When the Journey Takes a Detour

In a talk given by Tara Brach I heard an old adage - ‘a truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery while on a detour.’

This struck me deeply - as the less mindful, less patient side of me would most easily default to thinking - ‘For the love of GOD, why do I keep getting SIDETRACKED?!’  (Hello there, drama queen :).

My body and my relationship with it has become a profound detour.  Upon reflection, it has been trying to communicate with me for 25 years.  I am learning now to listen. . . . .

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Find YOUR Path

There’s no ONE path.  There’s just YOUR path.  Find YOUR path.

I’ve been paying attention to how we find satisfaction, reach goals and fulfill our dreams in different areas of life - artistic expression, personal relationships, physical and mental health, exercise, spirituality. . . . .

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Breathing for Singing - Is it Really that Important?

So is breath really that important for singing?

Listen carefully . . .BREATH IS EVERYTHING. 

OK - fine. I have a flair for drama.  Not everything.  JUST 99% of everything.  Still too much?  Fine. Breath is 90% of everything that you should understand about singing.

If you appreciate full, warm, resonant tones and a sense of strength, fluidity, and openness you want to spend time working with breath. . . .

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Singing Tips - How to Make Progress Ep.8

Today’s singing tips are related to mindset.  For myself and my students, I’ve found that the attitude you choose to approach your singing progress is paramount.  First, think of your voice as an instrument. Then, let’s be mad scientists - curious, persistent, observant. We can use all of the feedback we get to make progress. Of course, we can’t forget to do things again and again and again . . .and again . . . that just increases our odds now doesn’t it?

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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Maya Angelou’s ‘I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings’ is achingly beautiful.  I encourage you to read it ALOUD. . .

Before learning how to use my breath as well as other ‘flying’ techniques, I felt caged.  I knew exactly where the edges were. I knew the limitations of my reach and approached them either with trepidation or conversely using a lot of energy to try to break free.  

. . .The caged bird sings

with a fearful trill

of things unknown . . .

***

The free bird leaps

on the back of the wind

and floats downstream

till the current ends . . .

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Why it Feels So Good to Sing

I was inspired this week by a post from Susan McCulley’s blog - Focus Pocus Now.

In her post, she lists the benefits of making sound:

  1. It supports the health and strength of the physical body
  2. It focuses attention, energy and power
  3. It moves emotional energy of all kind
  4. It connects us with each other and all that is

Besides a lot of silent “AMEN”s, “I second that emotion”s and several audible “Mm Hmm”s it sparked a lot of thought and connections related to why I, as well as SO many people, love to sing!

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The Benefits of Yoga for Singers

I've been flirting with yoga for more than 20 years. It has only been over the past few that I began practicing regularly enough to understand the true benefits - both in my life and as a singer.

I read an article in Yoga Journal recently listing a number of benefits yoga provides for our general health. 

Here are six ways that yoga benefits spill over into a singer's world:

1. Improves strength, flexibility, posture, and releases tension throughout the body

2. Increases mental focus

3. Relaxes the nervous system

4. Increases body awareness

5. Gives lungs room to breathe

6. Gives you inner strength and encourages self care

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Cultivating Awareness for Greater Freedom

Our conscious awareness of what is happening in our body while we breathe unlocks potential for stronger tone quality, greater range, longer phrases, pitch control - essentially, greater freedom for singing.

Our conscious awareness of what is happening in our body when we are feeling anxious or under stress unlocks the potential to meet these sensations with perspective.  It also gives us a chance to use techniques like deep breathing (what a coincidence) to efficiently regain balance and control - essentially, greater mental and emotional freedom.

Quiet calm.  Quiet confidence. Ease. Consistency. 

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Taming the Dragon

When you name it, you can tame it.

I recently listened to this story about a dragon at the beginning of a guided meditation encouraging us to name our dragons. Fear. Anger. Impatience. Envy.

Naming these 'monsters' disempowers them. It doesn't feel logical, but it can be a powerful practice.

When we name a dragon like impatience, the simple act of naming it puts us in the role of the observer.  It takes us out of the clutches of the battle with it and allows us to see that we are fighting with our own selves. 

This dragon taming is possible with our singing, as well. The dragons might be strong emotions like fear and anxiety or physical sensations like tightness in the chest or tension in the jaw or tongue.

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The Mystery and Demystification of the Voice

THE MYSTERY - why we are moved in a way we can’t explain when we hear a voice that resonates with our personal experience. What stirs those vibrations, sensations, emotions? Is it the tambre of that voice? The intangible expression of something we struggle to define? The sense of freedom expressed? The poignant suffering? An ethereal, pure aesthetic? Why does it feel so cathartic to sing? What causes that palpable sense of joy and release?  I don’t know and I love that I don’t know.

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Perfectionism - Enemy of Growth

I consider myself a recovering perfectionist. And the story goes like this. . . . Once upon a time there was a girl. Her name was Little Miss Perfect.  She chided, teased and judged - a lot.  Anything that did not fit into her imagined world of perfection was devalued and discarded . . . . until one day she looked around and realized that she was ALL ALONE - because NOTHING and NO ONE is perfect. 

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Technique Isn't Everything

vocal technique is not everything.  It can turn into something to hide behind.  There is a balance between technical mastery and stylistic expression.  A clear, resonant tone has its place. It’s a strong place.  However, there are textures and tambres in voices that really speak to us as human beings.  We use the voice to express the full array of human emotion . . . and that’s not always ‘pretty’ - thank goodness.

 When exploring the possibilities of your voice, I encourage you to do so with a sense of openness and curiosity.  There is a place for us all to find freedom within a form.

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