Where to begin? So much to say.
A few months ago I was invited to present at the Third Asian Rhythm Faciltator’s Conference at Port Dixon, Malaysia by my good friend John J Hagedorn. I accepted readily. I was already planning to visit Kuala Lumpur and deliver an ERS Training so this was a good fit. John agreed to tag the training onto his workshop schedule, which would run pre and post conference, even though we didn’t really tick the box of the conference title, “Rhythm Heals.” I submitted a proposal to present on Mindfulness and Rhythm which was accepted. More on that later.
I arrived in KL in late April, a few days before my training was due to begin. John had arranged a hotel for me as his house was being re-modeled and my usual crash space was unavailable. I settled in quickly this being my fourth visit in two years and did some prep for my own program, the first in an amazing series of workshops.
I had 15 attendees on my workshop over two days and together we co-created the best training I have facilitated to date. It flowed beautifully and everyone fully engaged in the process of getting more EXPRESSIVE, deepening our connection to RHYTHM and learning more about how we tell STORIES.
A huge success and once again thanks to Christina Jeremiah from PIPI for her faith in me.
We are already planning the next training for March 2017. Dates to be announced. Sign up to our email list to be kept informed. Also keep your eyes open for a UK Training in 2017.
One of the benefits of being first to deliver a workshop is that you are then free to relax and enjoy all that is to come. As a conference presenter I got to take any of the workshops on offer. I filled my boots and did the lot. Here is what I did pre-conference.
- Basic African Djembe Techniques with Alison Surridge
- Rhythm2Recovery: Rhythmic Interventions for Psych-social development with Simon Faulkner
Post conference I attended the following workshops.
- Health Rhythms with Christine Stevens
- Weekend Drum Circle Facilitator Playshop with Arthur Hull
- Therapeutic Rhythm Communication with Dr Jane Bentley
I could write reams and reams of stuff about each particular workshop, my connections made and deepened and my own profound learning but it would be more than a blog right? How to be succinct and yet informative? They, the trainers and their programs changed my practice in ways I do not yet know but can begin to fathom based on what emerged at the conference. Which leads me nicely to…the conference.
Once again we traveled South to Port Dixon and the wonderfully luxuriant Thistle Resort ( See picture below) for two days of sharing around the theme ‘Rhythm Heals.’
The conference opened with a drum circle and facilitator Jump-Time before we settled down for the Key Note from The Doctor ( Dr Jane Bentley) Jane opened the conference with a thoughtful and foundation setting presentation entitled ‘Rhythm Heals: A multidimensional Perspective.’ Having had the pleasure of working with one of Jane’s groups, The Buddy Beat prior to this trip as she was away on her Churchill Fellowship Travels, I felt I had a bit of an inside track on the talk and my own experience with her proteges only deepened my respect for this fabulous woman. She walks her talk.
Then we drummed some more 😉
Saturday brought more presenters and a variety of styles. Laughter Yoga is a great way to begin a day and Chandanna Denzayll led us beautifully into this space. Oh and did we laugh.
Edwin Nathaniel – The R.I.S.E Program for Special Needs. Edwin does awesome work in KL. Seriously awesome work. This presentation culminated in a concert with one of Edwin’s groups. Such an emotional closing. Not a dry eye in the house. Pure Magic.
We had further sessions from Alison: Drumming for life, a hands on experience of being a participant in one of her regular UK based sessions. I learned to play Clave with my toes!!!
Mei Ling Jesica Chong standing in for Dr Indra V Selvarajah: The Role of Rhythm in Healing: Rhythm Based MMT Techniques. Mei Ling did a great job at short notice and made my ears prick up when she mentioned Musical Stories. Cue post presentation conversations.(Plural)
Ray Watters – The Drum Calls Them, but the Circle Heals Them. This was the controversial presentation for the conference, a must have in my opinion. Nothing like a good pot stirrer eh Ray? 😉 A fascinating look at Relationships and Rhythm and their connection. Much more to come from this subject matter I suspect.
Time for dinner and chat and then back for the evening presentation.
Rhonwyn Hagedorn – Traditional Sarawakian Dances. We were taught a female and a male dance by Rhonwyn and by Dan who have spent time learning with the Kelabit people from Sarawak and finished the evening with a traditional Bamboo dance and a few bruised toes before late night drumming commenced.
A full and wonderful day.
Sunday brought with it a whole new swathe of presenters and we began our day with some Music Medicine courtesy of Christine Stevens. This opening presentation was to set a tone for me which unfolded as the day progressed and fed into my own presentation which was to close the conference. The circle opened to uncover silence, rhythm, melody and harmony and we wove our collective magic around this theme.
Christine’s opening was followed by a gentle and meditative session led by Tomoko Yokota called Unwind Your Mind Through Rhythm. We were led on a beautiful journey with chimes, black piano keys and drums.
Simon Faulkner followed with the standout part of the session for me being the use of an emergent rhythmic-wave taken from his Rhythm2Recovery program. That and the Zombie game. More ideas were forming in my mind by this time. Emerging you might say.
We moved from here into a Transcendental presentation by Varun Venkit & Dr Anand Godse – The Concept of Facilitation: An Indian Perspective. This was deep stuff, cognitive but experiential. Here but not here. We are nobody and everybody.
I was next. I had prepared a guided mindfulness meditation which I had planned to involve meditative silence and then drumming. In the short break before the previous presentation I had scribbled all over it. New ideas. Emergent possibilities. Inspired by the presenters on the day I wanted to somehow open up the possibility for all those things to be present in my session. I began by talking about how I was not qualified in my own mind to address the theme Rhythm Heals as my primary practice is Educational. This had created a dialogue with myself prior to the conference which led to the creation of this session.
I had prepared some notes for reflection, meditation. I suggested that once the silence was complete I would sound the Bell and whatever music emerged was fine and that when it was done it would find its own way back to silence. Drums, chimes, piano, voice…bring em all in.
We did three sits, three passages of silence, from which emerged three very different and incredibly beautiful pieces of music. Each piece formed a wave, rising up from the silence to a peak and then falling back into the silence as if nature intended it to be that way. Each piece was amazing. I sat back and let go. No facilitation at all. Just being there. After the third piece ended I glanced at the clock. My hour was done.
I dropped the walking meditation I had planned. We were done. I have a new piece to work with. I don’t know what it is going to be called yet.
Let’s see what emerges.
Huge Thank You to John J Hagedorn and to Rhonwyn Hagedorn for organising the best conference ever. To everyone else who presented for your inspiration and to all the new rhythm family members I met.
What an amazing few weeks we had. Can’t wait till we do it all again in 2018.
If you do Facebook check out all the wonderful photos at the ARFC page.