Lyre Association of North America

Review of the Van der Pals / Kirchner-Bockholt Tone Eurythmy Therapy Course, Chicago, IL, October 2016

By Debbie Barford, Chicago, IL

In addition to the local attendees, eurythmists, physicians and others, there were eurythmists and doctors who traveled from afar to attend this workshop.  The course began on a Friday evening and ran for 10 days.  I was privileged, as a lyrist with some training in anthroposophic music therapy, to be able to attend a couple of evenings and the weekends.

Jan Ranck, who traveled from Israel to give this course, introduced us to the musical elements by way of exercise groups developed by Lea van der Pals and Dr. Kirchner-Bockholt for various medical conditions.  We worked with a very sensitive pianist, practicing many basic musical intervals along with musical excerpts used for the exercises.  It gave me just a glimpse into the intense practice and stamina required to become and work as a eurythmist.  As a person with a chronic disease, and some physical limitations, it was surprising, given how taxing the work was, that it was also very nourishing, and the musical exercises made it possible to keep working longer than I thought could be possible.  As a musician, it was very wonderful to delve further into the eurythmy gestures of the intervals, working along with the elements of beat and rhythm.  At the end of each day I felt it might not be possible to return the next time, yet in the morning I awoke eagerly ready for the next day’s work.

We also had discussions with the eurythmists and doctors about the medical conditions covered in the day’s exercises.  This was also very interesting and helped to make the work more conscious.

The pianist, John Paul Pendowski, gave two solo recitals, and in another performance, Jan Ranck and Christina Beck gave eurythmy performances of Debussy and Arvo Part.

An unexpected outcome of the workshop made itself felt in my next choir rehearsal the Thursday evening after it ended.  I sing soprano, but usually am not able to sing above a high F on the top of the staff with ease.  At this rehearsal, we were given music with a lot of high G’s above the staff – and my voice just slid right up there without a glitch. 

The course will be repeated this summer in Pennsylvania, at Camphill Beaver Run.  I would highly recommend it to anyone with an interest.