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Monday 19 May 2008

Choosing your mother tongue.

The Language of Music by Susie Mallett 1979

As some readers know I am a British conductor living and working in Germany. I write my blog in my mother tongue, rather than in German or Hungarian, not only because this is easier for me but also because it is always a treat for me to communicate in English.

Having studied, lived and worked in Hungary or Germany since 1989 I have rarely had the opportunity to discuss or practise Conductive Education in English. My only real experiences of Conductive Education in English were in Dr Mária Hári’s lectures for the British trainees and through practice many years ago with two lovely English/Polish-speaking lads.

I am thoroughly enjoying the opportunity my blog gives me to communicate my ideas and report about my work in English. I do, however, realise that some of my readers are German and, in order to make it more accessible to them and to readers speaking other languages, I have introduced the Microsoft machine translator. You'll find it in the top right hand corner, under Diese Seite Übersetzen, which is "Translate this site" in German. It doesn't just do German. Click after where it says "Translator" to see the other languages available.

I discovered the translator on Andrew Sutton’s blog where readers can also use it to translate his blog - Conductive Education World.

I have tried the translator out and it produces a reasonable translation. It is rather formal in comparison to my own style of writing and there are, as one finds in most of these translating programmes, the humorous errors which are all part and parcel of the process.

It is good enough though to get the gist of the posting and gives readers the opportunity to dig further if they wish.


Andrew Sutton, Trying out new toy, Conductive Education World, 15 May 2008

Microsoft translator

Real and virtual helping hands

A House by Susie Mallett 1961

I apologise now if there is a lull in postings on my blog over the next few weeks.

The move is under way (see my blog Whoopee! of 26 April 2008). My old flat is empty except for a mattress on the floor. My clothes are in suitcases, and my laptop and office are on a make-shift packing-case table. The big clean up will now take place and hopefully by the end of the week I will be finished.

On Saturday a huge team of wonderful German friends and their acquaintances filled and emptied the hired van and brought my belongings into storage.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank them all but especially the four lads who I have never seen before and whose names I still do not know. They appeared in the street, out of neighbouring houses, and they worked so hard emptying the van in such an organised fashion that sometimes I just had to stand with open mouth and watch them.

A mention too for the mum of a friend who supplied the workers with lunch and also for the people sending positive thoughts and virtual helping hands from far-flung corners of the world, including England and New Zealand.

Begeistert yet again, this time overwhelmed not by my work but by the kindness of others.
A big "Thank you" to you all.


Begeistert – enthusiastic, ardent, zealous, rapt, excited, thrilled, glowing, avid, zesty, wowed

Sunday 11 May 2008

"Die Mütter! Mütter! – 's klingt so wunderlich... Das ist es auch.Göttinnen, ungekannt euch sterblichen"

My Mother and my Grandmother, Gt Yarmouth, Norfolk, 1927

Doch gibt’s ein Mittel..........Die Mütter sind es!
This quotation is from Goethe and is to be found at the beginning of a book written by Károly and Magda Ákos. This book, called Dina, has two parts, just like Goethe’s Faust in which these quotations can be found. I have known “Dina” since I was a student and it is the book that I recommend to all families who are just embarking on their conductive journey. I have been delving into it recently and reflecting on some of the things that Ákos and Ákos write about and on how I relate this to my work.

Mother's Day
My notes for the posting have been in my bag for a couple of weeks now. I twiddle with them while riding the ICE train to my work in Würzbürg but I have decided it is time to get them out of the bag and on to the blog as it is Mother's Day here in Germany, or will be by the time this is finished. What better day to post a blog about a book for mothers?

Many other countries share this Mother's Day. according to Wikipedia more than they do any other day of the year. In England this moveable feast is already long past, three weeks before Easter (March 2nd), in Norway it was in February and in Israel sometime between 30 January and 1st of March.

In my opinion every or any day should be a day for honouring mothers.

Anthropogenic Cooperation
In the preface to Dina Károly and Magda Ákos describe the capacity that a person has for adaption or learning that is needed constantly throughout life to adjust in all given situations. They describe the early development of this capacity and how it influences people's whole life. They explain how in dysfunctional people this capacity to adapt to new circumstances is not so advanced, or has been lost completely, or has never been learnt.

They state:

“Conductive Education strives to restore the missing ‘orthofunction’. This helps to overcome the dysfunction and the individual will gradually be socialised”

Ákos and Ákos go on to explain the necessity of “anthropogenic cooperation’ – an inter-cerebral relationship between two or more brains, that, they say, is

“...necessary for the development of the human ability for adaption”.

They state that this relationship is usually between a child and its mother, but it can be with anyone who is in close contact with the child.

In my work with adults we have the same inter-cerebral relationship between conductor and client. Within the group one sees the same kind of relationship developing between its members, all helping each other in the process of learning to adapt to their new situation. This unity between the clients in the group can often be so profound, so special, that the care, the interest and the motivation that they show each other produces an amazing working atmosphere, perfect for teaching goals and for being successful in reaching them.

Magic moments
This unity grows of course with the group, and it weaves its spell on newcomers too. No, it isn’t magic, although there were newspaper articles describing it as such when telling about the British trainee conductors setting off to the Petö Institute in the late eighties. They used headlines such as “Angels of mercy” and “Miracle workers” !

Conductive Education is far from being magic, it is hard work, something that my artist friend (see my blog, "Nicht auf zugeben", Monday, 14 April, 2008) will certainly testify. During our work together he has many a time turned to me with a quizzical look on his face and asked Zauberei? ( magic?) when he has achieved something for the first time. My answer –“If it is it is you who is working the magic”. He still finds it hard to believe that it is what he does that allows him to make magic which in turn allows him to produce the movements that he wishes to perform.

I know him well. I can advise him down to the last millimetre how to move his elbow so he can grasp his mug and when it works I must admit it can appear to be magic. Slowly this client is taking over this fine tuning of his movements, he is adapting, he is adjusting, learning to weave the spell in all areas of his life (see my blog "Plinths or parties, wall bars or hills and dales", Friday 11 April, 2008). He is learning because he developed "anthropogenic cooperation" with members of his family and with me, the conductor.

Cycles, circles, spirals
My work at the moment is mainly with adults, my “children” have all grown (conductively) up. They are now my teenagers. I also have groups for Parkinson’s disease, adult cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis and stroke, and there are also the babies and the toddlers just starting with their conductive upbringing. Slowly I am turning full circle and, when families with young children approach me, I recommend the book Dina to them as an introduction to Conductive Education, to guide them in their first steps of their conductive journey through life. The book is intended as a “practical manual for living”.

The extended family
At the very beginning of Dina is this quotation, from Goethe’s Faust, Part 2:

Doch gibt’s ein Mittel..........Die Mütter sind es!”

In the English version of Dina this is translated as:

“There is a way…. the mothers!”

I would change this slightly and say that there is a way – it is the extended family. If you have been following my blog you will realize that a lot of my work takes place in the heart of the family.

Only relatively few people have the privilege of living near enough to a Conductive Education centre to allow a child to attend daily. As a student at the Petö Institute I had met many families from all over the world who had separated from a spouse or other children for weeks or months on end in order to provide Conductive Education for their child with disabilities. This was often a very difficult and disruptive time for the families.

Although Conductive Education is generally carried out in groups it is essentially an upbringing, and the early years of a child’s upbringing takes place in the home.

When I began working in Germany I saw the dilemma that families were facing – should they travel to Budapest or to a far-off German conductive centre, or begin a conductive upbringing at home? I began to work within the family unit 15 years ago. I wanted to work with the very young children in their own homes, surrounded by everyone who was familiar to them, including grandmas and grandads, brothers and sisters, Mum and Dad, and neighbours and friends – the extended family. Every one of these people then learns, at the same time as does the child, how to channel the child’s activities in the way necessary for physical and mental development. The child is in a familiar environment and it is this environment which must be conquered first, before moving further afield (to Kindergarten, to school or to study).

Most of my clients have at sometime in their childhood attended a conductive group, often a summer camp. I have often advised this so that the child is not always so isolated and can begin learning to interact with other children. The experience of attending a conductive group is also invaluable for the parents who can make contact with other families and build up a support network. They discover that they are not alone on their chosen conductive paths.

Choosing of the conductive path is not the most difficult step. Actually following it is more difficult and turning it into a life-style for the whole family requires a lot of energy. Meeting other families in similar situations can be a help but I think that families need something more concrete. This is why, early in my conductive career, I decided that I would offer to work with the whole family within the framework of the home, and work towards developing a conductive life-style/upbringing for the child. In my experience this method works very well. The only disadvantage is that, as only one of two self-employed conductors working in this way in the whole of Germany, I can reach only a small portion of the families who need this guidance.

Some of these families I have grown with over the course of years, some are still growing. Others I worked with for only a few weeks or a few months. In all cases we achieved what was best for the child and the family at the time. They all learnt what they needed for their development at that given moment. Some families go on to chose a different way, but most continued with a conductive upbringing with or without my physical presence in the home. Often my presence has continued for years through telephone calls and emails!

Károly and Magda Ákos have explained in Dina how some mothers (families) "naturally" have the ability to provide the learning situation for their disabled child, especially when there are more siblings from whom the mother can learn, but most need more expert guidance. The "instinctive" behaviour of a normal child no longer works with a child with a dysfunction.
Normally a baby naturally begins to show a mother (family member) what it needs, whether this is to be fed, to have a clean nappy or a more interesting toy the whole family responds instinctively to these needs, for example a baby who grabs and pulls a sibling's hair may be given a toy with something to grasp and pull instead.

These first stages of development occur between the baby and the mother (family).Dina states that the infant with a disability

“...does not need treatment to over come his dysfunction, instead the mother needs competent help to enable her to establish “anthropogenic cooperation” with the infant in spite of the difficulties resulting from brain damage. This is why the infant can catch up with the normal development.” ( page 2)

Ákos and Ákos also wrote that it is important for the mother to be aware of her ability to initiate the child’s personality development. When she understands this:

“...she can with very little instruction overcome the baby’s interrupted personality growth and also reduce the symptoms of movement disorder”. ( page 5)

A healthy child will trigger a mother's desire to play together. When development is dysfunctional these unconscious reactions to the baby’s behaviour need to be made conscious:

“ Without instruction a mother will unconsciously neglect the mother child cooperation necessary for the physical and mental development of a handicapped child.” ( page 10)

As well as recommending Dina as an introductory book to Conductive Education, I also recommend that the child attends a mother-and-child group when possible but what happens for the family who live in a village 60 kilometres from the nearest town and 200 kilometres from the nearest CE centre, or the families who are not able to follow the method described in Dina? I hope that this is where I can step in, where my work can begin, guiding the child and the mother (family) on to an interesting, magic, soul-enriching, exciting and often difficult conductive journey.

To all mothers out there: you are not alone.

I do not agree one hundred percent with what Mephistopheles said to Faust, that the way is through the mothers alone. I believe the way to be through the extended family. It is through the Kindergarten, the school and the university. It is through the driving-instructor, the piano-teacher and the football-trainer, and through the guidance of a conductor.

I believe that, Mephistopheles was sending Faust to mothers to discover more about the feminine side of the human character. Perhaps it was this that Ákos and Ákos were referring to when they quoted Goethe at the beginning of Dina, that all the qualities shown by a mother are needed in all the people who come in contact with the disabled child, in order to provide everything necessary for the child’s normal development shown – in order for the child to begin to weave some of that magic.

In my posting “And back to the Seele” (Sunday 20 April, 2008), I wrote about discovering the Seele, the soul. Maybe this is what Faust was searching for, how to get in contact with his soul and maybe this is the quality that mothers have that produces the unity, the anthropogenic cooperation which, as Ákos and Ákos wrote “ is necessary for the development of the human ability for adaption".


Mephistopheles talking with Faust

“Die Mütter! Mütter! –'s klingt so wunderlich.“ ... Das ist es auch. Göttinnen, ungekannt euch sterblich....“ (“The Mothers!-Mothers!- that sounds so strange”…So it is, goddesses unknown to man….”). Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Faust, Part Two, 6218

“Doch gibt’s ein Mittel... Die Mütter sind es!“ (“There is a way... the mothers.”). Wolfgang Goethe, Faust, Part Two, 6211 and 6216

Dina - Ákos and Ákos

Károly Ákos was a physician and his wife Magda worked as his assistant. His daughter Kis Magda was a group leader at the Petö Institute. He and his wife wrote in Hungarian, and also in English and German. Károly Ákos first met András Petö in 1948 and came to admire some (though not all) of hs ideas. After Petö’s death in 1968 Ákos was offered the position of Director of the State Institute. He declined butwent on to co-write the book Conductive Education together with Dr Mária Hária who later became the Director of the Institute.

Mother's Day

ICE train

Conductive Education

Mária Hári and Károly Ákos, Routledge, 1988.

Previus postings of relevance

"Nicht auf zugeben", Monday, 14 April, 2008
"Plinths or parties, wall bars or hills and dales ", Friday 11 April, 2008
"And Back to the Seele", Sunday 20th April, 2008

“After I had discovered CE and gone on to study at the Petö Institute I made many more discoveries. The most important of these was discovering what I now call my soul…I discovered that I was absorbing Conductive Education not only through my brain, but also through my body, something like osmosis, and it seeped deep into my inner self, into my Seele. "

“Not all teachers, therapists and other “people professionals” find the path leading to a full conductor-training in Budapest. Do they then ever find the means to do the job they are appointed for? Do they discover their Seele?”

Anthropogenic Cooperation -an inter-cerebral relationship between two or more brains,Ákos/Ákos, Dina.

Wednesday 7 May 2008

Eight Danube Bridges

Eight British trainee conductors meet Princess Diana
Budapest, March 1992

Below are two poems that I just found amongst my old Conductive Education papers. I am not quite sure exactly who wrote them, I don’t remember. Most certainly they were written by the students from the then Birmingham Institute for Conductive Education (now the National Institute for Conductive Education, 'NICE'), who were studying in Budapest between 1989 and 1993. I was one of these students (that's me on the left of the picture), and quite possibly one of the poets!

At the top of the paper it says “Could be sung to the tune of Twelve Days of Christmas”, so feel free to sing along!

First Impressions....

On my twelfth day in Budapest my true love sent to me

12 bus tickets
11 picture postcards
10 lovers snogging
9 buskers busking
8 Danube bridges
7 téssek ladies
6 flights of stairs
5 bobble hats
4 chocolate ice creams
3 tram bells
2 dobos torta
and a lung full of carbon monoxide

Lasting realities

12 dogs barking
11 waiters fiddling
10 buses heaving
9 apples rotting
8 taxis screeching
7 worthless filler
6 stern ladies
5 hours waiting
4 reels of red tape
3 grumpy faces
2 pockets picked
and a therapeutic trip to Vienna

I suspect that I had something to do with creating these as Téssek ladies are mentioned. I believe this term for the ladies in the streets selling everything under the sun, but especially flowers, was my invention, and the chocolate ice creams most certainly come from my Budapest flat mate.

The weekends in Vienna were the therapy of a few of the others. My weekend therapy was steaming at the Gellert Thermal Baths and afterwards hot chocolate and a brioche with the Sunday Times in a book shop.

Lovers snogging, that amused us all, they were abundant on every underground escalator and along the banks of the Danube (they probably had nowhere else to go).

Picture postcards could possibly be refering to the wonderful experience that I had at a postcard auction, bidding for a selection of postcards depicting trams and trains.

Dobos torta were the favourite of another of the students and I think we all carried at least one of these amazing creations home with us to the UK during the four years of our training.

Dogs barking, we all experienced, as we all had flats in Buda. The new houses up in the Buda Hills all had their guard dog and at around 10 p.m. one would start, then one by one all others joined in till by midnight there was a chorus of barking dogs.

Hours waiting, that is something that we all experienced. We had to enrol ourselves at so many offices it was unbelievable. In the first year we had to sign in at the police station and each year we had to get our residency permits. This took hours and one of us would join the queue at seven in the morning and we would relieve each other till we all returned when one had finally reached the front, sometimes then to be told that we had to join a different queue or go to a different office!

Filler were one hundredth of a Forint. They disappeared from circulation soon after we finished our training, in 1993. I kept a tin full of them beside the front door and my niece would take a handful out with her each day to give to the “beggars begging”.

Trams and their bells, were of course a novelty for us. I loved to travel over the Margaret Bridge at night on a bright yellow tram and see the illuminated Chain Bridge.

The strips of bus tickets were a new experience too as there were no bus conductors in Budapest! It took a while before we remembered to stamp our ticket for each journey. At that time it was still possible to play the dumb foreigner, as so few Hungarians spoke English, but things have changed and this year I found that ticket control on the underground was very strict for everyone.

Grumpy faces usually belonged to the people who had the reels of red tape. It was these grumpy faces who told us, as we neared the front of the queue after hours of waiting, that the red tape required us to go somewhere else, which we promptly did in a screeching taxi!

Buses heaving. This probably refers to their being full to overflowing, struggling up the Buda hills while puffing out their poisonous gases. This was especially dangerous when I was struggling up the hill behind a bus, on my bike! (I took to wearing a mask as cyclists in China do).

I never personally experienced a waiter fiddling, only the gypsy violinists serenading the guests. I did however see pockets being picked in Vaci Utca and frequent chases after the thief along the banks of the Danube .

A more detailed account of student days in Budapest will be posted one day. It has to stay in the queue with the many others ideas and notes waiting to be typed up. This is just a starter for ten, a glimpse into the life of the British students training to be conductors in Budapest, 1989-1993.


Three groups of British students went to Budapest from the Foundation for Conductive Education to study at the Petö Institute between 1987 and 1993.

Princess Diana was Patron of the Foundation from December 1990 to July 1996 . Eight of the foundation's trainee students can be see on the photograph talking to Princess Diana after her visit to the Petö Institute in March 1992. Her visit lifted the hearts of the students, children and parents of all nationalities, not just those of the flag-waving Brits pictured here.

Monday 5 May 2008

Speaker's Corner

"Soul Searching", 2003, by Susie Mallett

Are we creating the Conductive Poet’s Corner (or is it the Poet’s Conductive Corner or even the Conductor/Poet’s Corner)? Are we following in András Petö’s footsteps, not only through ”conducting”, but also by learning , as I suspect Petö knew, how to express ourselves and describe the feeling of Conductive Education through poetry. Maybe through reading it or through writing it, we can get in touch with our own innermost selves and that of others. We can discover the importance of the “conductive Seele” and be able to be more successful in our work with people. Could this be what made Petö so successful in developing his work and his institute, could it be his poetry and play-writing?

Despite what many describe as his strictness, I believe that Petö knew how to get into contact with the inner depths of the people he was working with. He knew about the Seele. He wrote about this extensively in his book "Unfug der Krnakheit -Triumph der Heilkunst".

When I speak of creation of a "Conductive Poet’s Corner" I am referring to Andrew Sutton’s latest blog where he states that poetry has the power to move people emotionally, just as Conductive Education has the power to do just the same. People reading poetry expect to find a bit of Seele on show and people who write it often do so to express their deepest emotions. Reading or writing poetry one gets in touch with emotions that would not perhaps be otherwise revealed or discussed so openly.

I often mention the Conductive Seele in my blog and I wonder whether maybe poetry really is a way to reach a wider readership and to get across that feeling of what Conductive Education/ conductive upbringing really are.

Poetic practice
I have been using poetry "conductively" in my work for many years, especially in my Multiple Sclerosis groups. In 2000 I began an MS group in Nürnberg. The majority of this group were artistically inclined, musicians and artists and poets, and an English teacher. This developed into a very unified, motivated group, which gave me the perfect opportunity for experimentation in the last half-hour of the programme. This was the time when we stopped the exercising and played games while enjoying a cup of tea , created paper sculpture or had self-made origami boat races in a bowl of water on the table. It was a time when we would paint group pictures of island cities and discuss what it would be like to live there. We would create objects from glittery pipe cleaners and explain their obscure uses to the rest of the group. Often I would dictate poetry from Goethe, Schiller and sometimes Ringelnatz in order to practise writing skills, listening skills and concentration.

I found this piece about Schiller in the Internet, it could be something that András Petö himself could have written about any one of his various interests, including Conductive Education.

Friedrich von Schiller 1759 -1805
Leading German 18th-century dramatist, poet, and literary theorist. Schiller's mature plays examine the inward freedom of the soul; his first play The Robbers (1781) was a landmark in German theatrical history and spoke of the ideas of liberty. According to Schiller, a play is not a means to enjoyment; it is the very thing enjoyed. Aesthetic education is necessary, he argued, not only for the proper balance of the individual soul, but for the harmonious development of society.

Instead of me dictating a poem , or sometimes afterwards, the group would create one of its own, often influenced by the style and contents of one they had just heard but sometimes not at all.

These poems were rarely about Conductive Education, there were many themes. They were sometimes very jolly, taking on the Ringelnatz style, sometimes serious and “Goetheresque”. It depended a lot on which group member threw in the title or the first line, on the day of the week and on who was present in the group. The style of the poem depended on how difficult it was for people to express themselves and who created the previous line that they must follow. Some clients mentioned the conductors and others the weather. Some talked about the hard work or joked about their movements. Some were very serious and struggled to take an active part. It was all part and parcel of the programme and how the personalities in the group interacted with each other. They offered encouragement, even literary criticism. Discussion often continued after a poem was concluded, themes mentioned during its creation being taken up again.

I collected the poems, but no one else was really interested in the finished product. It was the process of working together that was important, the relating to each other, the themes we touched on, the wish to get a deeper understanding of each other. It was the attempt to reach each other’s Seeles that was important.

Some poems from the group expressed the joy at the coming of spring and being able to sit outside again after a long winter, some were full of woes and sorrow, some were just fun.
The one below is one of only three that actually mentioned Conductive Education. I have translated it just as Andrew Sutton translated the poem in his Mayday blog , literally and in prose. I agree with him that this is the ideal way, so that readers can make up their own minds about what was meant.

25th July 2002

Tunnel haben etwas positives-
Am Ende wartet das Licht.
Sich' nah sein hat nicht unbedingt etwas mit Entfernung zu tun.

Da sitzen wir in diese Runde
Und sagen wir aus einem Munde
Komme ich zur sicht-oder nicht
Und bringe meine Gedanken der ansicht-
Und damit hat es sich.

Jappa dappa du
Gunther was sagst' du?
Die Therapie am heutigen Tage
War für manche eine Plage.
Susie sagt es tut mir leid
Aber dadurch bringe Euch recht weit.

Nächste Woche wird es schon besser,
dann wir haben auch besseres Wetter.
Konduktive Förderung
Es wär wichtig zur erörterung
Dass man einmal sagen tut
Das mitmachen erfordert schon viel Mut.

Linkes Bein zur rechten Nase
Rechtes Ohr zum linken Knie
Das schafft vielleicht kein Hase
aber saget nicht ihr schafft das nie.

Wenn die harte arbeit ist getan
Und die Konduktoren sagt Wir können fahren
Da gibt's kein Jammern und kein Weh
Erst wenn sie das sagt
Dann gibt's einen Tee.

Tunnels have something positive, there is a light waiting at the end. To be close has not necessarily got something to do with distance.

Here we sit in the circle, and we say with one voice do I get to come to word or to bring my thoughts to an opinion? So that is that. Jabba dabba do Günther what do you say? The therapy, it was for some a torment today.

Susie says “I am sorry, but through it we can go far”. Next week it will be better; then we will have better weather.

Conductive Education' it is important to this discussion that one must say just once that taking part requires a lot of courage.

Left leg to right nose, right ear to left heel. There may not be a single rabbit that can do that, but never say that you will never achieve it.

When the hard work is over and the conductors say we can drive home there is no moaning and no pain, especially when they also say “Now for some tea”.

I can look at this poem and I can visualise the setting in which is was created. I can guess at which group members said what and I can see how the style reflects how each one of them lives with their condition: living each day for today, to the full and with pleasure, or maybe joking a way through life in order to live with the uncertainty of MS, maybe also living through some negative times, depressed and relying on the group for much-needed support. This and more would be expressed in our poems and later discussed as the tea was finished and the biscuits passed round!

It was and still is a part of our conductive programme, all of which is possible when the “conductive atmosphere” is just right.


Seele – soul
Unfug der Krankheit -Triumph der Heilkunst. Dr. med. Karl Otto Bärnklau
Saturday 3rd May
Poetry in Motion

“I'm not referring here to moving arms and legs (and to measuring this) but to the power to move people emotionally. It a common enough observation that those who experience Conductive Education are moved by what they have seen and done. At times too it has felt that the world might be changed. Oh, people, there really have been days when it has been bliss, very heaven, like that distant Mayday felt by Gyula Juház (as shows through even my prosaic translation).

But mere prose, the ’literature’ of Conductive Education rarely if ever puts this across to those who have never felt that way, even though feeling that way is the very essence of Conductive Education. Poetry is one way to convey this.”


Thursday 1 May 2008

I nearly danced on the table “à la Dr Hári”!

Concentration by Susie Mallett, January 2005

Mini versus Stretch
The stretch jeans and not the mini, it was the perfect choice. Even before I set off for Würzburg I had considered that, if got the chance to jump up on the table “à la Dr Mária Hári” to demonstrate the tasks, then I would take it! Hence no mini-skirt.

Dr Hári apparently did this often, jumping on tables, but not wearing mini skirts. Sadly, I only experienced it once, which was when she taught us Conductive Pedagogy in our crowded lecture hall, but I believe she did it on more public occasions when presenting papers abroad. Did anyone out there experience this?

Back to the point.
I was in Würzburg to present "Conductive Education" to members of the Parkinson’s Disease Self-Help Group, Würzburg, at their monthly meeting. This took place in a very posh hotel, with white-clothed tables and, although the opportunity did actually arise and I had already kicked off my shoes, I was not allowed to “dance on the tables!” A few straight faces in the audience vetoed it! Never mind, as ever the spontaneous, flexible, conductor, I remained shoeless and found myself a space on the floor in the middle of the white-clothed tables and carried on regardless.

Forty Winks
I was surprisingly calm before giving this presentation, probably because I had had no time to think. I finished my work in Nürnberg, changed from white clothes to black (the stretch jeans), then jumped into a taxi for the 15-kilometre ride to the station so I could catch the ICE train to Würzburg. All achieved in a record 40 minutes! No time at all to be nervous... I even had forty winks on the train.

Apart from a couple of stutters at the beginning all went well.
The crowd of 60 was larger than I had expected, all sitting at long tables across the room, sipping coffee and eating cake. I had been at a similar meeting a few weeks ago in Ingolstadt where it had been difficult to get the attention away from the victuals. Here it was no problem. I was introduced, I invited the audience to turn their chairs to the face the front, to avoid cricked necks, and off we went on a journey through “Conductive Education”.

On being foreign
Sometimes in my work my “odd” accent is a benefit and I think this was the case today, everyone was concentrating and all eyes were on me. No one seemed to have switched off, either because of medicine or interest! We actually had fun.

I told them about Dr András Petö and his diverse interests and how he started up his institute in Budapest. I told them about myself and my diverse interests and how I came to study at this institute. I told them about my work as a conductor and the importance of the healthy Seele that lightens the heart and therefore the movements. I explained the structure of the programme and the tasks specifically for Parkinson’s disease.

Ground tasks
Eventually I felt I had talked enough about the theory and that is when I wanted to jump up on the table and do some tasks with the group. Alas it was not allowed!
So, as I have already said, I stayedgrounded.

Anyone who was at this point not switched on woke up immediately. Every single person in the room joined in the tasks, potential clients and their carers/partners alike. Arms and legs, eyebrows and heads moving in all directions to the count of "Eins, zwei, drei, vier, fünf"!

They evidently understood the lady with the strange accent and I hope a few had their interest raised enough to visit and possibly join our group.

I was fit to drop when it was over, but I had experienced yet another wonderful day at “work”. I am beginning to enjoy “spreading the word”!


I had been working with my stroke group in Nürnberg before I jetted off to Würzburg. I had considered the day doomed when at five minutes to nine only half the group had arrived (they had forgotten we were starting half an hour earlier because of my trip). I started the lying programme regardless and the others slowly filtered in and took their places. Somehow we all managed to turn it into the best day of the 3-week block, it was also the last until we meet again in July. Everybody was successfully achieving new goals.

We had a guest watching and a new client taking part, which might also have had a negative influence after the slow start, but it didn’t. The atmosphere was amazing, absolutely buzzing. It was motivating, unified, relaxed and cheerful. Healthy Seeles all round. It was the perfect way for me to set off on my journey and for my clients to get back to their daily lives.


Deutsche Parkinson Vereinigung Regionalgruppe e.V

ICE (Inter City Express ). ICE 3 (classes 403 and 406)

Forty winks


Eins, zwei, drei, vier, fünf - one, two, three, four, five

Seele - soul

May Day in Budapest

Building yet to be renovated near Moszkva Tér, Budapest, 2008

It is a holiday here in Germany, we don't have to wait until Monday, as in England, to have a break from work. I am sorting files and papers while preparing for my move, it takes ages because I get bogged down reading everything. While doing just that I found a yellowing scrap of paper with the following written on it. I probably penned it on the number 4 tram in the vicinity of Margit Híd, crossing the Danube. It seemed appropriate to post it today.

May Day in Budapest

Moszkva Tér out in force
Téssek nénis and men of course.
All selling flowers on this holiday
As many Magyars make their way
To visit friends, to sit in the sun,
Palatinusz is open, oh what fun.

Over the years nothing has changed,
Perhaps on the surface, but the spirit remains.
Up to the castle away from the grime,
From noisy buses and the rush for time.
It's a tourist place, but only the centre,
Walk a few streets and a different world you can enter.

Thoughts of scenes from the books I have read,
How many invasions and how many dead?
The bullet holes still can be seen,
Talk to some people and information I glean.
What happened in the war?
In '56 came something more.

Hungary now a land of peace,
My amazement will never cease,
When I look up at this hard working folk
Their fight to survive tears does evoke.
What happened in the years long past
Leaves a mark that, of course, will last.

The strength of Hungarians, and their pride,
Is usually only seen from the inside.
What a privilege it has been
For me this side to have seen.
Hungarians welcome me into their lives,
For me this is the reason why I survived.

The loneliness in a foreign land,
Is easier with a friendly hand.
For this I will always be in debt
As now I return with no regrets.
I know that here I leave my heart
When, for home, I make a start.

Susie Mallett 1st May 1993


Márgit Híd: híd - bridge

Téssek Nénis: this is a name I invented while living in Hungary, 1989-93, for the people who stand in the squares and street corners, selling their wares and crying " Téssek, téssek ....." tempting people to buy, téssek meaning please or kindly.

The Hungarian Revolution, 1956