I had a wee break after the pre-conference workshops and was invited to a picnic by Charlene and Kit, two of the graduates from my ERS program. Charlene arrived to pick me up on the morning of the trip along with her mum and two of her mum’s sisters.

We drove up to FRIM and met up with Kit and found a great spot by a waterfall to unpack the goodies. Some of the other participants from the pre-conf gigs were having a guided tour with Rhonwyn and met us for lunch at the picnic spot. It was a lot of fun.

The rest of the group headed off to their next port of call and we wrapped up our time at FRIM and said goodbye to Kit.

I was then kidnapped and taken to a Karaoke bar in KL by Charlene, mum and sisters. More friends and sisters showed up once we we there. There was lots of Japanese food, Scotch Whisky and good times including some cheesy singing on my part.

Thank You Charlene and Family for making me laugh harder than I have in a long time.

Such Good Medicine.

The pre-conference success lifted us all the way to Port Dixon, the setting for the 4th Asian Rhythm Facilitator’s Conference. We landed with a van full of drums and an engine light warning us something was afoot on the dashboard. We would find out on the return home just what that was! Stay tuned!! We unloaded into the ballroom that would be our home for the next 3 days. Friday night was a welcome drum circle expertly facilitated by Samantha Yew one of the cornerstone members of this community followed by dinner.

The Keynote address from Mary Tolena who spoke about the various elements of energy art as a visual artist might identify was a powerful opening I was told. Sadly I missed it as a friend had just taken a phone call with some bad news and needed a little TLC.


Here is what followed Mary’s opening in the order which they happened over the next two days.

Catherine Lim – Laughter – The Inner-Child’s Freedom of Expression.
This session left the group smiling from ear to ear and was a hugely energetic way to begin the day. Laughter Yoga is a unique exercise routine that combines unconditional laughter with yoga breathing method (Pranayama). It is simulated as a physical exercise, whilst maintaining eye contact with others and promoting childlike playfulness which leads from fake to real and contagious laughter.

kat yoga

Abby Greene Bull – Found Sound Rhythm Circle
The Found Sound Rhythm Circle got our creative juices flowing as we discovered things in the room that made a sound – chairs, water bottles, windows, walls, the boom box stage – we also included sounds of the body and voice.  All of our discovered “instruments” were then used in creative rhythmic games that encouraged listening, interacting, connecting and grooving to the pulse.  Lots and lots of fun with Abby’s wonderful energy holding the space for creative joy.


Preet Kalsi – What is Therapy, What is Not?
This session identified and explored the elements of the music therapy process, the definition of therapy, the definition of music therapy, the elements of music, and the elements that enable a therapeutic processing outside of therapy but is not therapy as a clinical treatment. I had spent two days with Preet getting a much deeper insight and I am a huge fan of her work. ( We also got ot meet up again on Borneo…more in the next blog) Malaysia is blessed to have her here.


Paul John Dear – Nada Brahma: The World is Sound
I had come to this presentation with a seed of an idea which had it’s roots in my previous conference presentation in 2016 which was a mindful drumming session which opened up a door to emergent practice for me. With a group like this you can really let go of being the facilitator at a whole other level and had complete trust to the participants. They were already deeply entrained rhythmically and so need no guidance in that area. What would happen if I opened up a space for emergence and exploration? Well what happened was magical. I spoke a little about my previous experience at the ARFC#3 and about the Music Medicine Map. I did a short demonstration of the four elements and then encouraged an emergent piece from the silence, moving into Rhythm, the melody and finally Harmony. We went on a beautiful sound journey with all the elements being explored fully. The toning circle at the end will stay with me forever. Thank You to the Singing Bowl/Chime players ( Our silent platform) Stefano Baroni ( Body Music for our rhythm) Everyone for the singing ( Our Melody) and Kumi Masunaga (Strumstick for our Harmony).


Elizabeth Huxtable – Sound Therapy and the Voice as Healing Tools
John and Rhonwyn had put some thought into the order of play and our next presenter was the perfect close to the presentations for the Saturday. We learned about the principles of sound therapy and how it positively affects the autonomic nervous system. We got to look at how different sound tools such as singing bowls can be used at home for relaxation, facilitating meditation, clearing the environment, as well as releasing pain.


After dinner Elizabeth led us on a Sound Journey. Wrapped in a blanket and with a pillow for my head, I lay back on the floor and let go. What an experience. The Crystal Bowls were astonishingly resonant as was the Quartz Harp that was played over each of us individually. What really blew me away though was the ‘singing’…I have added quote marks here because singing does not do what happened justice. The voice that emerged was other-worldly and so deeply powerful. At this point my journey took a turn back towards my ancestors. Profound stuff. I spoke with Elizabeth later and shared my experience. She has worked with a number of voice-shamans and was interested to hear my experience. “It’s not my voice” she told me.

A late night for me meant a lie-in in the morning and so I missed my Dear friend Jim open the day. Sorry Jim 😦 ( I blame the sound healing…and the whisky!!)

Jim Boneau – Facilitating for Emotional Resonance
Jim set out to define and experience Moments of Emotional Resonance and unpack their impact on the individual and the group’s development.  He shared techniques to help the group be more intentional about creating Moments of Emotional Resonance in any rhythm event. Even though I was not present I know that Jim would have held the group in the way that only he can. With an enormous Heart.


Stefano Baroni – Rhythm, Melody, Emotions, Relationships
Having spent two days with Stefano at his pre-conference program there is not much more I can say. This guy knows how to connect up the dots and his sessions are always fun, engaging and inspiring. Once more Mr Baroni delivered the goods.


Jú Linares – “Beyond Fun: Program Design for Participant Learning and Client Results”
I knew of Ju but had never met her or seen her work. Here we learned a flexible 5-step structure that took us through stages of Awareness, Connection, Dialog, and Creativity.  The fifth stage was a culmination of the learning, a kind of “Performance,” where the client’s ( in this case ‘ours’) goals were fully highlighted.  Ju is an excellent presenter and a bundle of energy. This was a really fun presentation and I am so glad to have finally met her and spent some time with her.


John J Hagedorn, our host, was the next presenter with a talk about ‘The Map’ and the universal patterns therein. I had seen this presentation when it was born during the Village Music Circles TTT program. It blew me away. John delivered his presentation with his usual gusto and incisiveness. This guy knows how to give a presentation and put an amazing conference together ( along with Rhonwyn of course)


Aaron Kierbel – Sweet Rhythms
Aaron was a new name on the circuit for me and so I was interested to sit in on this closing presentation. It had culturally Specific drumming patterns and Chocolate!!


What not to like??? I was not disappointed. Some really tasty grooves with cultural reference points thrown in, along with chocolate to taste from the region where the music originated. A fantastic way to end the conference. Aaron did a great job and was a hugely engaging facilitator. Nice Work.

Group Photo time and a farewell dinner and we would be done.  A final night at the venue for the die-hards included a windy outdoor drum circle and a get together Chez Stefano..Fun times.



Lazy morning and the pack down and head back to KL or so we thought. Remember that engine warning light. It was now accompanied by a temperature warning and a drip under the chassis. Quick call to VW who assured us that topping up the water levels frequently would see us home. Top up we did and drive. Warning light. Stop.Top.Go.

All good until the Big Bang. Seriously a load bang and then the sound of metal landing on the road. Stop. Can’t Top. Water everywhere!! Walking back down the road I found a smallish flywheel that belong somewhere in the engine. End of this particular road for us. Thankfully we live in the age of technology and a few calls later everyone who needed to know knew and a tow truck was on it’s way. Nothing to do but sit in the convenient shade of a tree and wait.

One hour and some later we were at the VW garage and with some help from John’s wife Terri and Charlene, we unloaded and got everything back to Robson Heights.

Charlene had arranged to show Aaron a ‘Foodie’ street named Jalan Alor in KL and invited us all along for the evening.

Food!!!Good Company!!!Beers!!!

I’m in!! Good time was had by all.


It was done. Another sensational series produced by Team Hagedorn.

Time for some RnR and what better place for me and John to be than Borneo.

Coming up in the Next Blog……..Photo heaven so do not miss this one…..


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