Vegetarian Dee

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Manila Waldorf School's Music Workshop with Stephan Kuehne


This was the first thing Stephan Kuehne said to us as he walked around the room with a hand drum to see how each participant would react to it. 

I wanted to grab the drum and show him what I knew, but I had to sit back and learn more lessons that morning. 

"Lean back. Relax. And you will get the drum. Do this and your life will change-- I promise."

Celebrating two decades this July, Manila Waldorf School (MWS) invited Stephan to give a unique, enjoyable and powerful Team Building Workshop in the Timberland campus last July 31, 2014. 

We were an intimate group of parents, teachers and mentors who all ended up showing off our singing and flute blowing talents by the end of the workshop.

Stephan is 'terribly in this tradition' coming from two generations of Waldorf parents.  
He is a musician, Waldorf teacher and experienced music therapist in the Berlin Havelhoehe Anthroposophic Hospital where he does does one-on-one sessions with children and adults.

"Silence is the best form of music. Silence is inner peace, space inside your heart, mind and soul. I try to listen to the space between us. It is very interesting to me."

His simple words were profound and meant a lot to me-- 33-year old yummymummy of two boys- Benicio, 7 year old first grader in MWS, and Guido Pascal 1 year old; sambista drummer and dancer for Samba School Imperatriz Filipinense (SSIF).

"The drum is telling me secrets about yourself."

This was very exciting for me. I started drumming with Toni Bernardo and SSFI about a decade ago without prior music training except for the love of it. Toni, our drum director, would always tell me to relax and get out of my thoughts, be in the moment and just feel the music. It's funny but beautiful how you can tell so much about a person by the way they play instruments.  

The morning was spent playing games with the many instruments Stephan collected from his numerous travels. In one game, he rolled the drum across the room several times to be caught by someone on the other end. We listened intently as the wooden frame danced on the floor. A few times, it dropped, creating a whirling sound because a sudden thump. Initially, the Filipino in us- warm, so open and giving- will say Sorry instantly, without even thinking. 


"Don't say sorry. Why would you? Enjoy these mistakes and accidents. If we are too perfect, the children get scared and can't breathe."

"Accidents make us wake up. They make us listen to the signs instead of becoming deaf to life."
This lesson echoed my joyous days with Anna Escay-Cortes and Kara Cortes at My Masterpiece Movement-- Mistakes are our best friends. 

Just yesterday, as Benny was drawing, he said, 
"Mom, you know, if you make a mistake, you can just draw over and around it to make something new." 

This made my heart sing. 

Stephan also emphasized the idea of shared responsibility- how 'we are all included and needed' in the grand scheme of things, and how our actions create ripples around us and in the world. 

"The music experience then becomes an experience of learning how to listen and how to communicate which can be translated into daily relationships of working together. Creating harmony together through the instruments or through voice can also be a mirror of a harmonious and successful life in the organization."

He touched on how the weather is very important. It is no wonder the Brits say, 'How is the weather?' instead of 'How are you?' because the weather can dictate our feelings and disposition. We are lucky to live in this sunny country of smiles and laughter. 

Like us, weather also affects real leather and wooden instruments. 
This is one of the reasons why Waldorf schools highly encourage wooden toys and furniture, because the children learn from sensation and touch. A plastic thing will not teach the same. 

"We need to make decisions. We as parents and teachers. Not compromise. The children are the future and we make them happy by making decisions- good or bad."

This is valuable information. Too often have I caught myself asking my son to decide on what to eat, what to wear and what to do. There should be clear lines where the parent ends and the child begins. Children thrive on rhythm and routine and as parents and teachers, we are here to guide them through their days. 

Stephan briefly mentioned mental illness and how handing patients instruments can ground them and bring life back into their souls. 

"Depression happens when we are too burnt out."

As a yummymummy, I can relate to getting burnt out. Many times I need to put balance into my life, screwing guilt and taking some 'me' time to recharge and rejuvenate. I have been learning to respect my own space and boundaries. Stephan mentioned that when we do this, the children will feel this and respect it too. They are such brilliant beings, our children, our indigobabies.  

We then got to learn how to blow some horns and I was quite excited for this. Wind instruments are excellent because they bring us back to the "I", back to ourselves so we can feel our legs, breathe properly, wake up and feel alive. It is better than coffee and give us rosy cheeks!:P

We sang the Irish Blessing accompanied by Stephan on the piano and blended it into a round song. He then made us walk around while singing to listen to the different voices around us. It gave me chills and quieted my mind. 

It was healing.

Exactly what this frantic yummymummy needed on this drizzly morning. 

For the last game, we sat on the floor in a circle- the most social form. We rolled wooden balls across the floor to each other and it came to a point where it was a bit overwhelming, but fun. 

There was a wooden egg in the middle and when this was rolled strongly enough to hit someone, the participant had to stand up and sing. 

We shared songs, English and Filipino, laughed and cheered for our friends. 
The session ended with smiles on our faces and songs in our hearts. 

One-on-one sessions with parent and student were held after to make an anthroposophic diagnosis, suggests developmental interventions at home and in the school, including the musical instrument or music activity best suited to achieve the set goals.

July 2014 marks two decades of Manila Waldorf School's existence-- a giant leap from kindergarten classes in a garage to now having a beautiful campus offering K to 12 program in Timberland Heights, San Mateo Rizal. It is quite a drive up, but it sure is worth it!

For inquiries, please contact 

TEL: (632) 5707038 / (632) 5708138 / FAX: (632) 5708138/ MOBILE: 5467476

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