Lyre Association of North America

August Weeks in Shenyang, China

by Channa Seidenberg, Philmont, NY

You may remember at last year’s International Lyre Conference in Detroit that we had Pan Kai as a participant from China, who was already well known to a number of people in Europe. I received an invitation from him to come and teach at a music course in China.

He had met and worked with Reinhild Brass, a well-known musician and teacher from Germany, and together they had a vision of creating a training model based on the “Freie Musik Schule”, which had its initiation in the 1970’s. Its aim was to have students travel to the teachers and gather their experiences through working alongside their mentors. Julius Knierim, Per Ahlbom, Christof-Andreas Lindenberg, Lothar Reubke, Jurgen Schriefer, and many others were involved in this initiative. This summer the “Freie Musik Schule China” was established.

That the format needed to be very different from the “original” is understandable, in that in China the students would have to travel to a center, and the teachers would have to come from abroad. Originally, the course would leave the student free to choose their own path, either in teaching in a Waldorf School, becoming a music therapist, working with music in community, or establishing a path toward performance, or a combination of all of these. The Chinese training is also aiming to guide a number of participants toward teaching music in Waldorf Schools but, in addition, to helping parents guide their children on their musical paths.

In our course we had 83 participants, approximately 35 who want to teach, and the remainder, parents of young children. The children were also there and had their own “music camp” with Veronika Roemer. As you can imagine, it was a lively and creative undertaking!

Reinhild Brass has developed an excellent method for learning how to listen. Her book, ”Horwege Entdecken” (Discovering Paths of Hearing) is being translated by Veronika. It is about to be published in Chinese, and will be rendered in Italian very soon.

Reinhild and singing group.jpg

Her work is underlying a new direction in the schooling in China, and rightly so, as public education in that part of the world is based very strongly in an intellectual direction, and inner listening is a fairly new concept. The lyre is, of course, an important instrument for this new direction. Everyone was guided on the kinderharp. We worked with gongs, iron rods, and many other instruments for sounding and improvisation.

I was asked to create a “lyre orchestra,” to prepare for an evening of sharing. Nine very gifted players gathered after supper to rehearse a number of pieces, which we played on the evening of sharing.

I had also been asked to lead singing and to begin a path to Uncovering the Voice. I could say much about the course but want to instead express my impression of the human connections I experienced.

So much needs to be acknowledged of the generosity and heart warmth I encountered. Everywhere there was the longing to connect, to learn, and to share. I am deeply grateful for having been able to get to know musicians from across the world who are also searching for the deeper experience in listening.