‘Patrick Macdonald’ by Shoshana Kaminitz.[18]
  • ‘Patrick Macdonald’ by Yehuda Kuperman, Shmuel Nelken and Nelly Ben-Or.[19]
  • ‘Goodbye Mr Macdonald’ by Yehuda Kuperman.[20]

Patrick John Macdonald *6 March 1910 – †23 November 1991.

References

[1] ‘An impression of the early days, post-FM’ by William Morton in STATNews vol. 9, no. 5 edited by Jamie McDowell (STAT, September 2016), pp. 26, 35.
[2] Obituary by Shoshana Kaminitz, NASTAT News, Winter 1992 no. 14, pp. 5-6.
[3] Obituary by Shoshana Kaminitz, STATNews, January 1992, vol. 4 no. 2, p. 9.
[4] Also in A Means To An End – Articles and Letters on the Alexander Technique 1909–1955 edited by Jean M. O. Fischer (Mouritz, 2015), pp. 215-16.
[5] Also in A Means To An End – Articles and Letters on the Alexander Technique 1909–1955 edited by Jean M. O. Fischer (Mouritz, 2015), pp. 216-17.
[6] Also in A Means To An End – Articles and Letters on the Alexander Technique 1909–1955 edited by Jean M. O. Fischer (Mouritz, 2015), pp. 217-18.
[7] ‘Giving Directions, Doing and Non-Doing’ by Patrick Macdonald in The Alexander Journal No. 9 edited by Adam Nott, 1988. pp. 4-11.
[8] ‘Psycho-physical Integrity’ by Patrick Macdonald in The Alexander Journal No. 1, edited by Edward H. Owen, 1962, pp. 7-9.
[9] The Alexander Technique As I See It by Patrick Macdonald (Mouritz, 2015).
[10] ‘The work of Patrick Macdonald’ by Yehuda Kuperman in The Congress Papers 1991, A Spirit of Learning Together edited by Jeremy Chance (Direction, 1992), pp. 31–37.
[11] ‘Patrick Macdonald – The final years’ by Ted McNamara and Selma Gokcen in The Alexander Journal 23 (STAT, 2010), pp. 49-56.
[12] ‘Personally speaking: The shaping of a technique’ by Ted McNamara and Selma Gokcen in STATNews vol. 7, no. 5 edited by Ann James (STAT, May 2011), pp. 22–23.
[13] ‘A visit to Patrick Macdonald, June 1989’ by Alexander Farkas in The Alexander Review vol. 4, no. 1 (Centerline Press, 1990), pp. 160–65.
[14] ‘Patrick Macdonald: An appreciation’ by Selma Gokcen in STATNews vol. 10, no. 5 edited by Jamie McDowell (STAT, May 2020), pp. 22–24.
[16] ‘Visionary hands’ by Adrian Morris with addition by Misha Magidov in The Guardian, 10 January 1992.
[17] ‘Obituary’ by Shoshana Kaminitz, NASTAT News, Winter 1992 no. 14, pp. 5-6.
[18] ‘Patrick Macdonald’ by Shoshana Kaminitz in The Alexander Journal no. 12 edited by Adam Nott (STAT, 1992), pp. 40–43.
[19] ‘Patrick Macdonald’ by Yehuda Kuperman, Shmuel Nelken and Nelly Ben-Or in NASTAT News (Winter 1992), no. 14, p. 6.
[20] ‘Goodbye Mr Macdonald’ by Yehuda Kuperman in Direction vol. 1, no. 9, p. 2 insert.