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The Story of the Lyre

Lyre in TreeAwake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre!  I will awaken the dawn.”  Psalm 57:8, The Bible

The lyre is an ancient musical instrument that has a sound box (or resonator) with two arms connecting a crossbar and strings of similar length running parallel to its length.  The instrument has changed through time and place, with variations in the number of strings, how it was held, the materials the strings and bodies were made from and whether it was plucked, strummed, or played with a plectrum.

Lyres were played in many lands across the ancient world.  The oldest known surviving lyre dates back to 2800 BC in Sumeria.  The Sumerians held their lyres vertically, with the crossbar at the top. The Egyptians played them with the crossbar pointing out away from their body.  The Saxons would accompany their evening fireside storytelling by strumming music from the lyre. + Read More

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Where does music come from? Part Five

In previous posts for this series, I outlined what I believe to be compelling evidence that many musical masters of the past continue to work after their passing by mentoring and guiding musicians here on earth. As a composer myself, I find it a great comfort to know that there are non-physical guides, far more musically accomplished than I could ever be, who might be willing to assist me. After all, my training as a musician is quite limited: I studied music to O’Level standard and played a trombone in the school orchestra.

Unlike Rosemary Brown, I am not a medium. I don’t have the gifts of clairvoyance or clairaudiance and so can’t see or hear any non-physical guides. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t connect with them and that I can’t be helped by them when writing music.

Michael-Composing1

Personal Experience

After some initial struggles to compose music of any quality, I learned to follow a discipline which over the years has aided me enormously, helping me to receive the inspiration and ideas needed to embark upon a new piece, as well as the ability to successfully convert these ideas into sound.

Before starting on a new piece of music, I ask that I might be given the right music for whatever project I am working on at that time. This request is in the form of a thought, or a prayer. It is ‘addressed’ to the guides who I believe will be waiting to work with me, as described in part three of this series. Sometimes the request is sent just before I am about to write the music; on other occasions it might be several days in advance. Shortly afterwards, I often get the sense of a piece of music being gradually ‘downloaded’ into my being. Sometimes a theme will come into my thoughts and over the course of several days, I notice that it is playing away and being developed in a corner of my mind, often whilst I am engaged in some other, non-musical activity.

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Harp Music in Bluebell Wood

Harp in Bluebell Wood

The Earth has music for those who listen.” William Shakespeare

Music in the air, music in the sea, music in the animals, music in the trees – the music of the spheres is there to be heard within everything upon the Earth.

The sound of the bird song, the sparkling of the spring and the whistling of the wind all contribute to the song that nature constantly sings.  By spending time in nature, we can feel rejuvenated as our stresses and tensions melt away with the sights, scents and sounds.  We can breathe in the fresh air and allow ourselves to be serenaded by the birds and wind in the leaves.

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A Heron Messenger

HeronRainbow Light Trust once had an office overlooking a river, which runs through the centre of town and we were very fortunate to be able to step outside to take a refreshing break by the water.  A heron often visits here, swooping gracefully down, to the delight of those passing by.  People take a moment to pause and watch as the heron stands very still by the water, providing a picture of poise and a focus for a moment of calm reflection.

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The Importance of Reading Fairy Tales

CinderellaI want to talk to parents, grandparents and teachers to let them know how important it is to read fairy tales to their children, grandchildren and pupils. We are holding the light for a lost generation who are becoming increasingly disconnected from their intuition and from nature and their environment.

A child is like sleeping beauty, asleep and waiting for a handsome prince to wake them up and reconnect them to a deeper understanding of the joy of life and its meaning. True Fairy tales (not the re-written ones or the politically correct ones with the anti-hero) introduce children to moral choices and demonstrate that all choices like actions, have a consequence. Fairy tales build confidence and self esteem as the characters struggle against the horrors of their situation to eventually emerge victorious.

We cannot hide our children from the horrors of life, sooner or later they will have to be out in the world and will have to learn to cope with its dangers and disappointments. We can help to equip our children and grandchildren to face what is to come by reading fairy stories to them, with which they can identify and that will inspire them to be better human beings.

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Making Time

White-BlossomFor many, the idea of taking time to meditate may seem like wishful thinking.  When it seems as though there are not enough hours in the day, meditation can be a nice idea, which we’ll definitely try sometime – one day when we’re not so busy! Perhaps being busy – and being seen to be busy – helps us to feel good about ourselves or needed or important.  Stopping might create uncertainty and being quiet could feel threatening.

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Where does music come from? Part Four

The previous articles from this series have considered the possibility that musicians are assisted in their creative moments by non-physical guides, a view supported not only by statements made by various eminent pop and classical musicians, but also by two spiritual mediums in particular, Leslie Flint and Rosemary Brown, both of whom were able to contact and ‘channel’ the spirits of composers.

Sceptics may be tempted to dismiss these claims. After all, both Leslie Flint and Rosemary Brown achieved a degree of fame as a result of their alleged contact with the spirits of composers, which would provide a possible motive for making such assertions.

John-Lill

John Lill

That motive could not be applied to John Lill. Since 1963, he has been one of Britain’s foremost concert pianists. He shot to international stardom in 1970 when he won the most coveted piano prize in the world, the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow.

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Planting Seeds

BlossomAs I write this in early April, we are emerging from Winter and all around, the energies are shifting. The sun brings its welcome warmth and it is as if everything is waking up from a deep sleep. The air is full of promise and in the exuberance of Spring, we have a sense of new beginnings.

Now it is a time of action and expansion; time to turn the soil in the garden and select the seeds for planting. The process of growing vegetables, herbs and flowers begins and whether we are gardeners or not, we are aware of the renewal of life and the unfolding of the cycle. The ebb and flow of nature is part of our lives and we feel the expectation of abundance.

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Creative Play: Playing with Kevin

Pirate_shipWhen I met Kevin, he was four years old, I had been teaching in Southern Ireland and Kevin’s mother had attended the workshop. At the end of the day she approached me for help. She was a single parent, struggling to cope with her ‘unmanageable hyperactive’ four year old and told me that Kevin was a ball of energy, who refused to sit still or do as he was told. She said that Kevin had difficulty relating to other children. Her relationship with Kevin’s father was not good and his visits to see his son were spasmodic and unreliable.  There were no new men in her life because Kevin slept in her bed each night and constantly demanded her time and energy during the day. She told me that she wasn’t coping and felt unable to impose any structure or routine at home.

At our first meeting Kevin darted into the room in front of his mother, clutching a small brown bag of toy instruments. His mother’s tension was palpable and in her lilting Irish brogue she continually remonstrated with him with pleas of “Don’t be wild now”. Kevin ignored her and continued to run around the room in excitement. I reassured her that he would be fine, suggested that she went for a cup of tea and quickly ushered her out of the room, with a request to return for Kevin in half an hour.

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A Chink of Light

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

If we find ourselves shut in a very dark room, it takes a while for our eyes to adjust. At first we can’t see anything at all. Then, if there is even the smallest chink of light, we begin to get our bearings.  We are able to make out shapes, find our way around and locate the door! Even a tiny amount of light can help us to change our situation, once we have adapted.

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