The Boy Who Gave Apollo His Lyre

Eliot (standing) with fellow students Ashriel (PA), Sophia (Vancouver), and teacher Monica Amstutz (NY) at Lyre 2019 in Kimberton, PA

By Margo Ketchum, Kimberton, Pennsylvania

For the past few years, LANA has been getting inquiries from parents wanting to help their young sons find a lyre! They say they’re reading books on Greek mythology and Apollo…. Could we direct them to where to find a lyre and a lyre teacher?

We helped one set of parents (who live an hour away) to surprise their son – 12-year-old Eliot Keener – with a gift of a rental lyre one Christmas. (We met the mom at the local Waldorf holiday craft fair to demo a modern lyre.) In answer to “What attracted him to the lyre?”, we heard about an adventure book series pointing young readers to the lyre!

I looked the series up on the internet, and got a “Quotable Quote” from

“Hermes smiled. "I knew a boy once ... oh, younger than you by far. A mere baby, really."

"One night, when this boy's mother wasn't watching, he sneaked out of their cave and stole some cattle that belonged to Apollo."

"Did he get blasted to tiny pieces?" I asked.

"Hmm ... no. Actually, everything turned out quite well. To make up for his theft, the boy gave Apollo an instrument he'd invented – a lyre. Apollo was so enchanted with the music that he forgot all about being angry."

"So what's the moral?"

"The moral?" Hermes asked. "Goodness, you act like it's a fable. It's a true story. Does truth have a moral?"

"Um ..."

"How about this: stealing is not always bad?"

"I don't think my mom would like that moral."

"I've got it," Hermes said. "Young people don't always do what they're told, but if they can pull it off and do something wonderful, sometimes they escape punishment. How's that?”

―Rick Riordan, The Sea of Monsters

I soon learned that Eliot was a natural musician, so I suggested to the parents that they bring him to me for lessons, and thereafter we began meeting every other week for the next year, his parents faithfully driving him. We had fun playing some of our favorite tunes on our lyres, such as (Eliot’s) “Princess Zelda’s Theme,” by Koji Kondo, and (my favorite) “Tarantella Graziella,” by Martin Tobiassen.

Eliot has since joined our local Lyre Ensemble, followed by another boy, Ashriel (see photo above), one of Kerry’s students. Now we have two young players as regulars in the area!

One of our ensemble members commented: “Having two teenagers join our group of older women has been a very positive experience. They both feel free to make suggestions and have become integral members of our small group. Since we don’t use amplifiers, it’s great to have two more lyre players to boost our sound. It’s also very encouraging for the future of lyre playing in the US.” (Jean Flood)

Together we accompany the annual Advent Gardens and Waldorf Rose Ceremonies and participate in regional workshops.

Eliot (middle) with the youth group in Zeist.

Eliot (middle) with the youth group in Zeist.

Eliot even came to the International Conference in Zeist this past summer! What a fun group!

Eliot adds: I think what I have experienced the most since I started playing is a constant potential for growth. There is always a new piece of music, new people to meet, or new environments that I have been exposed to simply because of the lyre. I have never been more satisfied with my decision of an instrument than the lyre.