Movement for Musical Renewal Conference

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By Diane Barnes, Hillsdale, New York

The Music for Musical Renewal Conference this past summer was very special. Veronika Roemer brought us many valuable musical games and activities for all ages, and especially for working with children. She also brought many types of “instruments” with her from simple handmade sticks to children’s lyres and flutes, silks of many colors, and string instruments such as psalteries. The participants were engaged in various activities, one after the other. As an example, one group of volunteers played flutes intermittently, and the second group had colored silks that they ran with in between the times that the flutes played. This was tremendous fun, as well as being a good example of form and freedom. At other times, there were various levels of improvisation. These were wonderful to watch and learn from, as well as to occasionally take part in. There was so much more that cannot be described in this short report.

At other times in the day, participants met in chosen level lyre groups to practice, learn, and prepare something for an evening event. There was also a time for choral singing. It was a rich and rewarding experience for me, which I am very grateful for.

Musical Renewal Conference with Veronika Roemer, Continued

By Melanie Eberhard, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania

The 2019 Lyre Conference for Musical Renewal brought to my awareness new opportunities to expand and deepen my listening and observing skills, as well as creating opportunities for children and colleagues to do the same in a Camphill School setting.

I began with observing my own response to sound and continued with noticing children’s kinetic and vocal responses. Listening to vocalizations of non-verbal children, I ask myself if there is a tonal or rhythmic motive in the expression? Will I respond imitatively, or with the gist, or a transformation of the motive? Does this child recognize the response? My observations of eye contact, facial and bodily expressions, and sometimes continued vocal conversation says to me that we are creating rhetorical coherence and meaning together through our musical conversation.

Veronika encouraged replacing verbal instructions with a sound from which children cue their response. I am finding this is as much a challenge for adults as for children, especially when the response is to pause and listen.

The group improvisation games were simple, yet each contained a perfect balance of creative freedom and structure. I had previously considered elements of contrasting timbre, silence, increase and decrease of tempo or dynamics to be decorative touches, not central themes. The way Veronika helped us create form as a process of listening was a refreshing musical and social experience.

I am finding it is easy to slip back into comfortable habits, so I am writing this to remind myself to remain tuned to opportunities for listening and responding. Thank you, Veronika!