Remembering Lisa Parker (part 2)
On October 7, 2022, we lost an extremely valuable and inspirational member of our community, Lisa Parker. Many people from around the country and the world have special memories of their time with Lisa, as her work touched many of us.
Earlier this year, the DSA called for memories of Lisa to be shared with our community in the Spring 2023 edition of Dalcroze Connections. Unfortunately, space limitations prevented us from publishing all the reflections we received in Lisa’s honor (we received over 7,600 words!). Thus, those not printed in Part One of the Lisa Parker memories in Dalcroze Connections can be found here.
The last time I saw Lisa in person was in 2017 at the ICDS 3 in Quebec at Laval University where we talked about a recent trip she had made to Cuba with her daughter. Up to 2020 we exchanged emails once in a while.
I had the opportunity to experience Dalcroze eurhythmics with Lisa only in a few occasions during international weeks at the Marta Sanchez Dalcroze Training Center at CMU, at the DSA National Conference in Colorado, and at the 2015 International Conference at the Institut Jaques-Dalcroze in Geneva. During that time, I worked with her during the study days previous to the conference. We had a dynamic discussion group were we talked about the challenges we faced in the certification and license training programs in different countries .
Lisa was a versatile pedagogue who could masterfully teach students of all levels of musicianship and from a wide age range. Even though I was unable to work with Lisa in a systematic way, I have learned a great deal from her by carefully analyzing her recorded masterclasses and interviews. Those recordings are a valuable source of inspiration and knowledge in all the branches of Dalcroze eurhythmics practice.
Besides being a first class musician and pedagogue, Lisa was a beautiful human being who truly shared her passion for music and teaching. Her contributions to Dalcroze eurhythmics will live for many years through her numerous generations of students in the US and abroad.Elda Nelly Treviño
The generosity, joy, inventiveness, artistry, support, and energy quality in Lisa’s improvisations leading a class deeply changed and nourished me as a performer (and a human). The same qualities, with each individual’s own voice of course, radiate through the music of the other teachers who studied with Lisa and built the program at Longy as I experienced it. Thank you Lisa for this living, continuing spark of deep humanity and powerful music.Sylvia Schwartz
I met Lisa when I was studying at Longy for my master’s degree in Dalcroze. I hope this short memory with Lisa will help honor this wonderful teacher. Thanks very much.
Lisa is a very inspiring and supportive teacher. I remember in an improvisation mid-term exam, I designed a class activity about duration. When students hear a low and long sound in the piano, they will pretend to shake the tree. My classmates pretended to be my students. I was not sure about the activity and the improvised music I played. I always had the feeling that Lisa can read student’s minds. At that time I was playing the music with very little confidence, and Lisa stood up and joined the group. She said, “I am going to be that tree.” I suddenly felt so fun to play the music and forgot all about the nervousness and doubts about my music.
I always remember Lisa told me to try to have faith in myself and have faith in my students. I changed my thoughts about making mistakes: they are a chance to learn and to grow. Lisa also gave me much courage to keep exploring, keep making mistakes, and keep discovering. Even though she is not with us now, I still feel she is around. Her energy is still with me in some way.Fan Lin
Lisa Parker and my relationship started when she hired me to teach a comprehensive movement course for her eurhythmics trainees at the Longy School of Music. We quickly became friends, and as I devoted more and more time to my own learning, she became a teacher and mentor. She was, I think, uniquely able to embody such a complex and multifaceted relationship. Not that it was conflict-free, but it was able to sustain a fundamental level of love and respect.
Lisa and I were also colleagues in a children’s theater troupe called Music Alive, which performed original shows for children in public schools in the Boston area. One of the shows was Curious George Goes To Music School. Lisa was the conductor and director of the music school, and I was Curious George, the monkey who kept getting lost and getting in trouble.
For my faculty recital at Longy, I asked Lisa to play an improvised piano take on a Bach chorale, in the style of Stravinsky. It was brilliant. She was an amazing improviser. I am so grateful to have found Lisa and the world of eurhythmics.Dawn Pratson
My dearest, the only Lisa Parker,
First of all, I miss you greatly. It is a huge loss for the Dalcroze community indeed. I cannot believe that you decided to depart so quickly. But at the same time, I completely understood why you decided to depart so quickly. I am not too sad because I know that you have no struggle now. I hope that you are enjoying mingling with friends in the other world.
I sometimes still hear your voice. I am so grateful to have you as my mentor. Without your support, I do not exist. I appreciate everything you have done for me. You are such a precious soul that I feel so lucky to be able to embrace all the memories we had together. I was super lucky!
Love you so dearly, and miss you so much! May I ask you a big favor? Could you please keep guiding me to be a better one as you always did for me?
Before I got into further studies in teaching music, I was limited in sharing the basic elements of music and its effectiveness. Lisa Parker opened my world of endless possibilities to share and lead a very effective music classes and yet fun and engageable for both children and adults and even seniors.
Attending two years of summer in the mid-2000s at Longy is one of the best highlights of my education. Lisa was instrumental in transforming me to what I am right now as a teacher. Her extraordinary talent and skills that reflected her whole being inspired me to do better. I am so lucky enough to have been mentored by Lisa.Nobel Gabasan
Lisa’s influence and her presence stay vibrant in my heart. I did not just learn about Dalcroze from her – she has inspired me to develop a personal embodied relationship with music. I feel truly blessed and grateful to have been under her wings for the years in the Longy community. For me, It feels like the mentorship continues in my inner space, for Lisa is only a thought away.Cheng-Feng Lin
Lisa loved people, teaching Dalcroze, and was an extraordinary improviser !
We would leave her classes bathed in knowledge and happiness !Linda Gatzke
Lisa was a remarkable Dalcroze teacher. A eurhythmics class with her was a joyful adventure that seemed to flow effortlessly from one activity to another. We seldom knew what was coming next, but we were ready and eager to find out. Delivering just the right thing at exactly the right moment, Lisa masterfully changed what appeared to be a straightforward, linear experience into a deep and abiding connection to the music at hand.
Lisa’s instructions were succinct and well-considered. Talking was superfluous because she was incredibly attentive and aware of everything going on in the room. She molded her music to fit the moment, regardless of what she had planned, allowing us to experience a depth and quality we could not have imagined upon walking into class.
A consummate teacher and valued mentor, Lisa possessed a most generous spirit. She left an indelible mark on those of us fortunate enough to have studied with her.Kathy Thomsen
I will never forget the first time I met Lisa Parker for an audition at the Longy School of Music. Grace and elegance was my first impression of Lisa. Thank you for teaching me how to express music through my body, to explore music in a different way. I will miss you lots!!Hua Hui Kao
In the beginning, people asked me “what is Dalcroze Eurhythmics?” and I summarized my encounters with Lisa Parker the best I could—“we run around and clap, and at the end you feel like a great musician.”
I arrived in class with a tidy music-major’s knowledge: ideas collected from books, teachers, and scores. Lisa gave me a corporeal avenue back to a musical language in which I could articulate those ideas for myself; a grammar with which to rewrite—and recreate—that musicality.
One day Lisa drew a picture of an Ear on the chalkboard: “This is how we sense music.” She drew a picture of a Brain: “Here is our knowledge of music. How do we get these two in contact?”…we sat puzzling…til she drew a picture of the Body: Of course!, the vector, the reason we move, she said: that which connects what we hear to what we know.
Lisa was “glued” to her students, always making micro-adjustments to her lesson sequence. When asked, “how do you know when to proceed to the next activity?” She said, “Easy: as soon as the students have mastered this one.” Her flow was so smooth that it was often difficult, afterward, to write down just how we got to where we got. But how grand a place we’d always get.
Experience always preceded cognition. And theory follows practice: whether 3 minutes later, or 30 years later, I am bound, with many of us, to continue learning from Lisa Parker.Aaron Butler
I remember when I met Lisa. I had just moved to Cambridge that summer to begin my Dalcroze studies.
I will always remember the way she embraced me with a big hug to welcome me into Longy Hall after I traveled away from my home for the first time in my life. She came out of the group with the biggest smile and open arms. It was the warmest welcome I’ve had in this country. With such a simple gesture, she made me feel loved and accepted. In a world full of strangers, she made me and many others feel like we belonged there.
She was the most caring and talented teacher, always looking for ways to make her lessons fruitful for each and every student. With her beautiful voice and gentle movements, she was able to transmit this radiant energy filled with music that enchanted us during her lessons.
It was truly an honor to be her student.
Lisa, you will be forever in our hearts. May your beautiful music infuse the Heavens forever.
My first encounter with Lisa Parker was an instant revelation, and a healing. The audition for Dalcroze graduate studies at The Longy School of Music was like no other I had experienced. After listening to my prepared pieces, Lisa assessed my singing abilities. Somewhat traumatized by my undergraduate ear-training experience (or lack thereof), I had come to believe I hated singing and couldn’t hold a pitch. I was dreading this moment.
Lisa sat with me at the piano and gently said, “Our voices will be like two dolphins, leaping pitch to pitch. Follow as I lead.”
She started in a small range, moving by steps, as I recall, and I immediately sensed that she wasn’t just listening to me in order merely to evaluate me, but that she was attuning to me. She was leading, and also responding to me. We were having a conversation! Far from being the terrible experience I feared, I left with a sense of not just “passing” my audition, but an immediate and exhilarating connection to my true, creative self. That experience alone was enough to convince me I was in the right place with the right person pursuing the right education. I then went to Lisa’s Eurhythmics class that afternoon and knew I had found home.
Over time, I came to realize that being in class with Lisa was like living art, every time. Her improvisations at the piano were beautifully elegant, thoughtful, sublime—a true expression of her essence. I sensed her deep reverence for music, and out of that reverence, respect—for herself, for those she worked with, and for the Dalcroze method. Whether for graduate students or seniors, she was always fully present in the moment with patience and curiosity. She deliberately cultivated a state of wonder in her classes—inviting students to step into the unknown and so have the chance to discover for one’s self.
To me, she embodied the living heart and soul of the Dalcroze method and in doing so, enriched the heart and soul of so many others, including my own.
Thank you, Lisa.Jessica Schaeffer
In 1974, A flyer announcing Dalcroze classes taught by Lisa Parker arrived at the NYC Dalcroze School office where I worked and studied in exchange for tuition. After 2 years, Dr. Schuster declared I danced too much in class and asked me to leave. I called the number on the flyer and Lisa answered. After an hour, we decided I’d move to her home in Concord to help care for her two daughters and study Dalcroze and private piano improvisation with her! Professionally and personally, my life was about to unfurl with Lisa as a lifetime mentor and friend.
Music and laughter filled the Parker home. We gardened, cared for the children, cooked, shared favorite composers and musicians, and put down a new floor and hung wallpaper in her kitchen. Lisa worked so patiently with me to develop piano improvisations specifically for Dalcroze classes and brilliantly got me sight-reading by playing 3 parts of a Bach choral and singing the 4th, which improved my options for joining fantastic choral groups.
I traveled with her to workshops and classes in Belmont where Lisa accepted creative dance responses that freed me up to play and explore. A favorite memory was when, during class, she stopped playing and looked out at us mischievously, leapt up from the piano and dashed and flew around the room imitating a student’s movement. “Let’s all do it.” This acknowledgement and praise of student ideas was inspiring and became part of my teaching.
In pedagogy class, I carried a drum while leading the children in dance, song, and storytelling rather than teaching from the piano. Her support emboldened my confidence to create new ideas within given structures. Her brilliant lesson plan format is one I still use today along with her simple but engaging improvisations that often have children telling me to “play the piano?”
Lessons with Lisa led the way to my childhood dream of opening Jillsville Dance School for children, where I developed a novel method of teaching dance to young children that included Dalcroze musical games and challenges that I also applied to Eurhythmics classes at Longy and later Tuft’s Community Music Program, jobs that Lisa recommended me for.
It was during our lunches in Medford that we continued our talks about the beneficial applications of Dalcroze – beyond teaching music. She was teaching Seniors and I introduced her to Dance for PD. I will forever remember dancing with her to classical music on zoom at her family home in Maine, to help ease the onset of symptoms brought on by the disease that took her from us.
Thank you for this lovely journey. Your inspiring gifts of love and teaching will be shared around the world by all who had the honor of being in your company.Jill Gleim
Lisa was my mentor as I journeyed through the certification process. When I started it, I was already an experienced teacher. Lisa was a kind, firm and inspiring guide. She was powerful, yet soft spoken. She never hesitated to tell me what I needed to hear, however painful it would be for me to hear it. In doing so she always had a plan that would help me overcome my difficulties. She believed in me and encouraged me to complete my certification, in spite of my many professional commitments, family upheaval, and my father’s death.
There isn’t a day I don’t think of her. She and I had both studied with Dr. Hilda M. Schuster, though at different times. Our common heritage bound us together somehow. Like Dr. Schuster, Lisa’s eurhythmics classes unfolded like pieces of music. She would take us on unexpected paths; we wouldn’t know where we were going, but we followed her. Then what joy I felt as I recognized how she had ingeniously lead us to the core of her lesson plan. Lisa’s classes were rich – she integrated all the arts into her teaching, making comparisons with architecture, literature and visual art.
One day, Lisa was teaching us solfège in the Longy Summer Institute. Somehow, we weren’t getting what she was trying to guide us to. After several tries, she stopped. She looked at us, her devoted students, and said, “This isn’t working.” Then and there she took a different approach and we understood. It was an extraordinary moment of humility and creativity to witness in a master teacher. I am grateful for you, Lisa.Rachel Buchman
I first met Lisa in 1979, at the Dalcroze National Convention at Ithaca College. In a week-long solfège class, centered on Dona Nobis Pacem, Lisa gracefully guided us on a rich journey into feeling the pushes and pulls – the hope, striving, sadness, urgency, triumph and repose – of the major scale. This was a musical education unlike any I’d experienced. With Lisa, the scale blossomed from technical exercises into a world of deep emotional connections.
I wanted more. A short time later, I relocated to Cambridge for two and a half transformative years of study with Lisa and Anne Farber.
Those potent days still find their way into my dreams tinged with both inspiration and intimidation from Lisa’s exquisite artistry and her high standards.
In waking life, I fondly recall,
Gliding through the Dalcroze Studio space, guided by Lisa’s improvisation in the delightful follow exercises that opened each eurhythmics class.
Struggling with solfège dictation as Lisa looked straight at me with that familiar raised eyebrow, as if willing my dull ears to hear the step-wise bass. I finally learned to hear it.
Anxiety and occasional triumph in improvisation classes, where melody and rhythm were my stronger suits. I prayed to find my way to the dominant, and navigate a safe return.
Challenge in methods class, learning to plan with enough direction to get to the subject, and enough flexibility to make room for spontaneity.
Ecstasy in Plastique Animé, when it all came together.
Transformation of the way I hear, feel, think about, play and teach music. Pure joy – in the integration of my musical, physical, intellectual, social and emotional self. Gratitude.Susan Riggs
Lisa was a force of nature. It was an awe-inspiring experience to be near her—she had a quality of greatness that is elusive to define. I attended many of her summer workshops at Longy and also spent a semester in the program. To be a student in her classes was transformative, especially to move to her piano improvisations.
I loved watching her work with children, and I told her many times that she should put her teaching ideas into a book. However, Lisa worked with the spirit of the moment and we students needed to watch her and absorb as much as we could while she was teaching and put together our own compendiums of her genius.
She helped me many times; including putting together a lecture-workshop I gave at Wellesley College. She also visited me where I live in Lexington, KY, and that is a memory I will treasure forever. I remember Lisa’s little red inflatable horse called “Rody” that she had gotten for her grandchildren. It made a big impression on me and I was sure to get a “Rody” when my first child was born, always remembering Lisa’s ideas to have little children hop and bounce on this silly red creature.
I will always hold Lisa dear to my heart, and I’m grateful to have known her.Beth Ellen Rosenbaum
My love of Lisa. She stood behind me and tried to understand synesthesia and clairvoyance when others could not help me. Lisa, Lisa, Lisa… you coached me privately in your home for almost a month one-on-one. Nothing will ever take the place of that, nor the kindness, nor our breakfasts together and dinners out laughing, which is something I had forgotten how to do. You are not missed, Lisa, because now I talk with you and see you every day in heaven and what a beautiful soul you are!😌 You have never been without my prayers since the day I first met you. Even now you grasp those prayers in heaven and you constantly give them away to those in greater need. There is no end to you, Lisa, and I know you guide me every day with every musical note and every movement. You continually hold me in your heart through your tears and mine also. Love Scotty
As Lisa told me once, “Scotty, you have always been bigger than the unkindness that has been shown to you.” We are living in uncertain times and as I tell my students (some up for marines), it is up to us to turn unkindness into certain kindness every single day – every single minute! – that we exist on this earth and hopefully in heaven. That is what I wish my remembrance to say about Lisa, except that she is still giving prayers away in heaven that are sent to her to help those less fortunate or less gifted. Thank you for your time, Lisa, and if there is one thing you can give away to the Dalcroze students and teachers: they must always put the Dalcroze method and music above any egotistical motive that may creep in their technique in teaching. Being clairvoyant and carrying synesthesia since I was born -most of you don’t even know what synesthesia is, but I guarantee you it is a challenge in many beautiful ways. Stay well, help others, do the same, and above all: bury your criticisms. Leave them at the door before you ever enter into a class for Dalcroze. That is the way Lisa wants it to be and that is the way it is always meant to be throughout this world. Very, very proud of all the things that Dalcroze has taught me.John Scott Beaty
The DSA thanks the many Dalcroze educators who have changed lives through their work. Please, tell us about the educators who have inspired you or consider a donation to the DSA to support their legacy.
In 1959, I started my education at the Dalcroze School in NYC. At that time Lisa Parker was completing her time there. I remember in a solfège Class with Dr. Schuster, Lisa was asked to take over, as Dr Schuster was called to the office . I remember how astonished I was when Lisa was improvising at the piano, and we were supposed to respond in some way.
I thought to myself, “Is this Summer course for me to find out if becoming a Dalcroze teacher is the right thing for me? Has it suddenly become too much of a challenge?
I remained in awe of Lisa, but I stuck it out and graduated with an Elementary Diploma in 1962. It was not my musical ability that made me succeed, but my natural ability to communicate with children. Reports about Lisa’s success were shared with us as she visited the DSM whenever she was in in NYC. Besides my instructors, Lisa is the only Dalcroze Student that I remember. (64 years ago) Today, I decided to Google Dalcroze Eurhythmics. What a pleasant surprise to find out that the Dalcroze Method is thriving so well. I conclude that is because it is so effective. It certainly gave me a wonderful career until 1990. (I went back to being a freelance harpist and am still going strong at age 85))
It was especially wonderful to be able to read about the great career Lisa Parker had. I can see how greatly she is being missed.