The Lyre - An Instrument For Our Time

The Lyre - An Instrument for Our Time

The lyre has been an important instrument since ancient times, in Persia, Egypt, Greece, and Italy. The modern lyre was first created in the 1920's, by Edmund Pracht and Lothar Gartner, after indications from Rudolf Steiner. It is a most unique and unusual instrument, because of its purity of tone, and harmonic potential. It is suitable for all ages to play, from young children to older people, and although it has specific techniques of playing, it is not a difficult instrument to master. It can be enjoyed at all levels of playing ability. Its tone gives a wonderful quality of healing and relaxation, whether it is played in a therapeutic, social or teaching setting.

With all these wonderful qualities, one may wonder why the lyre is not better known, and more widely played and heard. There are lyre builders all over the world, building beautiful instruments. The lyre is taught in some Waldorf schools in the U.K., Germany, the U.S., and Australia, but, like the recorder, it is used here as a pedagogical activity, and rightly so. It takes a very devoted and skilled teacher to encourage children to continue to play the lyre later on, in the same way that they would learn other orchestral instruments. There are also lyre players in Camphill communities, who play for therapies, or the Christian Community, but even here there is not usually much encouragement to play more widely (there are some notable exceptions!).

I have pondered the question of HOW to widen the playing and experience of the lyre, for many years, especially as, in my work as a freelance lyre player, I am greeted with delight by my listeners, most of whom have never seen a lyre before.

I have come to the conclusion that one vital way of spreading the word about the lyre is to create more lyre teachers, who can then go on to teach and inspire others. In my small area of work, I could probably do three times the amount of lyre work, if I had the time and energy! That would require 48 hour days!

There is an important distinction between lyre players or performers, and teachers. This occurs for any musical instrument. Of course the teacher needs a thorough mastery of the instrument first, but then learns the art of listening to their pupils, in a way that can encourage the full potential of each pupil. In this sense, every lesson is unique to that pupil. Teachers also learn the art of patience, empathy, and positivity. They can develop each pupil's ability, and guide them in specific ways, which are correct for them. They can devise special exercises, games and pieces, to help their pupil's progress in the best possible way.

With all my qualifications as a musician, teacher, director of lyre groups, lyre workshops and presentations all over the world, I feel confident in offering a course for teachers of the lyre, in the U.K. There will be some prerequisites of eligibility, but each applicant will be considered on their own merits.

The course will be a series of 10 weekends, over two years, and will cover all aspects of lyre playing and teaching. This will include a history of the lyre, texts concerning the Anthroposophical study of music, biographical work, and a study of the human being, with reference to the development of music. The study of suitable music for babies, young children, music in the Waldorf curriculum, adults, Special Needs players, lyre groups and solo work, music for older people, and lyre music for the dying, will all be covered. This work will be complemented by, and integrated with art, voice, and rhythm work.

For more details, please contact Anna at

Anna Prokhovnik Cooper, 24th March, 2014