Lyre Association of North America

Reflections on the 2017 Summer Lyre Intensive in East Troy, Wisconsin

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By Holly Richardson, Carbondale, CO

I had the great privilege of attending the Lyre Intensive this summer in East Troy, Wisconsin. This was my third LANA conference and it proved to be inspiring and challenging as well as fun.

Once again I was welcomed by all of the lovely lyre ladies who are wise, smart, and inspiring in so many ways. Many of them have been working together for many, many years. A highlight of my time was when Margo said to me in the kitchen, “I am so glad that you are one of us now!” I suppose that since I have made the effort to come to three conferences and since “All good things come in threes,” according to Hartmut Schiffer, my lyre patron, that I am officially a lyre lady as well.

The conference took place in a lovely building that felt like a contemporary barn with wonderful acoustics, plenty of space, air-conditioning, and places to walk where beautiful fruit trees and flowers grew. There was even a beautiful stained glass window of a rose in the large room where we gathered. In the farm house, just a stone’s throw from the barn, amazing meals were prepared for us by two more lovely ladies.

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Our teacher, Martin Tobiassen, was unlike any music teacher I have ever had. He encouraged us to play with strength and to touch the strings of the lyre in ways I had never considered. He also worked with us by teaching us songs by ear. After much practice in this way, we would eventually get sheet music. Being a music student who long, long ago learned to play first by reading music, I found Martin’s approach refreshing and challenging in a way that strengthened my ability to both listen and play.

My fingertips ached where they touched the strings due to the intensity and duration of our practice sessions during our days together. I had never played so much and with such strength before ever in my short lyre career! My aching fingertips inspired me to take a field trip with a few of my lyre friends to the Uriel pharmacy and buy a special cream for blisters and soreness! I also purchased some of Uriel’s Aurum Lavender Rose oil which Kerry Lee showed me how to apply around my heart for maximum benefit, morning and evening. I am happy to report that my fingertips are fine now and that my heart is also happy, thanks to all of my lyre playing, as well as the added element to my self-care regime inspired by Kerry Lee.

At the lyre conference, we learned about next summer’s international lyre conference. Martin said that he would be there and that perhaps those of us at East Troy could continue working on some of the music that we began together at the next conference. He also made the simple statement about how we only improve when we practice. So, I made a pledge to myself to practice regularly. I decided that if I practice regularly than I will earn the privilege of going to the international conference. Hartmut is in total support of my plan! I have been practicing, working on both Martin's "Tarantella", the Marylynn Wilson piece that is reminiscent of the theme from Close Encounters, The "Cattlefold of Kintaile" and more. I have been practicing regularly with Hartmut, who is my listener. I am also playing folk songs that Hartmut sang as a child in addition to some other seasonal songs.

The Carbondale Lyre Choir has just reconvened for the school year and I am hoping to bring some of my Colorado Lyre friends to the international conference so they can experience a real teacher! We hope to see you all next summer!