Being with a Group — Musical Facilitation

This multi-media blog post explores musical performance through the Zenergy Global Facilitation lens of the three states of a Facilitators ‘being’ – ‘being with self’, ‘being with another’ and ‘being with the group’. by Kāren Hunter.

I am a musician – which means I have many jobs.

One of these, one of my favourites is playing market music on the mandolin.

I play specifically New Zealand Farmers Market music – Celtic melodies with a few Polkas and familiar contemporary melodies on a warm bed of traditional backing tracks alternating with throbbing reggae / dub basslines as the day progresses.

This article is about the Zenergy concept of the three states of a Facilitators ‘being’ – ‘being with self’, ‘being with another’ and ‘being with the group’.

You can read the blog below, watch it over on youtube – or listen to it on soundcloud.

The tunes I play are ubiquitous yet reinvented / reharmonised and rearranged so most people recognise them and feel a sense of familiarity with them, yet often can’t place them, or me, or the instrument I am playing. I’m a fairly ordinary curly haired Celtic looking Pakeha, in colourful handmade clothing. My instrument has an unusual shape for a mandolin and looks like an Ovation Elite guitar ( which may not mean much to most readers ) . Mandolins have double strings, and many people ask me if it is Greek or Russian or Eastern European and where am I from?

Somehow I am both ‘other’ and ‘family’ at the same time.

Farmers Markets are a thronging spring of life. Multi-cultural, diverse in taste, and offerings. Ethnicity, age, sex and style of any given market is governed by location, and tourism.

When I am in my role, performing as a market musician, it is possible for me to sense the energy of the whole group. And rather than being a ‘main focus’ I am offering a service.

The ‘stars’ of the Farmers Markets are the products of stall holders, and workers, the makers who create items for sale. Usually unique, tasty, original and healthy food items, or magnificent craftwork that cannot be found anywhere else.

The market manager, the crew, the rubbish pickerupperers and me, we are serving the stall holders. Our work is appreciated but we are not the main act.

As a musician, playing amplified, this distinction can take some getting used to!

Through our Zenergy training we learn to be responsive and observant of ‘group energy’. Part of our training is to distinguish between ‘being with self’, ‘being with another’ and ‘being with the group’.

We also learn to ‘generate’ what is missing. In my role as a market musician I rely heavily on this skill.

When I start to play at the beginning of the day ( this morning I was set up and ready to go at 9am ), my focus is entirely on ‘being with self’. I listen to the PA, how does it sound? How does the sound feel? Is it sharp and hard or soft and gentle? If it is demanding attention then it is too loud or has too much treble. If I don’t adjust and turn down I will either be asked to, or not asked back.

I concentrate on the sound with my entire body. The sound of the space. The feeling of the sound of the space. I purposefully don’t look at anyone, I may not even face the front of the stage, I may face the speakers, or to the side.

I organise myself emotionally to be of service.

I believe it is my role as a market musician to smile at every face that appears in front of mine.

Once I turn to face whoever is there, and I begin to play, I will be ready to open my heart to who ever I see.

According to my Zenergy training this is called ‘being with another’. We learn that we have a unique relationship with each group member, and I practise this as I smile, while playing the mandolin at market.

Children, elderly, wisened, coupled, solo, interested, annoyed, curious, mildly offended, reserved, camera focused, polite, impolite, generous, greedy, Maori, Pacifica, Pakeha, Asian, dressed up and dressed down : each one a somebody and for each one a smile.

This, is a deep yoga practice.

And at the same time as all this connecting I am describing, I must keep the sound of the tune I am playing rolling through the back of my brain. I must keep giving my fingers permission to move in response to the sound of tune as it ( still ) plays against the very back wall of my skull. I can see this aural image and I can connect it by my will to my hands.

If I start to waiver in my playing I close my eyes to refocus – but the smile stays. The smile, by this point, is smiling itself through me.

In a deep trance I clearly see the group energy of the market place. I sense the ebb and flow, the bustle, the excitement and expectancy in the early part of the day gives way to weariness and fatigue in the latter.

I adjust my tunes accordingly, traditional in the beginning; fresh simple melodies with clear moving backing tracks. As the session progresses, in set 3 say, I shift to reggae / dub bass-lines to generate more relaxation in the group by offering more repetition. When I make this transition I check in, I make eye contact, with the elderly people, to make sure they are ready to leave the bonnie banks of yesteryear.

If things become stagnant I can generate more energy with a polka or a jig. In moments of brutal busyness I might let go fully into this energy with a set of urgent reels and allow intensity to dominate.

As a musician I have many aural tools to generate atmospheres.

I have these same skills as a facilitator, as a friend, community member and in my family. Opening oneself to the aural realm allows an undeniable sensory depth.

Keep these questions as reflections to open your senses to the aural dimension.

  • What sounds can you hear right now?
  • Can you hear the thoughts of others?
  • Can you hear the thoughts of the natural world around you?
  • Can you hear the reflections of sound on the walls and hard surfaces around you?
  • Can you picture you’re the sounds of your life as a stream of sensation on the hard surface of your skull?
  • Where else is sound living in you?
  • Can you feel sound on your skin? In your heart? In your minds eye?

Remember: Questions have the most power in the space between the asking and the answer.

Thank you for reading this article!

I’d love to hear from you, please make a comments or contact me on

Nga mihi
Kāren Hunter

Via Being with a Group — Zenergy Global Blog

Creativity&Music Tamaki Makaurau May 2018

Comments and Feedback from Participants:

What worked?

Everything – Technical knowledge – confidence – Being in a team / group of support – other peoples talents adding tothe songs. Vanessa

The meditation, karakia, holding the ‘space’, stream of consciousness exercises.

Sharing & creating. Creating the song together in two seperate parts was awesome.

Everything. Emma

The warm structure. The meditation to start. Painting & words. Cool!! Making music with other beautiful strong women. Lisa

Everything from start to finish. The space was created and held so beautifully and there was a beautiful progression in the exercises. Jo.

What an amazing space!!! Everything !!! I came in to a loving supportive, creative, beautiful atmosphere. Blessed be. Tea.

Upcoming & Backgoing – April 2018

Kia ora tatou katoa – Hello everyone

I hope you have had a fabulous summer, the festivals have been stunning haven’t they?

He mihi nui ki a koutou, ki ō koutou waiata hou, ō koutou moemoea hou, kia ora ai ō koutou mahi toi.

This first Upcoming section is to tell you about the Creativity&Music workshops I have coming up this autumn/winter period. The second Backgoing section is dedicated to my recently completed work and summer highlights for those who like to keep up to date 🙂

UPCOMING – Creativity & Music Workshops 2018

I will start the 2018 workshop series in the music month of May. All workshops run from 11-4pm.

Dates so far:

May / Haratua, Sunday 6th – Auckland / Tamaki Makaurau –  Mama Inc, Sandringham
June / Pipiri, Sunday 3rd – Thames / Parawai – Buddhaloka
September / Mahuru, Sunday 2nd – Mt Maunganui – Mind Your Karma Retreat Centre

Auckland workshops cost $50 or early-bird $40  if paid 2 weeks in advance.
All workshops that run outside Auckland cost $60 or early-bird $50 if paid 2 weeks in advance. ( This extra $10 goes towards petrol ).

Please get in touch asap if you are interested in any of these or 021 946 399. I’d also love to hear from you if you would like me to run workshop in your area.

Here is a taster from Paekakariki on the Kapiti Coast in December 2017.

BACKGOING – Summer 2017/2018 has been awesome!

The photo at the top of this blog is of a jam session with the sisters from the band Rising Appalachia, Leah & Chloe. What a summer highlight! I also attended Woodford Folk Festival in Queensland, Australia as part of a short tour with the Matiu te Huki trio. It was huge, some 100 000 people attend the festival! Thankfully not all at once though as the festival lasts 8 days including New Years Eve. Another highlight was a performance at Auckland Town Hall with the duo AnaKārena ( with Anahera Higgins ) as part of a wonderful show curated by Tama Waipara in honour of the late singer/songwriter Mahinaarangi Tocker and her timeless songs. A recording of this show will air at some point on RadioNZ.

The following clip was shot in Byron Bay, Australia with the Matiu Te Huki Trio.

Festivals were juicy – after Woodford came Evolve in Nelson / Whakatū, Spirit Horse Festival in the Kaipara,  a performance and a great workshop at Voices of Sacred Earth at Kawai Purapura. There is more to go! NZSpirit Festival is coming up at the end of April. Here’s a song from a house concert at Spirit Horse Festival.

Recordings –  I upgraded the track Prana on the Hunter de Luz album on bandcamp – if you have purchased that album you should be able to use the same code to get the updated versions of Prana. Any problems please let me know and I’ll sort it out.

I also updated my Bandcamp page to include the ambient music albums Soul Whispers (2016) & Wildseed (2016) and Kirtan (2003)

I value your support very much. When you purchase my albums online, or in person, you help me keep playing and recording music. Thank you.

This year I am based between Auckland and Whaingaroa / Raglan and I am taking students regularly in both of those locations. Get in touch if you’d like to take on some one-to-one lessons / ‘musical play-dates’ this year 🙂

Kāren created an environment in which everybody was at ease and felt free and uninhibited to step beyond their boundaries. [She] skilfully and with great insight guided everybody to get the most out of their presence. Alistair.

On a personal note I have been continuing my journey as a student of Te Reo Maori at Poihakena Marae in Whaingaroa. Tino pai tenei mahi mōku, kia ora ai te reo rangatira i roto i tenei ao hurihuri. Nau mai koutou ki te kōrero Maori ki au. He tauira anake e au, engari ka pai mōku tenei haerenga. Kōrero mai, awhina mai, akona mai.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Mauri Ora!
021 946 399


Creativity&Music Kapiti 2017

The Kapiti workshop held at Paekakariki Beach Memorial Hall workshop was subsidised by Kapiti Creative Communities fund under the “Arts Access and Participant” section.

The following participants gave their written permission to use their comments in future promotions for Kāren Hunter’s Creativity&Music workshops.

What worked?

The gentle and safe way you brought the group together. The breaks. Really enjoyed the coming together or our group. Enjoyed your energy, could feel your caring and wholesome facilitation Sue

The way the day was structured ; warming up with art/exercise then moving into writing the music. Brilliant supportive environment. It could have been 2 or 3 days, LOL it went too fast! Fantastic tutor, Karen really knows how to bring our someones talent. I want to do another course. Louise

You are an excellent facilitator : giving space thru the day, not talking too much!, giving us space to explore ourselves and experience – special rare – felt safe and well prepared. Juli

Loved starting with the opportunity to paint. Showing us the technique of using time limits to generate material. The improvisation at the end. Very well organised and nicely structured workshop. Thanks for giving us the opportunity. Julia

All of it – from the relaxing exercise at the start to the improv exercise at the end. Inspiring and uplifting. Really enjoyed it, challenged myself to get out of comfort zone. Donna

The painting and the jam at the end & Kāren helping with our songwriting. Thank you it was amazing. Katelyn

Group dynamics – getting everyone relaxed and working together. Freedom of expression. Awesome experience, thanks for making space for everyone to learn/achieve and experience whatever it was they needed. Annette

Uplifted mood. Investing time into just being creative. Successful collaboration with like-minded people. Joyful atmosphere, laughter, expression.

… Felt anxious & sad when I arrived and this feeling was replaced in the (warm-up exercises ). My anxiety was dropped out altogether, thank goodness. Caroline

A really lovey mix of activities. Kāren helped us all to relax and build really naturally & effortlessly into writing and performing a song. I had beliefs around not being able to write lyrics and was surprised when given the opportunity that I could. Nicely paced, lots of fun. A very well facilitated workshop. I thoroughly enjoyed the day and having never written a song before loved the opportunity to collaborate. Loved having the chance to sing. Denise.

It was good group size. Kāren is very talented with passion with her ability to help us step into our creativity. I really enjoyed the loving and encouraging energy from the instructor and the supporting atmosphere from the group. Mei

Kāren, I think you presented a well thought out workshop. The artwork was great, writing words. The swapping of words, the grouping for a song, all worked wonderfully. You were very gentle and encouraging. Maureen

Kārena’s responsive facilitation and guidance and intuitive and attention to different needs.

The freedom in painting. Highlighting and focussing on powerful words as a basis for lyrics. Awesome facilitation and support in creativity.

Creativity & Music Papaioea 2017

Creativity & Music Papaioea / Palmerston North 2017 was subsidised by Palmerston North Creative Communities under the Arts Access and Participant fund.

More photos of this workshop are available here

What worked?

All of it. The sharing was well facilitated so really great sharing where people could be comfortable. The different range of exercises was great exposure to different processes for helping work / expand on one’s creativity or own Art/Music ‘practise’.

I personally really enjoyed the Toning aspect to the workshop and will take that away as a special gift or ‘germ’ to realise in the future. I think the day was an amazing journey – wow – feels like we have travelled lots of landscapes. There is a lot to take away and reflect on.  Bek

Kāren is a woman of great talent that gave us confidence. I would enjoy another day with Kāren. Sue

Amazing, skilled, gentle facilitation! Perfect mix of being looked after and being extended. I learned heaps! A yummy enriching challenging day with a good mix of challenges and lovely facilitated group energy. Nice mix of fund and profundity … Kāren puts the fun in profundity! Helen

Whole day! Excellent pacing. Blend of people, Great explanations of activities. Thank you for allowing amazing creativity and soul strengthening to occur. Jennifer

  • Positive reinforcement.
  • Goingn out of my comfort zone.
  • I really enjoyed the venue and the faciliatation.
  • Good sized group. Vicky

Loved the time to be creative verbally and artistically ( painting ) . I really enjoyed that everyone felt together and open to be one. Thanks for making me feel myself and enjoying the vibe. Jacqui

The singing and playing and stretching were my favourite parts. Nina

Using different mediums and bringing it together. Moving around the room with different activities however always coming back to the centre circle. I liked how you kindly asked people to not comment after sharing their drawing and accepting it as an offer. You created amazing space for people to move into the unknown. You enabled time for everyone to process and feel into each process. Your ability to validate everyone on a personal level is a real art. Thank you Rebecca

Venue, facilitation, light, resources, everything. Inez

Student update October 2017

Tēnā koutou ki aku tauira o te ao puoro. He mihi nui ki a koutou. He mihi tautoko hoki mō ō koutou mahi i a ra, i a ra, kia tipu ai ō koutou pukenga waiata, ō koutou pukenga taonga puoro, ō koutou pukenga tito waiata hoki.

Welcome to all my music students and my warm greetings to you all. I offer you my continued support in your daily work to develop your singing, your instrumental practice and your songwriting skills.

My next journey north from the Kapiti Coast will be on the following dates :

12th November – Sunday – Palmerston North – Creativity & Songwriting workshop

14/15 November- Tuesday/ Wednesday – Auckland

16th November – Thursday – Whangarei

17th November – Friday – Dargaville

18th November – Saturday – Matakana

19/20 November – Sunday/ Monday – Auckland

3rd December – Sunday – Paekakariki – Creativity & Songwriting workshop

I’d love to see as many of you as possible, please do get in touch asap if you’d like to schedule a session.

I have been offered the opportunity to bring subsidised Creativity & Music workshops to two distinct communities through two successful Creative Communities grants.

Palmerston North – Sunday November 12th $20 11am-5pm

Paekakariki – Sunday December 3rd. $10 11am – 5pm

Please share the word to your friends in these communities so they can take advantage of these very special prices.

My year of travelling up and down Te Ika o Maui / The North Island is drawing to a close and I am yet to see where I will be drawn to settle for 2018. It’s been an amazing year of learning for me as I have been on the journey of discovering Te Reo Maori / Maori Language, and finding people and places where I can use this beautiful language, thoughts and ideas in my day to day life.

I will be travelling to Australia for the New Years Period to play with Matiu Te Yuki in his band My Golden Soul at Woodford Festival. I’ll also be playing and offering Creativity&Music ‘taster workshops’ at Voices of Sacred Earth Festival in Auckland in March.

I look forward to hearing from you : email or text 021 946 399.

Mauri Ora!


( photo by Melanie Shaw )

What is a Creativity&Music workshop?

E nga kaiwaiata, e nga kaiako, e nga mohiotanga katoa, tena koutou.

Acknowledgements to the singers, to the teachers, and to all our knowledge. 

Creativity&Music workshops are transformational and experiential group musical encounters. Music-making in a group is a great way to be in the ‘now’ .

The style of delivery uses the Zenergy facilitation model.

Participants explore a range of activities to encourage an atmosphere of relaxation, tranquility and friendship..

Come and play music with a group of people who are also exploring self expression with sound. Bring with your voice, your instrument and your open heart.

We will be stretching, warming up, singing, writing, painting, making poems, creating rhythms, getting our groove on, listening, discovering and sharing songs.

It is not necessary to have an instrument to get the most out of this workshop however please bring any instruments you have that you like to play or would like to learn how to play.

In this circle, every one’s contribution is important, and everyone’s abilities are included.

I have a rich juicy kete from over 43 years of musical experience ( 53 years if you count my apprenticeship in my mothers womb and the ‘witnessing’ of my childhood. Several hundred years or more if ancestry plays a part of your referencing ). Many lives of experience provide my content, my ‘what’ in this work. My Zenergy training provides my approach, my ‘how’.

Participant comment: A safe and enjoyable container was created to explore freely rather than feel judged or performing. So much more that a music workshop …. A journey, a discovery, an uncovering, a liberation. Kimmy – Auckland 2017.

I don’t think we have to be ‘virtuosos’ to make great music – although virtuosity can be awesome, it can also be boring!

I like the grit and soar of a lyric wrung from the deep,
because no-one else has ever said it and it needs to exist.

Participant comment: Creativity can be as subtle or as complex as ( it happens ) or as the tools we have in our individual or collective toolboxes! Especially loved the interactive exercises and the group input into the content of the last session. Tauranga July 2017.

The small group activity in the video above takes place about half way through the day workshop. First there is a voice/body warm up, followed by several group rhythm activities, or word games and a session on non dominant hand painting.

Creativity & Music workshop

Participant comment: What worked [was access to] different ideas to open creativity through art & movement – easy to remember ‘take outs’ to use for future inspiration. Exquisite inclusive manner and facilitation of people. Tauranga 2017

I’m working on getting these workshops to the people that want them – I’ve just run a series in Auckland, Thames and Tauranga – Looking at Palmerston North, Kapiti and possibly Wanganui or Levin next – do you know of anyone who’d be interested there? Let me know on

Participant comment: At 11am we were strangers, by 5pm we left knowing we had shared something together. Immense gratitude to Kāren’s expertise, care, creativity and structure, and to my new friends, who helped me to explore some new musical territory. Dan Auckland 2017

You are welcome to ask me any questions about what I do (or don’t do) as a facilitator of this transformative approach to Creativity&Music.

Korero mai! Waiata mai!
Feedback welcome in any form!

This second video is from the Tauranga workshop at Arty House in July 2017.

My website is:
Facebook profile:
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Student Update July/August 2017

Tena koutou e āku tauira rerehua. E koha ana ahau ki a koutou te wero o te waiata, kia tito waiata, kia whakatinana mai hoki te ia o te waiata.

Acknowledgements and greetings to my beautiful students. I extend to you the challenge of music, of songwriting, of the embodiment of music.

The last round of workshops and lessons has been a delight with so much transformation and joy released and birthed into being. Papatuanuku is dancing with the medicine of your freedom!

My next travel dates north of Kapiti will be for ‘one to one’ sessions on the following dates :

Tauranga : August Friday 11th and Saturday 12th

Thames / Parawai –  August Sunday 13th and Monday 14th

Auckland / Tamaki Makaurau – August Tuesday 15th – Thursday 17th

Cost of lessons are on a sliding scale $60-50 ( plus a travel koha depending on your distance from the city centre). You can assess what is the most appropriate fee for you to pay based on your circumstances. I also accept good quality, fresh & healthy organic produce….. (and cake).

Please contact me asap if you’d like to book in. is the best way to contact me.

Here is a short video from the Auckland Creativity&Music workshop in July 2017.


I am also sharing music at the following Women’s retreat in August, curated by Kimmy McKay ( you may need to be logged into facebook to open this event ) . It’s on August Friday 18th – Sunday 20th – Kaipara (West Auckland – way out past Parakai ). I am one of three or four facilitators, I will offer a ‘sound bath’ as my contribution.

Radiant Sexy YOU
A workshop for women.
A conversation about our joy, our power, our sexuality


Student Update June 2017

Tena koutou katoa, he mihi nui ki a koutou.

I’ve spent the last week in Auckland with my students, visiting family and friends. I was also lucky enough to attend Cian Elyse Waitī’s wonderful play Te Puhi  which was part of the incredible Tamaki Makaurau Matariki Festival.

I facilitated a wonderful Creativity&Music workshop in Thames yesterday – we were a magic group of seven bravely wild women. This workshop dived into a beautiful open space. We sang, danced, painted, breathed, laughed ….. and more 🙂

Matiu Te Huki played in Titirangi at Soul Centre Saturday night and with the help of Kate Hornsblow at the wheel I made it back in time to plug myself in and perform as his accompanist. It’s always an honour to play with Matiu as he makes his contribution to the Ngati Aroha community from a place of love and respect for all souls. More dancing and singing, hugging and laughing!

Tomorrow I’m driving back to Kapiti to continue my course Te Putakitanga o Te Reo Maori which is delivered by Te Wananga o Aotearoa. I am attending through the Porirua campus.

My next trip north :

Auckland July 14 – 20 ( one to one lessons & workshop in Te Atatu Sunday July 17th )
Thames July 20 & 21 ( one to one lessons )
Tauranga July 22 & 23 ( Tauranga Farmers Market & Workshop at Arty House Sunday 23rd )

Please contact me asap to book your place on the workshops or to make your appointments so I can make sure you get the time that best fits your schedule. The best way to contact me is email or text if you have my number.

I have also booked a workshop in Paraparaumu at Te Newhanga Kapiti Community Centre on August 6th

I have received interest from people in Napier, Nelson, Christchurch and Dunedin regarding expanding the workshop programme into other parts of the country – please do contact me if you are in one of these locations and you’d like to participate in a workshop. ( Or a different location ).

Nga mihi ki a koutou katoa




Winter workshops 2017

Are you up for some winter music fun?   Do you fancy getting some new skills happening while the nights are long and there’s plenty of time to practise? There will be a special series of Creativity & Music workshops throughout New Zealand this winter.

Come and play music with a group of people who are also exploring self expression with sound. Bring with your voice, your instrument and your open heart.


We will be stretching, warming up, singing, writing, painting, making poems, creating rhythms, getting our groove on, listening, discovering and sharing songs.

It is not necessary to have an instrument to get the most out of this workshop however please bring any instruments you have that you like to play or would like to learn how to play.

You may also like to bring your creativity journal and favourite pen/pencils. Paper, paints, pencils and pens will be also be provided.


About your facilitator:

Karen Hunter is a experienced musical facilitator who is passionate about holding space for people to explore and expand their creative potential.

Karen has taught one to one music lessons and workshops in guitar, voice and songwriting since 1987. She has undertaken many musical studies both formally and informally and she also holds a diploma in Facilitation from Zenergy Global.

In addition to a lifetime of experience in the field Karen completed the Masters of Music programme at the University of Auckland. Karen has also taught music privately and lectured at both the UoA and at M.A.I.N.Z ( Music and Audio Institute of New Zealand).


Please contact to find out about running a Creativity&Music workshop in your area.