It was the most interesting congress that I have attended in Germany since the one in 1997 in Hamburg and it was the biggest event that the German association for conductors has co-organised since it was founded in 1998. I think everyone would say that socially and organisationally it was a great success.
There were at least 180 people present from all over Europe, from Germany, Austria, Ireland, Sweden, and of course many from Hungary and there were at least 40 presentations and speeches from politicians, conductors, users of Conductive Education and parents of users, pedagogues, therapists, doctors and professors.
The congress took place at the Holiday Inn Hotel in the centre of Munich but we could have been anywhere in the world. At a gathering of conductors and interested parties the dominate language is always Hungarian ,with a scattering of English and of course in this case a lot of German.
At the hotel there were three rooms available for the various presentations and these were connected by meeting spots where there was a continuous supply of drinks and delicious food.
It was probably at these high bistro tables that the most work was done, where ideas were exchanged and plans for the future hatched, often inspired by the interesting presentations.
After arriving on Friday lunchtime and eating our fill it was straight into the opening speeches and presentations.
We were greeted by the co-organisers and Mr. B. Silbers, the Bavarian State Minister for Education and Arts, who was surprisingly the only person I heard all weekend apart from Dr Franz Schaffhauser, the director of the Petö Institute, who even mentioned a conductive upbringing.
The introductions were followed by two of several research projects that we heard over the weekend. Personally I think it would have been more appropriate to have been introduced to Dr Schaffhauser at this point in the proceedings, at the opening of the congress, instead of in a parallel session on Saturday afternoon.
To close the day was a podium discussion moderated by the gorgeous Dr A. Kuhnemann, a doctor and a moderator on Bavarian Television, dressed in purple! (see posting March 9th 2008). She tried to keep in order a very lively audience and a less volatile group on the podium that included representatives of the Bavarian government, a health insurance company, the Petö Institute, and the joint organisers of the congress Pfennigparade school and the association of conductors. It was from the mouth of the elegant Fr. Dr. Kuhnemann that I heard the nearest reference to the conductive Seele, she actually called it the conductive heart.
Coincidently it was during this discussion that one of the Hungarians present mentioned the Sechenyi chain bridge in relation to the forming of links and working together at this “Conductive Education builds bridges” congress. It is one of the bridges over the Danube which I mentioned in my previous posting when I talked about my idea that just perhaps this congress might succeed in spanning divides in the Conductive Education world in Germany.
Brezen, beer and umpah band
On Friday evening we were again presented with an array of delicious food and entertained by a very Bavarian music group that got our feet tapping and our hands clapping, and even had a few people fox-trotting on the dance floor. The majority of us of course could hardly understand a word they sang about, Bayrisch being a language all of its own, but nevertheless the rhythm was infectious and got us swinging the mugs of beer!
In a break in the entertainment, which later included impro-theatre and more music, the 16 newly qualified pedagogic-therapeutic-conductors (PTKs) received their certificates in an emotional ceremony. It was mentioned by one of the conductors who teaches on this course that another 16 links have been added to the chain which is uniting Conductive Education throughout Germany. This is almost as many PTK’s finishing the course this year as there are conductors in what is probably the biggest centre offering Conductive Education in Germany, Fortschritt Verein, Starnberg.
On Saturday there were even more people present at the congress and I met up with many old friends and acquaintances, I was able to put faces to many names I have heard regularly in connection with Conductive Education over the years and introduce myself to some of these.
One of my greatest pleasures was meeting Simon von Quadt, he had been one of the German children attending the Petö Institute when I was training there and here he was at twenty-three presenting us with a picture of his own conductive upbringing at the congress, alongside his dad, Peter, who founded the first and biggest parent-initiated centre in Germany, in 1994. This absolutely charming, trilingual young man was an inspiration to us all, he showed us what a true conductive upbringing could do and not only had he attended conductive groups at the Institute in Budapest he had learnt fluent English and Hungarian. We got together after his presentation and hatched some plans for the future.
I met many people from other centres where I have worked in Germany and parents of children I knew in Hungary. One conductor suddenly appeared beside me who had been a student with me in the spina bifida group at the Petö Institute in 1989 and we hadn’t seen each other since. We recognised each other instantly.
I was introduced to Professor Karin Weber who in my opinion is the most elegant and most sophisticated person involved in Conductive Education in Germany. I also reintroduced myself to Helga Keil, having last seen her at her institute in Vienna in 1992, which is too long ago for either of us to remember each other, and I was really pleased to meet her colleague Bettina Tauscher.
I met Anita Tatlow from Ireland/Hong Kong and discussed ideas with her for the next World Congress in 2010 and I met for the second time Dr Franz Schaffhauser and got to know his charming wife with whom I practised my Hungarian in readiness for next week’s visit to Hungary!
I enjoyed having time to chat socially with my colleagues from Würzburg, where I have been working regularly this year with the aim to set up regular adults, groups.
On Saturday evening those of us who were staying until Sunday to take part in the various meetings all met for a social evening in a restaurant in the city where, in a smaller group, we had the chance to get to know each other a bit better and relax after the hectic programme of the past two days. We ate and drank and made merry but unfortunately there was no Unicum on offer.
The highlight of the weekend, well actually the icing on the cake, was spending three whole days with my friend and colleague Raphaela Roß, we chatted and giggled like teenagers in our free moments, discussed our work and our plans for the future and during the breaks we critically discussed the presentations that we had just heard. Raphaela was the first German to train to be a conductor at the National Institute for Conductive Education in Birmingham and is the only German conductor working in Germany at the moment. At the meeting of the association for conductors Raphaela was voted on to the committee of the the European Conductors Assocation which has representatives from Germany, Austria, and Sweden and England.
Dr A. Kuhnemann
Bundesverband Verband der in Deutschland tätigen KonduktorInnen e.V
Professor Karin Weber
National Institute for Conductive Education