COMPANION

Biography

Misha Magidov Misha Magidov (1929–2019) Israeli teacher and and Head of Training. Life Misha Magidov was born in a small village in Palestine. At the age of 14 he joined a kibbutz (Gevah, in the Israel Valley) and later joined the Israel Army where he rose to the rank of Captain. He started having lessons in the Technique with Schmuel Nelken. Misha moved with his family to London in 1961 in order to join Patrick Macdonald’s training course. Upon qualifying as a teacher of the Technique Misha taught for some years in Israel, moved to London again in 1973, and then back to...
Dr Mungo Douglas, Scottish doctor, who was an ardent supporter of Alexander and the Technique. Life He became a doctor in 1921 and practised in Bolton for most of his life. He became a pupil of Alexander’s in about 1928 or 1929. His wife, Sydney, also had lessons and they became friends of Alexander’s.[1] Writings Douglas wrote more than 17 letters in support of the Technique - published mainly in medical journals - and two published articles: ‘Re-Orientation of the View Point Upon the Study of Anatomy’ and ‘A Unique Example of Operational...
Nikolaas ‘Niko’ Tinbergen (1907–1988) was a Dutch biologist, ornithologist, Nobel Prize winner, and pupil of the Alexander Technique. Life Tinbergen studied biology at Leiden University and received a Ph.D. degree in 1932. During World War II he was a prisoner of war. After the war he moved to England, where he taught at the University of Oxford (1949–74). Here he helped to organise its research department of animal behaviour. With Konrad Lorenz and Karl von Frisch, Tinbergen is credited with being one of the founders of modern ethology. Their emphasis was on...
Norwood Edward Coaker (1892–1980) South African lawyer and pupil of Irene Tasker. Life Norwood Coaker obtained an MA in languages (the University of South Africa), a mixed degree of the University of South Africa (the University of the Cape) and amongst his subjects he studied mathematics and botany; he then obtained a Transvaal Second Class Teacher’s Certificate, and taught for six years in Secondary Schools in South Africa, before he became a barrister (LLB of the University of South Africa, and a King’s Counsel).[1] He was married to Vera Louise Coaker (neé...
Philip Boswood Ballard (1865–1950), Scottish headmaster, author and Inspector of Schools, and pupil of F. M. Alexander. Life Philip Boswood Ballard (1865–1950), British Inspector of Schools, Doctor of Literature and author. Boswood was Headmaster of Pupil Teachers’ School, Tondu, Glamorgan, 1898–1903, before he became an Inspector of Schools: in Glamorgan 1903–05, and then with the London County Council 1906–30. He was twice president of the Association of Inspectors and Educational Organizers, was a member of the Child Guidance Council, and president...
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...
Paul Collins (1926-1995), British violinist, runner, Alexander Technique teacher, and Head of Training. Life Paul Collins was born in London and raised in Canada. He was educated at Acadia University, but being a a violin prodigy from an early age, he attended the Julliard Graduate School, and Yale music school. He returned to London where he studied with Professor Max Rostal at the Guildhall School of Music, London, and joined the New Music Ensemble. From the age of 14 he also pursued a career as a long-distance runner. He was Canadian marathon champion three times, 1949–52, and...
Peggy Williams (1916-2003), British teacher of the Alexander Technique. Life Peggy Williams, born Goldstone, in Manchester. In 1938 she married Louis Nixon and moved to London. She started having lessons with F. M. Alexander and started his teachers’ training course in September 1947. She graduated in February 1955, and she stayed on to assist on the training course, assisting other teachers after Alexander’s death in October 1955. She continued to assist Walter Carrington when the training course moved to 18 Lansdowne Road in 1960 and it continued as the Constructive...
Percy Hugh Boomer (1885-1949), golfer and pupil of F. M. Alexander. Life Percy Boomer and his brother Aubrey Boomer (b.1897) were professional British golfers and won several championships in the 1920s. According to Wikipedia: ‘Boomer was one of the top teachers of golf in Europe and spent the majority of his professional career at St. Cloud Country Club in the Paris suburbs. He was a proponent of muscle memory in the golf swing and reminded his students to block out negative thoughts in favor of more positive ones in order to play better golf.’ Writings Percy Boomer...
Peter Macdonald (1870–1960), surgeon and eye specialist, a pupil of F. M. Alexander, who wrote several articles on the Alexander Technique for the medical profession. Life Peter Macdonald was born in Scotland and was a Scottish surgeon and eye specialist. He settled in York where in 1904 he became medical officer to Rowntree & Co – one of the first companies to establish such a post for their workers. He later married Joseph Rowntree’s daughter, Agnes Julia. He was an experienced eye, ear, nose and throat surgeon and wrote many medical papers on these subjects. He...
Peter Scott (1918-1978), British teacher of the Alexander Technique. Life Peter Scott went to Stockport Grammar School, Cheshire, where he gained a scholarship to Magdalen College, Oxford. As a child he developed a lifelong passion for music in general and the piano in particular. He studied piano under Edward Isaacs and continued his musical studies with James Ching. In 1936, just before going up to Oxford to read Law, he came across the Alexander Technique in Aldous Huxley’s writings; he then bought and read all of Alexander’s books, and went to an interview with...
Dr Robert Henry Scanes Spicer (1856–1925), doctor and specialist of the throat, and a pupil of Alexander. Life Dr Robert Henry Scanes Spicer (sometimes referred to as Scanes-Spicer) gained his M.D. in 1885. He studied in throat clinics in Vienna, Berlin, and Paris, and was one of the founding members of the Laryngological Society of London. In 1888 he became a throat surgeon at St. Mary’s Hospital, London, and in 1908 became a consulting surgeon. Inspired by Alexander he gave a number of papers and presentations between 1909 and 1910 with a focus on respiration. His last...
Rachel Zahn (1943-2017), US teacher of the Alexander Technique who promoted Francisco Varela’s approach of how mental experience could be studied scientifically. Education Rachel Zahn first received theatre training at the University of Maryland and Catholic University. She received a study grant from the American Conservatory Theatre and trained as a teacher of the Alexander Technique from the American Center for the Alexander Technique (ACAT) 1966–69. During the 1970s, she studied with Moshe Feldenkrais, Charlotte Selver, and Elaine Summers. She became an assistant to...
Ray Evans (1929-2005), British teacher of the Alexander Technique. Life Ray Evans worked in the Royal Navy as an engineering officer. He went on to work for Vickers and the Atomic Energy Authority. While lecturing in engineering design at Aylesbury College he became a yoga teacher. Through contacts with other yoga teachers he got to know of the Alexander Technique, and he then trained at the Constructive Teaching Centre 1977–80. Ray Evans worked at a number of Alexander teacher training courses before he started his own teachers training course, the Re-Education Centre in 1987...
Raymond Arthur Dart (1893–1988), Australian-born anatomist and anthropologist. He was the originator of what is now known as the Dart procedures. Life Dart, Raymond Arthur (1893–1988) was an Australian-born South African anatomist and anthropologist. He graduated in medicine at Sydney in 1917, and became Professor of Anatomy in Johannesburg in 1923. He achieved international fame as an anthropologist with his discovery of a branch of the human family, Australopithecus africanus, in 1925. It was the first early human fossil found in Africa, and it helped to shift the focus to...
Richard (‘Buzz’) Mott Gummere Jr. (1912–2007), US trained teacher of the Alexander Technique. Life Gummere served as Director of Admissions at Bard College and taught at Columbia University Teachers College. At the age of 28 he felt ‘vague but deep misery, but mental and physical’.[1] He had interviews with psychiatrists who concluded that there was nothing wrong. His mother made him go see A. R. Alexander. He trained as a teacher of the Technique, primarily with A. R. Alexander in Boston, and was certified by F. M. Alexander in 1944. While he never...
Richard (‘Dick’) Walker (1911–1992), UK teacher of the Alexander Technique and Head of Training. Life Richard Walker read philosophy at Oxford and was especially interested in Eastern spiritual thought. He was a keen and successful amateur golf player. He had won the Northen Open twice and had been highly placed in the German Open when he read UoS in 1936 and consequently went to F. M. Alexander for lessons. He met Elisabeth, in 1937, and she also started having lessons. They both started on Alexander’s teachers training course in 1938 and married the same year....
Robert Dudley Best (1892-1984), British businessman and pupil of F. M. Alexander. Life Best inherited his family brass founder business, Best & Lloyd, known for their lamps and chandeliers (they invented the ‘Surprise’ pendant in 1893 which was the forerunner of today’s angle-poise lamp). Best wrote a biography of his father, R. H. Best (1843-1925), who was one of the founders of the business.[1] Connection with Alexander Suffering from neck spasms R. D. Best started having lessons in 1929 and became a keen supporter of the Technique. He encouraged teachers...
Friedrich Robert Donat (1905–58), English actor and a pupil of F. M. Alexander. Donat made his first stage appearance in 1921, at the age of 16. From 1930 Robert Donat acted in London’s West End Theatres where he also worked briefly as a manager. He is known for several leading film roles, among them The Thirty-Nine Steps (1935), Goodbye Mr Chips (1939) and The Citadel (1938) in which he played an idealistic doctor who comes to Harley Street from a mining village in Wales. Donat’s health was delicate all his life and and he suffered occasional depressions. 1946 was a...
Ron George Brown (1911–55), British journalist, editor and pupil of F. M. Alexander. Ron Brown wrote a summary of F. M. Alexander’s four books. Life Ron Brown worked for Reuters, the Times diary, the Evening Standard ‘Londoner’s Diary’ and Associated Press. He also worked for the embryo United Nations in 1944. He was a heavy smoker and developed lung cancer, as well as T.B. Owing perhaps to a mild case of polio in his childhood he had impaired back and leg muscles which affected his walk and he later on he developed muscular dystrophy of the legs. He...

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