By Holly Richardson, Carbondale, Colorado
My dear friend, Hartmut Schiffer, continues to encourage the work of the lyre in the little mountain town of Carbondale, CO on the western side of the Continental Divide. Hartmut and I regularly sing together, often German folk songs from his childhood, accompanied by the lyre. Sometimes Hartmut also plays the lyre. Besides playing the lovely Gartner soprano lyre that Hartmut purchased for me a few years ago, I often play the kinderlyre for him. The songs I play are very simple, and in the mood of the fifth, most often lullabies. He listens very intently as I play these meditative songs to him.
Speaking of lullabies, we recently held a Nap Fest for Exhausted Parents in Carbondale at the Helios Center for Nurturing Arts.
Five parents and teachers attended this first time event where we gathered for an afternoon retreat to nourish ourselves through music, movement, song, and a meditative form of resting called Yoga Nidra. A colleague I met in a Lifeways training, Asha Chabildas, led the Yoga Nidra portion of the event. I began the workshop with singing and movement by asking everyone to listen to their heartbeats and then to sing a song I learned by Mary Thienes Schunemann:
Listen to your heartbeat, Listen to its sound... It sings your life's song...Yes, it sing's your life's song!
Next we introduced the group to the children's lyre by giving one to each of the participants. Sitting up, we looked at the instrument and noticed its qualities. We counted the strings and played them. After a bit of streaming and improvising, I taught everyone a very simple lullaby by Wilma Ellersiek:
With the evening wind so mild, rocks my little flower child, flower child sleep tight....
Then I invited everyone to lie down on their backs on the floor and place the instruments on their torsos. We played the lullaby that way, as I had done when I would play for my young children in bed at night. One of our participants fell asleep which was perfect! Another mother who had never seen a children's lyre before very much wanted to get one to play with her anxious ten-year-old son. Hartmut purchased all of the children's lyres used for this event.
At the Waldorf School on the Roaring Fork last year, the second grade teacher, Alexander Marchand, introduced the children's lyre to his students. Mr. Schiffer purchased enough children's lyres so that every student could have one. Alexandar plans on bringing the children's lyres to his students on a regular basis and reported that his students were very excited to learn to play, many of whom had heard it in their kindergarten years at the school. We are also excited to see what unfolds...
There are but four of us who play the lyre semi-regularly together in Colorado. We very much want this work to grow here, but are, of course, challenged by busy lives and the Continental Divide that separates us.... Our wish is to gather monthly to play while we practice in between on our own. We envision having a Regional Spa Lyre Gathering here in the future where participants can come, work intensively together over a long weekend, while also enjoying the hot springs that Mother Nature has provided. Stay tuned for details of a future event that would help to plant more lyre seeds here in our community!