Thursday, 24 January 2013


Mens sana in corpore sano
An ancient holistic ideal!

Earlier this month, thinking back on two very different experiences of institutional care in his childhood, Ralph Strzałkowski wrote – 
It seems pretty obvious. The right kind of people can inspire and motivate you and make most hard work pleasant. The wrong kind of people can give you nightmares that will haunt you for the next 25 years. Some people should not work with disabilities, but then some people should not work with other people to begin with...
Perhaps it isn't fair to compare Polish nurses to conductors from the Hungarian Pető Institute, mostly young energetic women who were there guiding children with cerebral palsy through rehabilitation. Warm, loving and kind. I have never experienced spiritual ugliness there and it did allow me to heal. When you don't have to worry about being in pain and mistreated you can actually focus on growing confident and becoming independent...
Maybe Pető wanted to harvest this youth and enthusiasm as essential to his method. But do we always stay this way? How do you not lose the passion. I don't know what happens to human spirit over time. I don't think we're born ugly. Maybe it's something we become...

How András Pető selected

Vera Förster worked for András Pető in the early fifties, as a kezelőnő. a 'handling lady' –

Pető ... required no formal qualifications from the young women that he interviewed to work with him. They had to be bright and physically strong, with no preconceived ideas about disability. As far as possible, he chose girls who had a boyfriend and a harmonious family life, dismissing anyone who said she wanted to devote her life to 'poor crippled children'. (p. 160)
This is probably no longer possible in its specifics under European equal-opportunties law, but as an unexpressed cultural heritage, who knows...

What is happening in Budapest this Saturday?

The Pető Institute will hold its preliminary aptitude tests for would-be conductors. Candidates should be there no later that 11.00 a.m., meet the matriculation requirements for schoolteachers, and bring with them a registration fee – and sports kit.
Keep young and beautiful
Initial recruitment is of course only one question.

Another interesting question is how do so many conductors avoid the pitfalls of the classic professional experience of burn-out – and how does one ensure that this continues.
How do so many conductors appear to maintain and even develop greater sublimity over years and years of practice? One factor may of course relate to the institutions in which they work, but some appear to do this despite their workplace!
How to achieve this is a secret that would significantly enhance many a profession. I wonder whether one answer might lie in and around 'results'.
Conductors, born or made...?

Another question, how one might modify and develop initially unpromising candidates... Not today, though.

Forster, V, (2009) A daughter of her century, Southampton, Clucket Press

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