Lyre Notes
Michaelmas 2015

LYRE 2015 in Detroit, Michigan

Pictures and Stories from the International Lyre Conference

Concert Opening

A Unique Gathering of Musicians

A tone garden, a river of renewal, a bud opening into a flower, a chalice to contain the light streaming toward us from the future. –A few images that were shared to characterize our conference. 

During the first week of August, 2015, a unique gathering of musicians took place in Detroit, Michigan. Amid the bustling campus of Wayne State University, lyre players from around the globe came together for the sixth International Lyre Conference. Hosted by the Lyre Association of North America, this meeting of lyrists from fourteen different countries was an opportunity for music-making and cultural exchange. Those in attendance spent time singing and playing, sharing ideas, and taking meals together. 

In recognition of the current world situation and the turmoil experienced by many people, our theme “Lyre as Instrument for Peace” set the mood for the event. The intention of this conference was to give ear toward understanding and reconciliation. Indeed, this forum proved to be an important meeting ground for building collaboration.Plenum 
(Gerhard, John, and Veronika during morning plenum)

During the first part of each morning of the conference, the entire ensemble was led by three accomplished musicians well-known in the realm of the lyre. John Clark (from Northern Ireland) started the group with “Ilmenau” by Charles Ives. This was followed by Gerhard Beilharz (from Germany) who conducted Melchior Frank’s “Canon” with variations that Gerhard himself composed. Swiss-born Veronika Roemer had adapted for lyres and viola the Vaughn-Williams arrangement of “Greensleeves,” which she then conducted while playing a masterful viola solo. 

Participants chose from a selection of workshops on the conference theme of peace and reconciliation. General workshops were also offered, ranging from Renaissance music to lyre music for those who are ill or preparing to cross the threshold of death. Small group sessions for beginner through advanced players offered opportunities to improve technical playing. 

Lyre Builders

An important aspect of this impulse of reconciliation was the moderated discussions between participants and those individuals who devote their time to crafting lyres. There were five lyre builders from three continents who shared in the conversation with lyre players. They forged meaningful relationships through this meeting, and much useful information was shared. 



It was a pleasure for all the adults to be joined by children, aged eleven to seventeen as part of the youth program, which took place concurrently. Christiana Porkert and Veronika Roemer led a vibrant and varied music program offering instruction in lyre as well as lively singing games and improvisation. 

Closing Images

At our final session together, participants shared their reflections on the conference in the form of images. A number of participants referred to the “meaningful exchange with others,” and noted the opportunities for social connection with other lyrists. A valuable gift of this lyre conference was the creation of new music together, which leads to mutual understanding. Some people expressed their gladness that so many friendships were formed during this time. 

One person likened the experience to a “tone garden,” as we explored the range of tonal qualities produced by the lyre. For some, the conference was seen as a bud opening into a flower. This image was offered as a picture of the newly-forged connections between lyre builders and players. 

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Attendees appreciated the discipline needed in mastering some complex musical work. Others noted the hygienic rhythms of the day. While there was seriousness in our contemplation of peace and ways to bring it about, there was also joy. 


The decision to hold this joining of world lyrists in an American city undergoing its own re-construction was deliberate. Some experienced Detroit as a river of renewal. Others were pleasantly surprised at the friendliness and helpful nature of the local residents. 

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One local resident spoke about the elements and the processes leading to rejuvenation. He described the palpable sensing, the witnessing of a re-birthing out of ash and desolation. For many lyre players, this conference served as fertile ground to plant seeds for future work together. 

Land of Acceptance

When recalling the political basis on which the United States was developed, we are reminded of its founding principle of tolerance. We picture a society built upon diversity, embracing and honoring one another’s traditions. The central idea for this nation calls to mind welcoming people from all backgrounds and beliefs, a land where people are free to live and express themselves as they choose. In a small but significant way, this conference recognized this, opening its gates to provide a musical haven for people from all nations. The mixing of many cultures and the acceptance of different points of view created warmth and community. 

The Lyre as Gift

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We who live at this time are privileged to have the lyre, associated with the Michaelic era, available to us. We have the freedom and the responsibility to bring this instrument to a new place, to offer the healing quality of the lyre tone out into the world. The International Lyre Conference of 2015 was indeed a global event. It was a coming together so that there can be a reaching out to those who can benefit from the lyre’s unique qualities. 

One of our esteemed teachers, Hajime Kira from Japan, stated our purpose succinctly: “We become one vessel when we play lyre all together. This creates the space for the Light streaming to us from the future.” 
Reflections from Catherine Decker,
LANA board member and participant from NY state

Opening Evening Keynote Remarks for Lyre 2015

by Sheila P. Johns 

The tone of the lyre is unique in all the world. It is a tone designed to come about when a specially designed combination of resonant wood and strings allow it to be released from those physical materials that birth it into audible space. For a few brief moments, it is possible to experience a tone that has become completely freed to express its true nature as a purely spiritual phenomenon. 

The lyre that produces such a tone is a gift of our time, just as it has been in earlier eons of history. It gives us pleasure and can even soothe our pain. With any other instrument, that would be just enough. But what if it isn’t? What if the gift of the lyre comes with a responsibility that extends beyond that of personal satisfaction? Is it possible that there is more to this instrument than we, in all of our richly varied endeavors, have so far managed to bring about? Is it possible in the context of the disturbing global situation in which we find ourselves, that this lyre with its freed tone has a task for our time? 

We have to wonder if the existence of the lyre in our contemporary world may suggest that this instrument, with its exceptional tone, has the capacity to elicit new thoughts about how we might learn to work together. How could this be so? The sounding of even a single lyre tone evokes a listening response – not just the usual “listening to,” but a deeper “listening into.” The tone of the lyre creates a space for silence. In that silence, we are thrown back onto ourselves, and into a state of inner listening. Could we consider the possibility that the deteriorating social conditions in our world may be asking us to listen within ourselves, to find elements of inner discord, unresolved grievance, resentment, or perhaps, a deep, longstanding sadness? 

Exactly 60 years ago this summer, a husband and wife songwriting team wrote a song about their dream of peace for the world and how they believed each one of us could help create it. The second verse of that now world-famous song says “Let Peace Begin with Me, Let THIS be the moment - Now. 

Can the lyre help us to find peace within our own souls? I was interested to discover that an obsolete use of the word “peace” is as a VERB that means To Be, or to Become Silent. “To Peace”. It may just be that through directing our awareness to the tone of the lyre, we might be able to learn how “to peace” - how to “listen in,” so that we may begin to experience the reflection, the after sounding that arises from the lyre tone. Such a gesture of “listening in” can then allow for a consciously penetrated “sounding out.” This kind of inner activity has the potential to reconnect us with the life forces that are always in and around us – life forces that can inspire a re-cognition of who we really are as human beings, and perhaps a sense for the social responsibility that such a realization entails. 

Our conference theme, The Lyre as Instrument for Peace, has been conceived in the spirit of the theme of Healing with the Lyre from our International Conference Lyre 2006 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Nine years later, we propose this week to take this theme to the next step – that of healing ourselves by playing, listening, and exploring together through our work with the lyre, toward the possibility of furthering understanding and reconciliation in the world. 

Contemplating English words that come to mind when considering the idea of healing of oneself, we can notice something quite curious:  Recognize, Reunite, Reconcile, Renew, Re-create, Refresh, Respond, Resonate, Realize, Reflect, Restore. What is the gesture of the English letter “R”?? Rolling, Running, Rushing activity! If the words above are any indication, it appears that the idea of healing oneself as a path to peace requires a certain amount of inner activity. 

The tone of the lyre may well have the potential to inspire us and our fellow human beings to the inner activity of creating a silent space to listen deep within ourselves - to find a space of peace, and to offer it back out again.   At the hand of the lyre, it may just be possible to come close to realizing what St. Frances meant when he prayed, “Oh Lord, Make Me an Instrument of Thy Peace.”
 August 2015


For the International Lyre Conference, August 2015 

Earth bears quiet peace longing to arise 
Seeds of love, glistening – 
Held in soul’s holy embrace 
in heart’s chamber, each opens space 
creating room for true listening. 
We hold heaven’s dream as if our own 
and stand as one in the circle of tone. 

Welcome Silence, warm and wise; 
To humanity’s voice we lend an ear  
music spun of infinite grace. 
Hope dwells in this sacred place; 
where sounding shared dissolves fear. 
Return to Peace, our true home  
nourish the radiant Being of Tone 

Gather voices into the light 
Step into the glow of love’s fire  
With distant neighbors we take hands 
Reach beyond words that misunderstand  
see ourselves in the tones of the lyre. 

When we greet the day after night has flown; 
We shall stand together in the Circle of Tone 

Catherine Decker, 3/17/15; revised July 2015

Youth Conference

The eleven youth who attended the International Conference worked in the mornings with Veronika Roemer and Christina Porkert, playing their lyres and preparing their offering for the Friday night Concert. In the afternoons, I was charged with taking the youth around Detroit for some diverse activities. I was assisted by Doena Gaines-Moore, a mother of some of the youth, who is a local Detroiter. 

The youth group consisted of one boy from Korea and one from Germany, along with two boys from New York, three girls from Michigan, three girls from the Detroit Waldorf School, and another girl from New York. Quite a diverse group, whose ages ranged from 11 to 17. Nancy Carpenter, Waldorf teacher from Detroit, and I had investigated several possibilities for youth activities, so here’s what we did: 

On Tuesday afternoon, we drove to Pewabic Pottery, a famous local maker of all things clay, and toured the gallery and active workshops where workers were hand-painting the famous tiles that have adorned many public buildings in Detroit and elsewhere in the Midwest. The gallery featured the works of some of the finest potters in this country. We learned about Pewabic’s history, all about clay and glazes, and sat down to decorate our own tiles. The Pottery had prepared 6” x 6” red clay tiles for the children, and gave them a scribing tool and six glazes to choose from. The results (after the tiles dry and are fired) will be shipped to each family. What amazing work the youth produced, from intricate nature patterns to lyres (of course)! 

We had time after our tile session to explore Belle Isle, a wonderful park on an island in the middle of the Detroit River, and found the beach. The highlight: eight of us swimming in the river throwing a frisbee! A perfect ending to our first day. 

Midtown Detroit is home to some of the finest museums in the country. On Wednesday, we first walked past the Library, where a Pewabic tile fireplace in the Teen Room harkened back to Tuesday’s adventure; then on to the Michigan Science Center, where interactive displays demonstrate dynamic principles of physics, optics, acoustics, industry, and many other aspects of science. Highlights: the static electricity demonstration, where one of our girls experienced her hair flying up in the air! And the planetarium, where an astronomer took us around the night sky and showed us dominant constellations. Wow! The show ended with a roller coaster ride along a Möbius strip; it was an exciting and enchanting conclusion to our Science day. 

On Thursday, several of the adult conferees joined us, compliments of our Skoot Shuttle, as we went to Greenfield Village in Dearborn, which is part of the vast Henry Ford Museum, factory, and car testing strips. There were 35 of us in all, so we broke into groups (I had “the boys”). We rode the railroad, met Thomas Edison and his labs, visited the Wright Brothers’ bicycle shop, Henry Ford’s house, the carousel, and the roundhouse, where Henry Ford’s “personal locomotive” had been restored. The train engine we rode had been salvaged from the same Upper Peninsula copper mines where Mrs. Harris, the founder of Pewabic Pottery had grown up! Suntanned (or a little burned) and somewhat exhausted, we returned to campus for a “free evening” with dinner at the dorm café. A most successful day! 
Joel Bartlett, Kimberton, Pennsylvania

More on the Youth Conference . . .

As we were pulling out of the Wayne State University parking lot at the end of the conference, there was some math going on in my car. “How old are we going to be in three years when we can go to the next International Lyre conference?” was the burning question of the three youths whom I had taken to the conference.

Being part of the Youth program, I certainly missed out on the “main” conference, but the mood I experienced all around was joyful and truly peaceful; and everything seemed to run very smoothly. Thanks to the organizers; you did an amazing job. 

Our group of 11 youths, aged 10-15, was a joy to work with. Thanks to Veronika Roemer, we had a great variety of other instruments (gongs, bordun lyres, psaltery, chrotta, percussion instruments, and so forth) to play and improvise with. Along with a lot of singing, these instruments complemented our lyre playing wonderfully. 

The outings in the afternoon were a good opportunity for the children to interact socially, and by day 3 everybody felt at home; and even the communication started to flow with our boy who spoke only Korean. After the outings we were ready for more lyre music; none of the children wanted to miss the artistic sharing in the evenings—never mind how long they’d last. The public concert on Friday night was certainly the highlight of the conference, and it was very special for the children to be invited to share what they had been working on all week. And what a fantastic job they did! Joining the big lyre orchestra in the mornings was a unique experience. Thanks to all, for including the children so warmly in the conference. Seeing a growing number of young adults participate was also a delight. Let’s hope all those precious seeds will carry over to the next International Lyre Conference. There is already an initiative sprouting to have a Youth Lyre Workshop at the East Coast before that, maybe even next summer – we’ll keep you posted! 

Before I end, I should share one of the many highlights we had working with the children: Day 2, the morning coffee break is coming to an end; in fact, I am three minutes late and can’t find any of the children…Hurrying up to our room, guess what I find —11 children sitting quietly in a circle, lyres on their laps, waiting for Veronika and me to come. I guess this says it all! 
Christina Porkert, New York State

Conversations Between Lyre Builders and Lyre Players

We scheduled a special meeting between lyre players and lyre builders on two afternoons during the International Lyre Conference in Detroit. These two meetings were attended each day by more than thirty participants sitting in a circle. The room was filled to capacity. Veronika Roemer moderated the meetings, which were focused on two questions: 
What kind of lyre are musicians looking for?and 
What factors do lyre builders work with when constructing a lyre?” 

These two meetings between lyre builders and lyre musicians were the first conversations ever to have happened with such an open and large format during a lyre conference. The outcome was a marvelous exchange between builders and musicians, who mutually supported each other. Many more questions were raised than answers given, because the lyre is an ongoing, evolving instrument, both for the musicians who are evolving with their listening capacity, and for the builders who continually struggle to optimize lyre design for the different situations that people have. 

Woven throughout all of the conversations was the type of sound that musicians desire. The lyre tone (in German, Klang) is the most important feature of the instrument that lyre players listen for. However, defining the ideal sound quality an individual is seeking is very personal. Even so, do lyre players have a common experience of the lyre tone such that a general description applies? Does the lyre tone have a vowel sound quality? Does it have a sound color? (What about overtones; nasal sound in contrast to open sound; freedom of sound not bound to the instrument; warmth and light features; clarity of tone?) 

We discussed other aspects of lyre construction having to do with size, shape, and ergonomics. What supports ease of hand placement; what best supports the resting of lyre on the lap, and assists in the holding of the lyre? What about the distance between strings, finger tension, and touch? What effect do the materials used in construction have on the final tone quality of the lyre? Cedar gives a light, strong quality to tone. Spruce gives a more malleable feature to tone. The thicker the wood, the more the tone quality is audible. Yet how can a light-weight lyre be built, as ergonomic as possible, within the constraints of an instrument that must hold the immense tension imposed by the strings (300-450 kg; 2.5 lbs. = kg) over many years without warping, cracking, or other stresses showing up that require repair? There are innumerable factors that lyre builders work with. The hardest dilemma to solve is how to balance the physics of construction with achieving lightness and transparency of tone. 

The lyre builders keep the individual player in mind during the building process, in order to create a lyre that encompasses the qualities that the lyre player has asked for, and that match how the lyre will be used. Builders try to balance many often-conflicting possibilities. So these meetings and conversations demonstrated how valuable this open discussion can be. In fact, a new type of design was stimulated by discussion between a builder and a teacher with a felt need. Very interesting indeed! May the conversation and feedback continue. Everyone is part of that process.
Suzanne Mays, LANA Board member and participant from North Carolina

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Stories from International Participants

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From Nina and Rebecca Dietzel, Germany

All we want to say is thank you for the conference! It was a very musical week. We had a lot of fun and found new friends. I hope to see most of the participants again soon. I miss a lot of them. Thank you for the very well planned organization and the beautiful songs we played in the plenum. Hope to see you soon. 

From Maria Inês Nigro Campos, Brazil

It was a very special meeting. The organization, the place chosen for holding the conference, welcoming people, the workshops, the songs chosen to be played together, presentations, everything perfect. My thanks to this team that made possible this meeting, where everything flowed smoothly. 

From John Clark, Ireland

Dear Lyre Players and Friend of "Lyrhythmy," 
I wanted to send you a link to the YouTube video which inspired this new way of playing that in no way replaces the normal good way of playing. 

You will see in the video some children in Indonesia playing in a Gamelan Orchestra and how much they enjoy the special movements created to accompany the music they are making. It was while watching this that I said "It would be great if Lyre Players could create beautiful movements like these!" and my partner Andre van Schaijk said “LYRHYTHMY!” and so the idea was born. 

Perhaps at the next World Lyre Congress we will be able to see newly created different movements that accompany the playing of the Brazilians or Chinese or American or German or Japanese Lyre Players. I look forward to it.  Here is the link: 

Murray Wright, lyre builder from Australia

I enjoyed the conference, with its opportunities to cross-fertilize musically, deepen friendships, and be re-inspired by the breadth of music and instrument work being done. The sense of welcome was a joy to receive. 

The dialogue between Builders and Players felt to be a valuable precedent, led exceptionally well by Veronika Roemer. Opening up direct communication between builders and players provides good stimulus for the builders, and a deepening knowledge for all about the lyre as an instrument. I hope this kind of discussion continues, not only at such occasions as this, but individually as well. There is more that can come from it, which will facilitate the lyres’ continuing development. 

The workshop with Jan Braunstein which I attended, “Musical Forms and Free Improvisation” was quite profound. Perhaps I was just “ripe” for it, but there was a definite transition that I think all the participants experienced, from music that we scrabble around with, hoping to meet an expectation, or reach a “goal,” to music that comes from real Presence—being present through the “I Am” of both the personal and larger sense of Being. By weaving through a number of different musical forms and improvising with them, Jan gradually drew us to a point where the one thing that makes a difference in music-making, was suddenly “visible”; we knew it, and were given the chance to step consciously into it. When we next played an improvisation, the difference in the music was palpable. The gift was a subtle but identifiable sense, empowering and alive, which all the participants were able to use, expressing it in the music, and feeling it at a deeper level. It was a conscious realization, identifiable and self-verifying as an inner gesture. 

Sensitively led, with timely and astute judgment, I found that this exercise had passed on a real gift for music, art, and life. I want to acknowledge what Jan did in this workshop at the conference as being important, and I think it is to be encouraged. 

Pan Kai, from China

On July 31, 2015, I came to the city of Detroit. Here we were going to have an eight-day conference on lyre learning and sharing. In the first three days, during the pedagogy conference, I met some of the best lyrists and teachers in the world, and learned many teaching methods and gained much performance knowledge. 

In the following conference, nearly 100 participants from all over the world were learning and sharing. We practiced our lyres every morning together, and then went to different workshops. The first two nights we had lyrists and their ensembles performing for us. Those days were intense, yet joyful. We were like a big family, getting together and learning from each other. Nobody saw themselves as great masters; everyone was equal. And we all wanted to bring the beautiful instrument with high quality of sound back to the whole world. 

When I came back to China, I gave a few lyre concerts; many medical doctor friends, teachers, and parents said my performance was improved. They said there’s more warmth in the music, and they could sense the space in between the notes. I think this is my best gift from the conference. I started to realize that the lyre, as a therapeutic instrument, must have the quality of warmth and the sense of space. 

I would like to thank all the instructors and volunteers in the conference,
with special thanks to Channa Seidenberg, Hajime Kira, and Gerhard Beilharz, who gave me private instruction. Their help to me will also help the Chinese lyre community. Lyre education in China has just started, and I hope there will be more great teachers coming to China to help us improve. Thank you! 

Yushi Zhang, from Chengdu, China and Minneapolis, Minnesota

I grew up in China, in a family with a dad who loved all kinds of art and musical activities. But he grew up in a society that made him think art is actually a waste of time, and maybe even dangerous (remembering the cultural revolution in China). But I had many kinds of artistic activities at home, until I went to first grade. 

I remember when I was little I told people that someday I’m going to collect all the kinds of musical instruments that exist in the world. And my best friend in primary school was sent to learn the clarinet for the possible future specialty awards in the exams. Luckily he liked it, although many other young kids hated it, and he played very well. I used to play harmonica to accompany his clarinet performance for our class. Unfortunately, I never had the chance to learn any instrument. However, the urge of learning music and arts never died in my heart. 

Now I live in Minnesota. When I heard there was to be a lyre conference in the US, I decided to go, even though I’ve never played a big lyre, and at the moment I was financially very stressed. I made up a few reasons to justify my decision. First, I remember somebody told me the lyre and the harp are good for birthing, and I’m a childbirth educator and doula. Second, I’m deeply involved in the Chinese Waldorf community; but since I moved to the US I had not found a similar community. At the moment, I felt so drained in the soul in our very commercial society, that I needed something like this for me to get back into the community. Third, Detroit is so geographically close to me—relatively speaking! When I was in China, all the “international” conferences happened abroad! 

So I went, and met the similar kind of wonderful people that I'm familiar with. I felt nourished and refreshed again. Imagine the refreshed feeling after a thunderstorm in California right now! :) At the conference I couldn’t stop talking to people, just to seize the chance to meet more souls. 

My first lyre lesson was in the dorm taught by my Japanese roommate. We used our broken English to communicate, Noun+Verb+Smiles, and yes, yes, yes. And this was THE method many of us foreigners used in the conference. Nobody felt excluded, and the content was perfectly passed to each other. 

I had interviews with many experienced teachers, lyrists, and lyre builders. It was such an honor to listen to their biography and different ideas about lyre and life. I wrote and am still writing more articles for a Chinese Waldorf website

Since we're both in Minneapolis, Marianne Dietzel and I will meet every week to play the lyre. She has introduced me to the Anthroposophical Society here in Minnesota. I don't feel isolated anymore, and it is such a gift. 

I started playing the lyre for my boys, and they so love it. They ask for stories accompanied by the lyre effect, and enjoy doing the “lyrhythmy.” This conference definitely changes many aspects of my life in the States, and even my connections to my Chinese friends. 

The summer of 2015 was an unforgettable one. Many things happened; many people came and went; many souls were met. The 2015 Lyre Conference was a great part of the summer.

Stories from U.S. Participants

Sheila Devlin, from Michigan

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Dear LANA, 
The International Lyre Conference of 2015 in Detroit was certainly special; a treat to meet wonderful people of common interest and so many willing to make long voyages. I felt honored by their presence. Circles beginning and circles closing characterize my life. Goethe's poetry for “Ilmenau” was given to me in high school fifty-two years ago. It was a pleasure to play this with others. Having a Japanese contingent at the conference closed another circle. My first and only visit to Japan through sister city relations brought me into contact with traditional Japanese instruments; and now it is lyre that brings us together. Knowing some Esperanto also helped me in Japan. Curiously enough, the Canadian and US Esperanto societies held their National Congress in July at Wayne State University about a week before we met there, in Towers and McGregor Hall. Knowing as I do that Esperanto speakers often open their homes to traveling fellow Esperantists, I think about the possibilities of combining my interests in this language of friendship and this lyric instrument for peace. A heartfelt thank you to all who made the conference possible, and to all the musicians who shared their expertise and performing talents with us. Here's to many more circle closings. 

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Sarah Stosiek, from Upstate New York

For me, the 2015 International Lyre Conference was inspiring beyond measure, a week I would not have missed for anything! In the morning plenum and in my workshops I learned not only the technical side of playing lyre, but also what it means truly to listen. The evening concerts provided me with loads of inspiration, as one after another offerings were presented from around the world. I found it fascinating to hear how lyre players from different countries brought distinct qualities into their music, which were different from players of other countries. Being able to connect with other lyre players my own age was especially exciting, and made this conference even more special! I would like to thank the entire LANA board for organizing an amazing conference! 

Alan Thewless, from Pennsylvania

Comparing Detroit with the last two international lyre conferences: Sweden (2009) and Germany (2012), this was certainly my favorite. Of course this is an entirely subjective statement! But going further into it, perhaps for me it was the fact of meeting increasingly familiar faces in the company of other lyre builders, and sensing therefore a greater degree of colleagueship. We shared experiences of lyre making, and explored together thoughts about the further development of our instrument. This provided a rich and memorable character to the events in Detroit and one from which I will find nourishment from for weeks and months to come. 

Over and beyond this, being together with the great company of lyre players in the context of such a wonderful theme: “The Lyre as Instrument for Peace: Giving Ear Toward Understanding and Reconciliation,” was a moving experience—a gift without borders. 

Susan Starr, Southern California

Very few phenomenal moments have happened in my life, but I experienced a depth within that I have never known before, following the Detroit International Lyre Conference. I have been a lyre player for many years, in a very simple way, on my Rose Lyre. I am often asked to play for Advent Gardens and various other occasions. I have been a Waldorf Kindergarten Teacher for thirty years, and now have stepped out of the work of caring for the children and creating a room with a mood of gentle warmth and kindness to hold them. I never knew how much having a clear focus was my life's way of filtering out the noise, impatience, and haste of the age we live in, until I no longer had the Waldorf oasis to always return to. 

Playing only for myself most of the year, my lyre sometimes felt a little dry at times. And then I talked to Nancy Carpenter in the spring and decided, though I am not a very good musician, to come and be among all of you. The first two nights I hardly slept; and then a shift happened the third night. After the evening offering, returning to my room, my guard (that is up a lot of time) could step back and allow the nourishment of tones received to carry me into the world of good sleep. 

And so the second half of the conference, and then all the way home to California on the airplane, I could revisit the moments that were shared with so many wonderful people from so many places, and the music stayed with me. My life has truly changed, and a healing I never expected is a part of me. I feel I can filter the noise and bustle of living in southern California again, but in a new-found way. 

But most of all, when I play my simple lyre, it now sings and rejoices for having been within such a community. I am not sure, but I think it too, absorbed the tones right into its wood, and together we greet the changing of the light. Thank you forever to the organizing committee for this unique life experience.

Anne Frances Martin from Baltimore, MD

To the Survival of Our Species – As a relatively new lyrist, it continues to astound me that there are so few lyre players in our world. In my four years of playing the lyre, I have frequently heard my lyre compatriots in the United States bemoan the fact that they are the only lyrist in their town or city, sometimes a metropolis of hundreds of thousands of people! Fortunately for me, a lone lyrist in the city of Baltimore, I have a few lyre companions a fifty-minute car trek away, which helps quell my bouts of loneliness. 

The pressures on our species “ lone lyrist” force us to self-pollinate. The joy-filled grace of a tone well-played must, in and of itself, carry us to our next day’s practice, and so on. If we study self-pollination, we learn that one of its grossest shortcomings is that it doesn’t introduce any variations! Perhaps that explains my own behavior of clinging to certain familiar repertoire and ways of playing rather than venturing off in new directions. 

Enter Divine Providence! At periodic intervals, what we could call “the overarching devas of the lyre world” invite the lone-lyrist species, and those who might not be so very alone, to congregate and share. The International Lyre Conference in Detroit, Michigan in August of 2015 was my first exposure to such a cross-pollination on an international level. I felt like a lone flower who awoke one day startled to find herself joined by a large field of lovely, robust, wild flowers! 

I can’t fathom all the variations that were introduced and will continue to be inspired by the rich interactions that occurred at the Detroit conference. For starters, we were all blessed with that beautiful new word, “lyrhythmy,” and the accompanying gesture, thanks to Andre Schaijk and John Clark. I sense that this will somehow nourish the lone-lyrist species. When we embody these signature movements in our practice, we will know that someone down near the equator or halfway around the world is gesturing with us. We are not alone! 

Other blessings in Detroit came by way of the gift of witnessing people from cultures different from our own, playing the lyre! It’s difficult to put words to the bounty of such cross-cultural pollination. With fourteen countries represented, and such generous artistic and workshop offerings, it was truly a showering of infinite possibility. I found myself lifted above my US-centric and sometimes narrow cultural repertoire to receive fully the other flavors of lyre playing made visible. I ponder what it would have been like to listen to all of the offerings blindfolded, not knowing any of the participants and their backgrounds, or the specifics of their offerings. Somehow, the beautiful distinctions that were revealed seemed most perceptible from that deep listening place that I find most easily without assistance from my eyes. 

One offering where the blindfold truly might have left me blind, would have been the offering of Mozart’s Rondo alla Turca. I might have asked, “How many lyres am I listening to?” Alas, the foible in my thinking, that there is always a one–to-one ratio between lyrists and lyres, would have been exposed if I had pulled off my blindfold to witness the twins, Nina and Rebecca Dietzel, engaged in their extraordinary feat of playing Mozart together on one lyre! Another treasure of the conference was seeing the lyre builders come together and have the opportunity not only to share with each other and the lyre players, but also to witness people playing the instruments that they had so carefully and lovingly created. I was touched by Murray Wright’s comment that watching people play his instruments made it all worthwhile. If as lyrists we sometimes find ourselves lonely, can you imagine how the lyre builders must feel? 

Cross-pollination increases the chances of the survival of a species. When we congregate and share as we did in Detroit, I can’t help but sense that not only are we strengthening the species “lone lyrist” and all related lyre species, but the overall human species as well. 

Sheila Johns, U.S. and Ecuador

(Two weeks after the conference): As I reflect back on our time in Detroit, the feeling quality of the experience becomes ever stronger for me as these two weeks have passed. I feel that it is truly amazing what was allowed to come to pass during our days together. On reflection, it seems almost like all of our hard work, each of us in our own areas of assumed responsibility, was orchestrated like a symphony, from airport rides, to registration, to browsing for music, to considering the shapes and sounds of our instrument itself, to putting programs together, to teaching and participating in both small and large groups, to experiencing the amazing potential of the next generation of lyrists, to deepening old friendships and making important new ones, to socializing down the hallways and in the kitchen, to jamming in the conference room, to the merging of our different spoken languages into our common musical one—playing together, listening together, sharing together on every level and finally, with the general public. It was a week of pure magic, both similar to, and utterly different from any international gathering we have ever had. A distinctly new sense of real community has emerged; it was what some of us had envisioned in 2003 but which only now, twelve years later, seemed truly destined to finally come about. 

I want to express my gratitude to each one of you who labored so diligently to do your part to make this all happen. I truly marvel at the beautiful way in which everyone devoted their full efforts to creating a whole that, looking back, ended up being so very much greater than the sum of all of its parts; greater than any of us imagined it could be.

Photo Credits
Many good photos were taken at the conference, by Debbie Barford, John Billing, Andrea Lyman, Emily Lee, Justin Montefiore, and others. Samantha Embrey's album, with comments, is posted on Facebook: 

Debbie Barford writes: There is also a link to my Facebook album, which is public and has been posted on the World Lyre Community page:

Join The World Lyre Community on Facebook here.

From the LANA Board: We regret not being able to incorporate some much-appreciated last-minute contributions, but will gratefully include those in the next issue!  There are many wonderful things that could be added. If you would like to write something about the conference (or any lyre activity) to put in a future issue of Lyre Notes, please send it to Colleen Shetland,

Other Lyre Activites in the US, Brazil & Japan

Holly Richardson, Colorado 
When I went to the 2014 Lyre Conference in Portland, it was a bit of a miracle that I got there, and then another miracle that I was able to purchase a used soprano lyre, too. Then I came home and began playing the lyre for the school community a bit as an introduction. I played for the Advent spiral, the faculty, and for an occasional parent-child music class that I teach. But primarily I play for my friend Hartmut Schiffer, an eighty-nine-year old (90 on Michaelmas!) retired Waldorf class teacher from Germany, who now lives in Carbondale where I live. He is blind, and I am his primary caretaker. He is the driving force behind the lyre group; he sent me to the Portland conference, bought me the lyre, and now wants me to play for him every chance possible! There are two additional teachers in my community who are both musicians and are interested in learning the lyre; and that is why I am on the search for two more lyres. Lately, Hartmut has been singing me lullabies, and I have been playing them back to him on the lyre, which is great fun. 

I hope that gives you a bit of a picture of what I am doing and why I want two more lyres! (See “Wanted” in the Ads.) 
Blessings, Holly Richardson /
Sageflower Preschool Teacher, Musical Storytime Teacher, & Parent Enrichment Coordinator 
for the Waldorf School on the Roaring Fork 

Brazilian Lyre Activities after Lyre 2015, by Flavia Betti

After our return from the International Lyre Conference in Detroit, we shared the rich experiences, the musical material, and the stories that we brought, with other lyrists from Cântaro (our music school here in Brazil). And now, with renewed soul, with the beautiful and intense experiences, we continue our work in Cântaro. 

On September 17, a group of twelve lyre players opened the anthroposophic meditation seminar at SITRAEMG auditorium in Belo Horizonte. 

Plans for the future: toward the end of the year, Cântaro is preparing a beautiful Christmas program, which includes Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring, with the lyres; and the Christmas Auto, a piece for choir and piano by Marcelo Petraglia. 

In November, we will take this program to a day care center that provides assistance for children of slums, and a nursing home for the elderly. In December, we will make a presentation dedicated to children in a theater, at two different times. 

In addition to these events dedicated to the general public, we will have what we call the Internal Festival, when the lyrists, individually or in small groups, present to others the results of their work. It is an opportunity to offer a musical present to colleagues, and also to receive, to listen, and enjoy the sound of lyres. 

It is a joy sharing with lyrists from worldwide our activities and our music. It makes us feel part of this great family spread throughout the various countries, forming a huge network, making the lyres sound, each one from their own city and their own group. 

A warm hug from all of Brazil ! 

Japanese Lyre Association Raises Funds for Colin Tanser

One of our most beloved lyrists and composers for the lyre has recently been ill, and various groups have been raising funds for his medical treatments, including the Japanese Lyre Association. 

Colin Tanser is known to the lyre world as a composer of numerous songs that we’ve played with delight. He also has been a renowned music therapist in the Camphill movement. Born in England, he was music therapist for nineteen years in Scotland at Camphill School Aberdeen for children with special needs. He retired in 2009. He wrote songs that were performed in the Camphill homes and assemblies, taught music and lyre to Camphill co-workers, and mentored interning musical therapists, including Samantha Embrey, who is currently Music Sales coordinator of LANA. 

Colin composed the suite Everyman for lyre ensemble and children’s voices, which was commissioned for Lyre 2006, the international lyre conference in Northern Ireland. Everyman has since been performed around the world. Colin is the author of the chapter on Music Therapy in Jackson, R. ed. Discovering Camphill: New Perspectives, Research and Developments. Edinburgh: Floris Books, 2006. 

9-MusicSales 2
Samantha Embrey, a former board member of LANA, has dedicated many hours, with Jennie Tanser’s permission, to put Colin Tanser’s music into digital form (scanning, cleaning, formatting images and converting to PDFs.) Samantha then sent the files to Japan. The Lyre Association of Japan made 100 copies of four books, which they sold at their conference on September 12-13. The proceeds will be sent to Colin and Jennie Tanser for his medical treatments. Here's the photo of the music at the conference.  

Anyone wishing to make a donation for Colin Tanser may do so by sending it to LANA's PayPal account,

Report from the 2015 Annual General Meeting

Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Lyre Association of North America, 2015 

The AGM took place at 4:45 pm just before the start of the International Lyre Conference in Detroit, August 3. Those present, together with mailed proxies, constituted a quorum. 

The business portion of the meeting consisted of re-electing three board members for an additional three-year term: Debbie Barford, Sheila Johns, and Colleen Shetland. Reports and updates were presented on: 
1) Derscheid Legacy Project, noting that the materials have arrived from Herr Derscheid’s workshop in Germany and are in Alan Thewless’s possession, who will have the task of building these wonderful legacy lyres according to the Derscheid template, for any who pre-order them. 
2) Lyre Rental Program: currently there are not enough lyres for rent to meet the demand, and LANA plans to acquire more lyres for this purpose. 
3) Music Sales: Samantha Embrey has considerably expanded the music that is for sale. 
4) Treasurer’s Report by Margo Ketchum, with emphasized on LANA's Lyre Teachers Fund. Members and friends are encouraged to contribute to this fund in support of future lyre pedagogy work.

Questions that arose from discussion during the meeting: 
1) What skill sets is the LANA board looking for in its board members? 
2) Might smaller regional conferences be more practical than having annual conferences? 
3) How can lyre players around the world use computer technology to keep more closely in touch with each other, and increase global accessibility to the work of the lyre? 
These questions were duly noted, and will be taken up for discussion by the board in the coming months. 

The final item on the agenda was reports from individuals and group lyre activity from various regions: Canada, the West Coast, Midwest, East Coast, and the South.



  • To foster the experience and recognition of the freed tone
  • To foster the rediscovery and the deepening of the capacity to listen
  • To initiate, inspire, and support the sounding of the lyre for artistic, pedagogical, and therapeutic activity
  • To support the development of a movement for musical renewal in all its manifestations.


Membership in LANA

We invite you to join the Lyre Association of North America!   LANA members receive a subscription to Soundings: A Lyre Review (containing substantive articles and a music supplement) and a discount on fees for all conferences and workshops sponsored by LANA as well as on music bought through our service. Membership runs for one year from the time dues are received or one year from the expiration of current membership, whichever is a later expiration date.

Please make check for $40 (or $50 as Supporting Member) payable to "LANA" and send to: LANA, c/o M. Ketchum, 13 Morgan St, Phoenixville, PA 19460. Or pay with PayPal by sending money to  To fill out a form online, click this link: LANA Membership Form


Instruments and Accessories

Lyre Rentals
The Lyre Association has Choroi and Gärtner lyres of various sizes that are available for rent. Monthly rent is $30$40, depending upon size and quality.
  • Gärtner Soprano,  27 strings 
    Contact Margo Ketchum: 610-608-9281,
  • Rose lyre, soprano – Contact Debra Barford:, 773-561-7910
For more information on lyre rentals, contact Rosamond Hughes: 604-985-3019 /

New Lyres for Sale
LEIER_INSTRUMENTECurrently, most new lyres must be purchased directly from the builders, although we are exploring the possibility of having an American representative for some of the builders in Europe, etc. Contact Sheila Johns (301-681-6546 / with questions. Choroi lyres may be purchased through Mercurius ( Also, see ad below for Tir-anna lyres.


Alan Thewless
  • A full range of handcrafted Soprano & Solo lyres plus Kinderharps, designed and built by Alan Thewless. 
  • Derscheid lyres faithfully reproduced in the Tir-anna workshop as Derscheid Legacy Lyres. 
  • Lyre repairs and restringing 
  • A small selection of secondhand and restored instruments. 
  • Strings for most lyres, good quality, made by Pyramid Strings in Germany 
  • Located in Pennsylvania, in the US 
Contact Alan Thewless: 610-970-3047 /

Martin Nies 
  • Handcrafted lyres in a German workshop. 
  • Kinderlyre, solo soprano, alto, tenor.
  • Handspun metal strings. 
Contact Martin: Website


  • An alto lyre and a soprano lyre wanted for purchase. Used or New. Please contact Holly Richardson at or call at 970-963-0140. Thanks so much!
  • Harpist in Burbank, CA wants to buy or rent a soprano lyre, new or used. Please contact Sandra Gayle,

Music Sales

For Lyre 2015, we replenished our stock and acquired many new publications. Check out LANA's website ( for an updated list of our available music to order as well as information about how to order. 

For inquiries, contact Samantha Embrey at 434-277-8180 or

LANA Board Members

Colleen Shetland, President –3307 Cool Spring Rd, Hyattsville, MD 20783; 703-998-5264 /

Channa Seidenberg, Vice President – PO Box 925, Philmont, NY 12565; 518- 672-4389 /

Sheila Johns, Board Executive Group; Cuenca, Ecuador; 301-681-6546 /

Margo Ketchum, Treasurer – 13 Morgan St, Phoenixville, PA 19460   610-608-9281;

• Suzanne Mays, Secretary – 5622 Brisbane Dr, Chapel Hill, NC 27514; 919-929-1073 /

Nancy Carpenter – 17155 Sioux, Detroit, MI 48224; 313-879-1212 /

Catherine Decker – PO Box 87, Philmont, NY 12565; 518-392-4692 /

Debbie Barford – 934 W. Carmen #2W, Chicago, IL 60640; 773-561-7910 /

Rosamond Hughes –310-1641 Lonsdale Ave, North Vancouver, BC V7M 2J5, Canada; 604-985-3019 /

Christof-Andreas Lindenberg, Emeritus – 1784 Fairview Rd, Glenmoore, PA 19343 610-469-2583

Lyre Teachers

Quebec, CANADA – Audrey Paquin~819-327-5075,

Sebastopol, CA – Robin Elliott ~ 707-829-2409,

Fair Oaks/Sacramento, CA – Andrea Pronto ~ 530-637-5970,

Detroit, MI – Nancy Carpenter ~ 313-879-1212,

Ann Arbor, MI  MaryLynn Channer~734-856-5380, 

Chicago, IL  Debbie Barford ~ 773-339-8707,

Temple, NH  Juliane Weeks ~ 603-291-0447,

Copake, NY  Monika Talaya ~ 518-329-0249,

Hillsdale, NY Diane Barnes ~ 518-325-1113,

Harlemville, NY  Channa Seidenberg ~ 518-672-4389,

Kinderhook, NY  Christina Porkert ~ 518-758-2428,

Chestnut Ridge/ Spring Valley, NY
Christiane Landowne 914-425-8589
Laura Langford-Schnur ~ 845-469-2227,

Kimberton, PA  Kerry Lee ~ 610-948-5026,

Allentown, PA Veronika Roemer ~ 610-377-3086,

Washington, DC  Colleen Shetland ~ 703-998-5264

Central Virginia – Samantha Embrey ~ 434-277-8180,

Chapel Hill, NC
 Joanna Carey ~ 919-885-7569,
 Suzanne Mays ~ 919-929-1073,

• Skype from Ecuador
 Sheila Johns ~ 301-681-6546,

LYRE NOTES, c/o Colleen Shetland: (703) 998-5264, Email:
Membership, c/o Margo Ketchum:
13 Morgan St, Phoenixville, PA 19460 /

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