Carolyn Royal - 2012
After a gap of 6 years, the prestigious ANCOS Award of Honour was again presented at the dinner of the Voices Conference in Perth, January 2012. Unfortunately the very worthy, and much loved recipient, Carolyn Royal, was unable to accept it in person, so it was accepted by her daughter, Monica.
The Award was presented by Biddy Seymour, after a moving tribute paid by Dr Carol Richards, a close, long-time friend of Carolyn’s.
Tribute to Carolyn Royal
"When you become a member of an Orff Schulwerk Association in Australia, and even perhaps in the world, you don’t just become a member of an organisation. You become a member of a special family. Every time you attend a workshop, course, or conference, you have an opportunity to socialize and share with other members of your family – a family you have chosen to be part of. That makes this family special. And we view all members of this family as special in their own unique
ways. Some members of the family are gifted musicians. Some are gifted teachers. There are some in the family that you know you can trust that you know you can depend on, that brighten up the day and make it memorable.
Tonight we are honouring a valued member of our Orff family. Her special qualities have not only been used to further Orff Schulwerk in this country but also have endeared her to us. At different times, she has worn the hats of a wife, mother, grandmother, friend, presenter, artist, organizer, social director, teacher, musician, promoter and friend.
I cannot begin to tell you of all her contributions to our family, but I will try to describe what I know, which is only the tip of the iceberg representing a lifetime of music making, teaching and service.
Carolyn Royal has always had a passion for music and for family. Her desire to make music accessible to everyone was a lifelong journey. She fell in love with the Orff approach when she heard a recording of Music for Children. She bought a Brown book and began to teach in that way.
In 1985, she attended a music and movement course in Melbourne that I was asked to teach. She used to drive up from Mt Eliza to Richmond each week to attend the course and expand her repertoire beyond the Brown Books. She became a member of the Victorian Orff Schulwerk Association and began to assist in running courses. Over the next 25 years Carolyn was an active member of VOSA, doing all the jobs that has to be done to run successful courses - from making cups of tea, to decorating tables for conference dinners. She was always there, at folk dance camps, conferences, workshops and level courses. She served on committees and worked tirelessly for VOSA and ANCOS.
Carolyn has always been a familiar face at conferences. One of my favourite memories of the Brisbane conference is the handbag story. A group of us girls were having lunch having just finished a session with Richard Gill. One of the girls said, “Isn’t it scary when Richard says, “Now we are going to vocally improvise in Phygian mode”. Then he starts looking around for a suitable victim. We all agreed it was really scary and we tried not to have eye contact with him for fear of getting selected to do the improvisation. Carolyn, however, was not worried, because she had developed a strategy that was fool proof for getting ignored by Richard. She said, “Whenever he begins looking for someone to do something very difficult, I just pick up my handbag, look very worried and begin to dig in it like I need something important. It works every time and he never picks me”. The rest of us agreed it was a fabulous idea. The next time our group had Richard Gill for a session, we all sat with our handbags on our laps at the ready. Sure enough, Richard announced we were going to take turns improvising in hypomixaphrygian mode. At that point, every female in the group, opened their handbags and began to rummage furiously. Richard looked very perplexed, and then got the joke.
Some years ago, Carolyn became a co-opted member of ANCOS and instituted the role of Archivist for the organization to preserve our history. Her interest in video archiving led her to a new project entailing videoing workshops and conferences to provide a resource for Orff teachers and to add to the archives of the organization. Countless hours were spent videoing, editing, burning CDs, and sending them to people. Because of her, we will always have documented the famous Orff Poolwork session run by Dot Thompson at the Brisbane Conference.
During these years, Carolyn continued to be an outstanding primary music teacher, using the Orff method to nurture the musicality and creativity of young children. When a group of students left primary school and went to high school, they approached Carolyn and asked her to run an after school group so that they could continue to perform the music in the way they had grown to love. The Monday Night Group, Eminge was born and continued many years until the participants grew up.
Carolyn lives the ethos of the Orff approach. Music pervades her life and the lives of her family, her congregation and her community. Her home was and is a venue for all kinds of musical experiences, like the famous Christmas Day concerts, when all family and invited guests came to eat, drink and make music. Every celebration held in her Mount Eliza home, from weddings, to birthdays, to fund raisers is marked by musical events.
Those of us lucky enough to call her a close friend, also became part of her extended family. Her children, I feel, at some level are mine as well as I watched them grow up and become immersed in her music passion. All of her family make music and spread the joy.
Her work with the Grail was another indication of her concern for others. Even this involved music and joy.
So tonight we honour Carolyn Royal, for her work, for her life, for being part of our family and for allowing us to be a part of hers.