Friday, December 17, 2010

No. 118: Whittle Me Down

Whittle me down
To pure-I-ty
Where all of thee
Is all you see
And in our nakedness
We sing what is means
To be children
Of the Car(v)er
Who, even as we bleed
Makes music
With swiftest certainty:
Mosaics from shavings
Left over after Truth...
Nothing is wasted!
Our woundings, the proof
That Life and Light Exist,
For in the Artist's eyes
Perfection is just a cut away
And beauty is movement
Set free only to obey
The rule of Love.

Monday, December 13, 2010

No. 117

As a young student, I used to believe that we musicians practice to achieve proficiency.  Now, having been blessed to hear and see many of the greatest musicians of our time, I know that we do not practice for proficiency and expertise alone.  We practice to become at one with our instruments: the violinist is not only learning fingerings--she is growing new limbs; the brass player does not learn only mouth position--she is learning to speak with new lips; the singer is not only strengthening her voice--she is preparing a home for the music she was made to sing.

The most beautiful music is beautiful because of this: it has become one with the musician to such an extent that it cannot help but reflect every angle of human experience.  For the audience member who is willing to look in the mirror, the experience can be enormous. 

The ultimate challenge for the musician is to trust that human experience, reflected in this integrated musical expression, is enough.  She must not add to the reflection, or try to manipulate the mirror.  She can only hollow out from within herself all judgment and tendency to control how she is reflecting to her audience, and then concentrate on the principles and the music she is "performing".

Performance, when looked at from this perspective, is really just an inaccurate way to describe the most Ego-less and sincere form of Being. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

No. 116: Voice, Meet Heart. Heart, Meet Voice.

Silence surrounds the Heart, having found her Voice.
It is the simple stillness of a Love
Profound and yet so commonplace
Neither Voice nor Heart can believe in the other's existence
Unless they feel each other in the midst
Of the deepest nothingness.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

No. 115: We Are/chitects of Freedom: Of Horses and of Song

I had the awe-inspiring opportunity to get to know a very special horse Emmitt better while I was teaching, practicing, and performing as an opera singer in Oregon last month. Emmitt has taught me so much about singing that he really deserves as many carrots and apples as his big heart desires.  Only, as a "Left-Brained-Introvert", i.e. a horse who is inherently dominant and focused upon "what's in it for him", it would not be the wisest thing for me, as his necessary leader, to shower him with treats. For, as soon as this thousand pounds of hulk discovers that I am a quasi-vending-machine-of-yummies, all but the "Nom-nom" part of his brain turns off and he becomes a flurry of snuffles and licks, searching my every pocket for food.

"Necessary leader" has been a phrase that has been floating around in my head for a while.  This is a phrase that is easy to understand when we speak of horses.  Horses naturally seek leadership. They are highly intuitive and sensitive beings, conditioned by thousands and thousands of years of surviving in the wild.  As prey animals, they rely on the herd to keep them safe, and the most experienced and powerful horses become natural leaders of the herd, keeping their followers from danger.  But as prey animals, even the leaders among horses are forced to give way to leadership.  The strongest and fastest of stallions and the most protective mares cannot stride their way easily through the forest in the way a lioness or a bear can.  Prey animals are led by the dangers around them to constantly seek safety and comfort.

With the dawn of man, horses were introduced to their most feared predators, but, at the same time, their most loving leaders.  For how great a leader could a potential predator make?  A perfect one: a leader that understands the power of what it means to be a predator, and the vulnerability of being prey, can empathize and take charge in equal doses, depending upon what is needed in the moment.

When Emmitt came to my family, I was struck by his beauty and steadiness. This was a horse who, I knew intuitively, was "safe".  He possesses a self-assuredness and confidence that is rare among horses.  It is not unshakable, but it is strong enough that under almost any circumstance, my Mother, his owner, I knew would be safe.

Emmitt came to us at least 300 pounds overweight.  It was not until we got to know him that we realized that his previous owners over-fed him in order to be able to handle him.  Emmitt had mastered what I call the "sassy pants" look.  With it he simply says "Feed me and leave me alone".  This look escalated toward feeding time, and came out whenever he felt forced to do something he didn't want to do. It wasn't until I became fascinated with exploring Emmitt's potential that I knew he was calling me past his sassiness.  I started to dream about what it would be like to possess the power to no longer be intimidated by his nasty looks, and begin a partnership with him.  I presume that, at the beginning of these imaginings, I was little different from a Native American woman crouching in the bushes hundreds of years ago, secretly watching a gorgeous wild mare lead her family away from harm.  What would it take to communicate with such power? with a being of such conviction and natural strength?

I was soon to find out. As I have learned to communicate with darling Emmitt, colors and sparks emerge from him, and I feel honored to observe the times when he "forgets" to be the tough guy.  Under my learned leadership so far, he is beginning to feel safe and proud enough to play.  He is leaving behind his bulk and becoming a striking, ever-more-fit bundle of power who is so fun to watch that he makes me laugh like a young girl to see it.  Indeed, hidden beneath the cover of his intimidating looks and his insulating flab, there is a horse of such power and joy that I live to someday see him with us in captivity just as I might see him in the wild: powerful, joyous, and free.  This, to me, is what Natural Horsemanship is all about: uncovering, the true, natural nature of the horse, wild and free, even as it is in relationship with humans.

This is also what singing is about!  We are architects of freedom in that, in order to take on the courage to uncover the truth of what we love, whether it be horse or song, we must be brave enough to imagine that love in all of its fullness before we see it in the flesh.

With Emmitt, I have experienced heart-stopping moments were I knew, deep down, that he saw me, his leader, as a playmate equal to him even in power and size, and the boundaries between us faded as he lowered his head and looked straight into my eyes as if to say "What's next? Let's play! One-two-go!"  To experience this with an animal so inherently wild is an honor that will take any feeling person's breath away.  If I could not, at least in some small way, imagine that this playful relationship might be possible, even back in his "sassy" days, I could not have fostered the courage to find the truth of who Emmitt really is, and I would have missed out on a whole lot of magic!

I believe the same magic is possible in singing.  What we study along the Classical School of Singing path is how to know exactly what our true, natural voices are so that we can lead them through the music for which they were made.  The greatest magic of being a singer comes when we can stand back and know that our voices are celebrating, not struggling, muffled, or hidden, when we sing a piece of music: wild and free, yet safe and comfortable, expressions of ease and lightness.  We study so we can become one with our voices, so that all we have to do to sing is desire it, and it is done in a natural way that only God or her equivalent could have a hand in. 

With the honor of being a singer, and the honor of being a Natural Horseman, comes responsibility!  Ironically, in Emmitt's most playful moments, he is the most malleable and the most vulnerable.  The big-highschool-football-player persona dissolves and he becomes hyper-aware, sensitive to all that is around him, and vulnerable to fear and insecurity.  In these moments of exuberance which are becoming more and more frequent, dear Emmitt needs a leader to shape his experience, to guide him in all his ecstatic beauty and keep him from harm.    He plays hard, like a little boy on the playground who, without an observant playmate might get himself into trouble easily.

As I am learning to allow Emmitt to be all he is in his playfulness, I am learning a horseman's technique called "Feel".  "Feel" is about as easy to explain as "musicality".  Some people say that one is either born with it or not.  I believe that when one understands the reason it is important, it becomes easy to grasp the concept.  Whether we commit ourselves to feel as horsemen is the same question as whether a musician commits herself to musicality, or not: How important is the true music to us? How important the true horse?

The best I can describe the concept of "Feel" so far on my journey to becoming the most accomplished horseman I can be, is to say that "Feel" is a way for the leader to lead without losing profound respect and recognition of who a horse truly is.  In my last lesson with 3-Star-Parelli-Natural-Horsemanship-Instructor Marc Rea, Marc pointed out to me that it is in the mundane moments that a relationship between horse and human is fostered.  When Emmitt is eating or ignoring me as is so inherently his dominant, comfortable attitude toward life, do I pull him thoughtlessly from his slumber or his meal? Or do I gently, with all due respect, draw him to me with a "Feel" that expresses all the love I have for him within it, all the while being his 'necessary leader'?

In all of my years studying singing and living with horses, I can see one common thread:

To find love in our lives, we must commit to seeking, and allowing ourselves to find, the truth.

What does this mean?  It means acknowledging that we are creating what we love by nourishing it, by "taking the time it takes" to get to know it, by learning to communicate with it so we know who and what it truly is.  It means valuing the identity of the voice we have been given or the horse in our care enough to learn the techniques to keep them safe and comfortable.  It is putting the truth of what we love far above our own ideas of what our loved ones could be in our imaginations.  We must dream of all possibilities, and at the same time be grounded in such reality that we do not betray the truth of those under our care, while still constantly acknowledging their greatness.

The more I learn to love Emmitt, the more awe I feel for the responsibility we humans have on this earth.  I have the power to shape his experience.  I have the power to force his obedience or to allow his natural expressions of life and love.  I can expect too much of him, or I can celebrate every little thing he gives.  On this path, I have made and will make many more mistakes, but at the same time I am gaining the confidence that with love and knowledge on my side, a relationship of the strongest freedom and integrity is being built. 

When a singer can dance the beautiful dance between being the observer of her voice and loving it for what it truly is, great music is made.  And when the rider can preserve her horse's dignity in the process of asking to be one with him, magic happens between horse and human.  They, too, dance a dance that can only be called heavenly.

With the right attitude, knowledge, time, and patience, love can be allowed to draw together what once was thought separate: a singer and her song...a human and her horse...who we want to be, and who we truly are becoming...

Quote of the Day 10: Shattering the Mirror

Shattering the Mirror

If you practice meditation, or what I call the art and science of stillness, but have not yet become absolutely clear that you are willing to pay the price to become an enlightened person, the mere act of paying attention won't really help you be more awake. It will just end up being the ego watching itself, which is like looking in the mirror. There are many different forms of spiritual practice that can help us to cultivate awareness, focus, and attention. But only if we want to evolve beyond ego will paying attention have the power to shatter the ever-selective mirror of pride, narcissism, and self-concern.

~ Andrew Cohen

Saturday, November 27, 2010

No. 114: Inside Out

Let me in!
Let me in!
Let me in!

Inside out

Inside OUT.

Inside OUT.

Not outside IN.

Inside ME

Not your THOUGHTS.

Unless they be
thoughts of God
and of Eternity.

For these, you see
are inside me
and inside thee.

We've been taught
to listen wrongly!!!

Inside out.
Inside out.
Inside out.


For when we are in we see
How Universe, the stars, and all that we Be
Carved cavities of Truth
Made of pockets of Love
Through a world where nonsense threatened
To speak its way in from "Above"
When all we need is here and now:
From that which is in us, I proclaim, I bow!

(Inside out): This is Me! There is no where, and no one, I'd rather be!

Inside out.
Inside out.
Inside OUT.

Friday, November 19, 2010

No. 113

When my students stun me with their beauty and love I know that I am not the True Teacher, but something much deeper teaches through me which is common to all of us...when student and teacher are willing to invite IT into their interaction, magic happens.  Mastering technique is simply the acceptance that magic can happen again, and again, and again, until it becomes who we are.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

No. 112

Prayer flags battered by the wind: 
In my heart there seems no relief
From the Belief 
That I must find some foothold on this night
Which seems the opposite of light.
Clinging to thoughts
Like pieces of frayed colored cloth:
These weapons of choice
Are impotent against the power of Life
They give no comfort and no advice...

So I listen to despair, my well-known friend,
And let go into the dark,
As my eyes, filled with tears,
Take in the stars
And they, in return, take me in.
Then despair, or hope disguised,
Turns to more colors of light
Than human eyes 
Could presume to know
As Truth beyond sight 
Deep in the night glows:

I am not only the prayer I breathe, I am the wind that carries it.
I am not only the stars I see, I am the skies that house them.
I am light, I am dark, and I am everything in between.
I am buffeted and beaten by the winds of Time and yet
I am the Love that tumbles on beyond it!
I breathe the Earth and it breathes me:

I am Artist, hear me sing!
Listen to me write! Watch me be!
And you will know
That you, too, are home 
To the Wind and the Stars
And the Sun and the Night,
And that who you are
Goes beyond every Plight
For who could fight
The Wind
And Win
When the Wind is Who You Are?

I dedicate this poem to the Tech Prep and W.A.L.I. members who so inspired me! Reach for the stars, for stars are what you are!  Love, Rebecca


Thursday, November 11, 2010

No. 111

I believe there is a point the artist can reach where s/he can no longer fear that she is an impostor. This fear is no longer an option, because the scale she once used to measure and judge her progress has been annihilated by love.  When she is armed with a technique that is formed out of the vocabulary of love, there there is only one goal, only one beginning, and only one purpose, forever more.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Quote of the Day 9: "The Rider" by Robert Frost

The surest thing there is is we are riders,
And though none too successful at it, guiders,
Through everything presented, land and tide
And now the very air, of what we ride.

What is this talked-of mystery of birth
But being mounted bareback on the earth?
We can just see the infant up astride,
His small fist buried in the bushy hide.

There is our wildest mount--a headless horse.
But though it runs unbridled off its course,
And all our blandishments would seem defied,
We have ideas yet that we haven't tried.    ~Robert Frost

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Quote of the Day 8: Meditation by Andrew Cohen

Be still. Let yourself relax. You don't need to make any effort. Just allow yourself to be deeply at ease. Then take the risk to release your attention to expand and flow free, detaching from any form of conceptual engagement with the mind. Allow your attention to become vast, wide, open, and clear. In that wide-open space, all kinds of things may come and go—thoughts, emotions, physical sensations—but don't focus your attention on any of them. Let your awareness expand in all directions, until it becomes so vast that you're paying attention to everything at the same time while not focusing on anything in particular. Keep letting your attention expand until awareness itself becomes the object of your attention. Keep letting your attention expand to infinity, until all the structures of the created universe begin to crumble and you start seeing through everything. Finally, when everything falls away, you will awaken, in your own experience, to the unborn, unmanifest Ground of Being, the empty void out of which the whole manifest world sprang into existence. In this place, nothing has ever happened. The universe has not yet emerged; you have not been born; even time itself has not yet begun. When you find this limitless no-place, then your deepest sense of yourself and of life itself will change from one of imprisonment and limitation to one of unqualified freedom.
~ Andrew Cohen

Saturday, October 23, 2010

No. 110: Of Treasures and Jewels

This post is at once the easiest and the most difficult expression of love and life that I have yet attempted.  It may fly in the face of many of the things I thought were important or true in childhood.  It may mean that I call my actions, my thoughts, my very being into account, here and now, by professing what I here wish to profess.  And if this is all too much drama to you, reader, then I will not apologize but I will remind you that I am an opera singer through and through.  Drama is my life: drama in the most real form, engulfed by Love, producing colors and feelings with vibrations that scoop me up to heaven on earth, in agonizing Love which can only be translated as Awe.

But why write of these things?  Why confess to the cyber world my dramatic heart?  Can I say anything more than what I did say to a friend the other day when we were having a spat?:

"Forgive me if this sounds dramatic but it sounds dramatic because that's what it IS.  It's DRAMA!"

When I think of the thousands of poetic words it can take to tell a heartbreakingly simple story in an opera, of course I must acknowledge that I could try the rest of my life to express Love in words and never get to the point because Love is already in each and every word I use.  It's like trying to show and alien race our actual anatomical hearts.  If we really wanted the aliens to see them we would have to stop, cut ourselves open, and allow the aliens to watch the beating of a heart.  And even then, have they really seen what a heart is?  Can they truly understand the magic, the wonder of what it means to be human by looking at a hunk of flesh?  No...they will need our best artists, our bests gurus, and our best scientists to come together and share all of their knowledge about how life works so that the can share a comprehensive knowledge of the human heart.  All the while, there is a human lying cut open on the operating table, heart exposed. 

In the interest of science and spirituality, and art, apparently I have made myself the ultimate volunteer for virtual open-heart surgery.  In this case my audience is not alien.  I am my own audience: observer and subject all at once, hoping that, though there is already infinite knowledge and infinite illustration of the discovery of love, she can contribute an attempt at sharing her own discoveries like a little girl who finds quartz in a gravel driveway and does not know it from a diamond.  In her world, rocks and stones are as beautiful as any jewel. 

This is a secret that I as an adult am being constantly reminded of by the little girl inside of me: I must remember and commit to the fact that what is truly important, what is really pivotal in my life may seem as inconsequential as a speck of dust to another.  It is a mystery of Love, a mystery of life: that for one person, life on earth is about finding what another might take for granted.  One wo/man's treasure is another wo/man's junk.  There is no right or wrong to this.  What makes us unique individuals is our ability to commit to our treasure and to have the courage to say what we are looking for, what we have found, without fear of ridicule or judgment from those who are looking for something completely different.  This is why I am no longer hesitant to share this post, though to some it may seem ridiculous or even blasphemous.  For how could a woman of sane mind say such things without consequence?  It might not fit in to the rules she learned in childhood.  It might not be understood! Worse yet, it might be misunderstood!

It is the possibility of misunderstanding which concerns me the most.  For me, the progression of my life has so gradually and beautifully expanded to this point that suddenly I can scream to the universe my deepest gratitude whereas before I could not.  I know that the particular person to whom this post is dedicated will understand and be honored by the fact that when I bow to him I bow to every moment and every person in my life, 'good' or 'bad', which led me to this realization, to this moment, to this love.  And I indeed may use the love that he has shown me as a springboard to leap into the rest of my life, whatever it may bring.

I am writing about my teacher, Jean-Ronald LaFond.  I am writing about him, and to him, because in our last conversation I observed myself saying

"You gave me back my life.  I am re-born."

On one hand, I so deeply believe this that the words came easily, steadily, clearly and rationally.  And on the other hand, as my fellow Christian-raised friends will understand, I felt as if I was perhaps sharply betraying the Savior I was taught of since infancy.  How can this be?

I can think of no other reason for these conflicting emotions than the fact that I have experienced Jesus Christ in human form, in the form of my teacher.

If the words I just typed caused ripples in you, reader, then I challenge you to question why millions of people around the world proclaim the existence of a Savior and yet do not have the courage to bring His presence literally down to Earth, to reality.

The experiences I have had on my own personal journey of awakening so far have been so vivid, so real, that I cannot in good conscience continue to tell the story of faith in metaphors and long-lost and gone teachers.  The searching for and the finding of love are real, and here, and now, and the stories we tell about the way we realize each step along the way inform the future of our life on earth.  Are we informing courage or conformity? uniqueness or acceptability? The choice is ours, now.

And with this post I proclaim my proud YES to the universe, in proper operatic form!

I knew way back in High School that it would take something pretty marvelous and powerful to pull me up out of wherever I was into who I truly needed to be to be the kind of singer I wanted to be.  It is a unique person indeed whose only vivid memories from high school are when she was on stage and when she was on a horse.  Where did all the rest of the memories go?  This lost memory was the missing key, the blaring fog horn that accompanied me through music conservatory, where my memories are of my time at the horse barn, the Lieder I learned, my good friends at German House and the friends who tolerated me in the Vocal Arts Lab.  Also from that time, many memories lost led me to ask: Who am I truly? completely? What does it mean to live free from shame, openly and proudly who I am?

I could now go in to the myriad of ways my confidence was dashed, my senstive spirit crushed, and the importance of understanding repressed memories for pages and pages here.  But it would be like arguing the value of my beloved quartz found in the driveway compared to a woman's coveted diamond ring. It would be fruitless!  What matters is what is important here and now.  That is, that I have found love.

One of the dangers that a singer faces is over-identification with her voice.  We see it every once in a while: a great singer experiences a tragedy and can no longer sing.  Her 'life is over'.  We see it in retired singers who, though they may have had great careers, now struggle with the meaning of life and pass their lack of understanding on by wreaking havoc in masterclasses full of young singers looking for answers themselves.  Yes, it is very dangerous to over-identify with our voices.

I was in danger of that for a while, I believe.  It may have even been the cause of the lost memories.  I suspect I may never know the real reason for that.  But I do know that what I now say of my Sensei I once believed only of horses: Horses saved me. My Sensei has saved me.

I knew this much about horses before I could even articulate it.  To sit on a horse who is giving its heart and soul one-hundred-percent to the joy of being alive is the same as flying through heaven itself.  Horses are the ultimate expression of love: power, passion, movement, unabashed exuberance. Get on a horse and you are forced to leave all your worries behind: all you can take with you is Love, because that's the only thing that can keep up with the wind.

For a long time I was caught between the realization of my passion on one hand and the lack of expertise to express it on the other.  Any artist who has been through the struggle of finding herself will recognize the pain.  How can you know the power of Love and not know how to express it?

When I think of the Classical Schools and all of the students that follow their teachings, adding in every student's personal history and personality, it is amazing that we are still speaking of the Classical Schools and not a bunch of borderline crazy individuals bouncing around calling themselves artists.  In some circles there is indeed talk like that, but, really, how is it that we ever hear great singing anymore?  How can it be possible for the modern human to dig through all of the relative 'junk' we are handed to find her true voice, to become a sane and real artist?

I believe it has to do with our teachers.  It is a rare teacher indeed who wields a sword sharp enough to cut through all of our frail humanity to the infinite flow of Love that is below the surface, indeed beyond the layers upon layers of "life" we have spent our time accumulating, which we think make us who we are.  It takes an excellent teacher of almost unparalleled wisdom to teach that who we are is the same as Love, the same as Music, the same as that current to Heaven that can carry us onward in song or on horseback.

Most importantly, it is rare to find a teacher with such a commitment to technique which makes his sword sharper than any other.  It is our human knowledge that has brought us so close to understanding matter and energy that we are *this close* to being able to glimpse God through science.  We have so much knowledge in our world, that without a skilled teacher to show us how to follow a map to our unique treasure, we will be lost. 

I could have also become lost on my way to my voice.  It was not until I realized Love that my particular treasure could be put into perspective.  When a singer believes that who she is is her life experience, how can she let go and ride the current of Love which she knows has the power to whisk her away into music?

In my most recent voice lesson, Jean-Ronald and I were addressing the "small voice".  Finally I have come to the point in my vocal development where I am strong enough to begin producing a truly supported pppp in my true, full voice.  Almost immediately I felt such strong emotional response to the exercise that I felt choked with emotion.  It took me a while to understand that what was reacting in me was a ghost of past experience:  often times this "small voice" exercise had been handed to me before I was ready for it, kind of like a trying to heal a disease with a vitamin.  This lead to disaster.  For a young woman who identified so closely with her voice, not being able to perform this crucial exercise was suffocating.

In the spirit of the openness we have between us as student and teacher, Jean-Ronald and I talked through this.  He even indulged my need to express my frustration as I spoke to my invisible 'ghosts', literally, in the corner of the studio.  But what was truly special, what inspired my ever-deepening Love for him, and what inspired this post, was what he did next.  I remember he smiled, gave a little chuckle, and looked me, raving drama queen, in the eye, saying "You'll get it. Just desire it."  Then he closed the book, rumpled my hair, and we said goodbye.

That, my friends, was the final sword stroke, the cut that went as deep as it could go and let loose the torrents of Love into my life.  You see, this has very little to do with singing.  Yet it has everything to do with hope, patience, grace, humility, confidence in something much deeper than who we often think we are.  It's about opening up our hearts as far as we can until we hit liquid gold.  It's about trusting the tour guides life has chosen for us to follow to the depths of who we are.  It's about believing, indeed knowing, that these guides are here, and now, in our midst.

Because I have already unabashedly equated him to Jesus Christ in this post, I will hesitate to call Jean-Ronald an angel.  And for a list of his faults I believe all you would have to do is sit down with him for a beer because he is one of the most humble men I know.  But if you want to learn to sing, I mean really sing, beyond singing itself, he is the one and only guide I know, and to know him I am eternally grateful.

Signing (and singing) off,


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

No. 109

When the singer finally admits that what she is ultimately looking for is Love, then her search, her path, becomes suddenly simpler: Love, her Self, and her Voice have become one. In striving to understand one of the three she cannot help but know the others.

Monday, October 18, 2010

No. 108

The singer is at once in a love and a hate relationship with her voice. In the times when she loves herself, she loves her voice. The greatest challenge is to love the very thing, the very desire, that whittles the singer down to nothing by its sheer nature, its demand to stretch her breath, her heartbeat, her thoughts, her imagination, to house all of its strength and passion. Out of the nothingness that is gradually left of the singer as she is trained by her Master Teacher (her Sensei), music is birthed. Her voice can sing...she is her voice...all questions fall away and there is only song. But first she must realize Love. For the nothingness of hatred is another kind of nothingness: the illusion of the absence of Love. And the pull of this illusion is so strong that it can tempt the singer to deny her voice, to deny herself, to deny Love. So, whenever the singer hates her voice or in any other way tries to disparage or belittle or ignore her desire to sing, she only has to step back and see that, no matter what she thinks or how she happens to be feeling, there is only Love. She is only Love. Her voice is only Love. The only relationship is one of Love. I am fascinated by the possibility of transfusing vocal pedagogy with this knowledge. I believe that, at least, my vocation, my calling, is to live this truth in my own relationship to my singing, to my voice, to my self.

Quote of the Day 7

Spirit In Action Is Freedom & Creativity
Unmanifest Spirit is freedom. Manifest Spirit is creativity. And when we realize that the process of life is Spirit in action, then ideally we would aspire for our lives to become an unceasing manifestation of its multidimensional nature. We would expect our actions to embody its most significant qualities. That means we would be expressing freedom and creativity in and through the way that we live the gift of life. And this would occur both as the spontaneous expression of a liberated heart and mind and as the practice of evolutionarily enlightened living.
~ Andrew Cohen

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Quote of the Day 6

"We're not lookin' for your money. We're lookin' for your voice." --Bono

Friday, October 8, 2010

No. 108

If every woman on earth was trained as a singer in the true, deepest, most thorough Classical School by a Master Teacher, domestic violence, rape, abuse of all sorts would be obliterated and never considered a factor in the collective existence of women again. We would have all found our most unquestionable personal power, and the world would resonate with the same beauty of voice with which God called forth the birthing of the Universe. And here I speak not only of 'women' as a physical sex, but as the female essence which is present in every human. If we want to save the women and children of the world, in whatever form they take (inside us and outside), we will learn to truly sing as if our lives depend on it, which, of course, they do. It is every individual's responsibility to examine their lives and arrive to the point where they know they are thoroughly, honorably, on the Path to deliverance out of lies in to truth, out of hate in to love. This palpable love is what makes Classical Singing great, at the highest levels. Singing heals. Its equivalents heal. Why would we not want to teach this to our children?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

No. 107

A singer on the Singer's Way is constantly aware of, and deeply respectful of, her inner compass.

Quote of the Day 5

A Spiritually Inspired Moral Imperative

When you begin to recognize that your own presence here in this world is part of something infinitely bigger than yourself, you feel a sense of obligation awakening within you—a spiritually inspired, soul-level moral imperative to evolve for the sake of the future of the evolutionary process itself. The way you respond to that obligation and to that sense of cosmic responsibility is by demonstrating that the process is profoundly positive—indeed, the process is sacred—through your own example, through your own victory, through your own tangible and unmistakable higher development.
~ Andrew Cohen

Friday, October 1, 2010

No. 106

The desire to sing is what pulls the authentic spirit of the singer to the surface of her existence. It is also what obliterates every effort she ever made to sing, as it shows her her own re-birthing, to which she can only respond with awe and gratitude that is as deep and wide as life itself.

Saul Williams: Another Absolute Gem

Saul Williams: A Treasure Along the Path.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Quote of the Day 4

Enlightened Free Agency

When the context for our human choices expands to embrace the infinite depths of our cosmic identity, then our unique power of free agency becomes informed and enlightened by the limitless passion of the energy and intelligence that initiated the creative process.

~ Andrew Cohen

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Thoughts from Stockholm Nos. 106-120


Why is singing so terrifying for some people? Because they have not learned the principles, have not gone through the process of learning to sing so that the experience of singing becomes satisfying. Ultimately singing can become more than satisfying for the singer. It could even become ecstatic. And until the singer does enough justice to her voice that the experience of singing at least becomes satisfying, she will never be free from what other people think of her or her singing. Ecstasy will remain far from her reach. We would not want to sing if singing could not feel like heaven.


No. 107

When we use our head to find our way to our heart the mind eventually figures out that it's plotted and committed its own demise on many levels.


No. 108

Our bodies provide not just a road map with which to follow our emotions when it comes to our experience on Earth. They are instruments of the Heart, which, when free from past hurts and judgment, can be gently, and with all honor and respect, guided by the mind to produce magic of the greatest proportions.


No. 109

Why does the singer love her Master Teacher? Because, gradually, he has handed her soul Heaven where once there was only Hell, the brightest colors where once there was only darkness--jewels where there once was dire poverty--and her True Self which shines through all past confusion and fear.


No. 110

There is a place I am aware of which is more than a place inside me--it's an experience--how can a place exist in me, only in time? I think of my life now as pre-"It" and post-"It". Before I knew what I was dealing with I could only guess at the true beauty of this life. Now that, day after day, I experience more and more of the "It" that drives us, my heart wants to spread her wings and join It and my mind wants to be blown to bits in its ecstasy. How completely irresponsible of me.


No. 111

Sometimes what's cooking beneath the surface of life is the most fascinating. We must never forget that, no matter how lack-luster or frustrating life may seem, the "It" is working in our hearts, minds, and bodies in ways we cannot quite grasp fully and which we may only answer with a silent prayer of the deepest thanks.


No. 112

Love is still love no matter how dysfunctional it is, just as singing is still singing no matter how incorrect the technique. In both singing and in loving, purity is our guide to longevity, health, and functionality.


No. 113

The False Voice has as many faces as the Ego can imagine. The True Voice is God's original intention. Its one face is unmistakable.


No. 114

Singing has to do with the deepest levels of human life: gut emotions, instincts, and desires. A Master of the Classical School of singing, when armed with a technique which is pure enough, has the tools to open the treasure trove of a human heart. Only the student has the key to that treasure trove. No one else can open it, especially not the Master Teacher. When the student does open it, finally, she discovers her Master, and her love, already there.


No. 115

The mistake we can make is in taking something like opera and classical singing too lightly. We so easily describe it as "elitist" and "pretentious", perhaps even "obnoxious". And when we have the courage to see why this happens, we understand why the most powerful forces of Love have been similarly ridiculed throughout the history of humanity: a mirror to the soul, a pathway to the heart often uncovers that which we do not want to see. When it It takes over, when the Voice demands total organic presence in the singer's life, it must own every part of her. This means it must own all of her humanity, light and dark: chiaro and oscuro. We take the technique of singing so lightly because we are not courageous enough to consider that what we hear on the outside of a singer as she sings could be the very internal picture of who she is as a person, who we are as people. An art form with such a power for revealing truth will naturally come under attack and be subject to all of our very human attempts to "clean up" our acts. Classical singing is as "dirty" as it gets. A key to its survival is our open acknowledgment of this fact. It is the opposite of putting opera on a pedestal.


No. 116

A Master Teacher does not assign labels. Rather he waits patiently for them to arrive from the Essence of who we are, like the colors in a mosaic made of jewels: a mosaic which both teacher and student know intimately already, even as it shows itself, like a dream never before remembered in lucidity.


No. 117

If we created an environment where love was paramount and where it was the student's responsibility to make herself available to a vocal technique that is as pure as it could be, the there would be no unheard voices ever again. Of course, the most important requirement would be that the student must be as dedicated to the "It" as humanly possible, which means s/he must give her all to It.


No. 118

What if we combined our knowledge of human consciousness and depelopment with what we know about vocal technique? If we did, then we singers would not only be aware that we are an integral part in the rEvolution of our species, but that our art form has been enlightening singers and audiences for centuries already.


No. 119

"There could only be one truth, and each vague answer or uncertainty led to more intense interrogation."~Stieg Larsson. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, p. 391


No. 120

Humanity's most fascinating capability is our ability to own our darkness. The freedom that comes from this ownership releases our ability to choose between True Self or Its negative, Its ghost--Its opposite, Its parody. Where we run in to trouble is in thinking that the It does not exist in our darkness. In our misunderstanding of true purity we mistakingly strangle the full existence of the It in our lives. In our search for the purest light we demonize the darkness. In truth the light makes love to darkness, every moment of every day of our lives. Paradoxically it is not the acceptance of darkness that creates pathology in our experience. It is our attempt to ignore darkness, or to do away with it which causes true perversion and confusion. This is why every artist must embrace the light and dark, the chiaroscuro, the Sturm und Drang of her existence to be absolutely sure that her art is pure. This is the student's vocation. It is the Master Teacher's job to provide an unquestionably accurate road map which can serve as a prayer labyrinth in and out of both darkness and light, until the student emerges certain that there is nothing to fear within her or without. Then true art, and true life, can begin.

Monday, September 13, 2010

No. 105

Learning to sing is learning to allow Love through the voice. That's why when it's done correctly, singing is like being embraced by the Divine.

Monday, September 6, 2010

No. 104

tell me who you were
before you knew
you could do anything
and you will be telling me
the most bittersweet lie
we’ve ever been told

Saturday, September 4, 2010

No. 103

Open to the deepest despair,
to the hottest anger,
to the most desperate love
and a joy that encompasses every emotion,
the singer lives,
inside out,
ready to meet the world
because the world is nothing
if it is not blowing wide open
the compassionate heart expressed
by a voice that belongs to us all.

Monday, August 30, 2010

No. 102

It is Love that saves the singer. It is Love that makes her invincible, Love which bolsters her, which makes her believe in her survival and thriving. It is only, and ultimately, Love.

Friday, August 27, 2010

No. 101

How can a Voice be an "It"? I tell you, It Is. As truly as I Am.

No. 100

What is "Our Voice"? What is "Our Horse"? How can Spirit be so defined? What constitutes ownership of a piece of heaven?

Face to face with a Voice, any Voice, including our own, we may accept responsibility for loving, making safe, cherishing, and healing this Voice. When we embrace this responsibility we are Voice Whisperers who coax the shining truth of vocal beauty from a place that is sometimes far from truth. Ideally we are observers of Spirit in Song: a Voice which is free and beautiful, and which rejoices at being allowed to be, complete and true.

Face to face with a Horse, any Horse, not only our own, we are responsible for that Horse's happiness, security, joy, and well-being for the moments we are with it. We are Horse Whisperers who coax true ecstatic Beingness of Spirit from a place which is sometimes dark with the ignorance of humanity forcing beauty instead of allowing it. Ideally we are observers of Spirit in Fluid Movement: a Horse which is proud, aware, unafraid, and ecstatic for being alive.

Ownership is not having, it is allowing. We own no Horse if she does not want to be with us; we own no Voice if we do not muster the joy and all she needs to sing.

A Horse and a Voice call us to Heaven just by being who they are. Thank God.

No. 99

Singers and riders have this in common: we have an Entity with which me may move, work, and play. Some call this Entity Spirit; some call it The Wind. I call it the very Essence of Who We Are. Indeed to live like a great rider or a great singer, is to understand life, at least while we are in this heavenly communion with our Horse or with our Voice, to the furthest extent we may understand Life in these bodies, on this Earth.

No. 98

It is awesome to watch your horse teach you how to ride, just as it is awesome to watch your voice teach you how to sing.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Friday, August 20, 2010

No. 97

All great performers of music have practiced the art of feeling the ecstasy of who they are to the extent that they want to feel it, no matter who is watching or not.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

No. 96

When the singer gets to the point where the Voice, or the It, is as sacred to them as any other living being, suddenly there is clarity. There is accountability, reason, and focus, awe and wonder, and the spontaneous realization of true, unconditional Love.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

No. 95

The blossom of my heart
unfurls like life's layers
peeling back
to truth

from striving to define
leav(e)ing me
bleeding, reaching
for (stay/men)
and petals
which, soft,
exquisite, seem to
protect from sun
too bright
for seeds
in germination

remain unfurled!
this beauty
cannot be con/tested
in a world where truth
has been tasted
in misty rains
from heaven's mountaintops,
fed with the bodies
of a thousand ancestral trees.

you are Love Herself
and I Am
the opposite
of ashamed.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Friday, July 23, 2010

No. 93

If Art could be seen universally not just as something that we do, but as something that we are, we would not be losing it from our education system. It would be seen as inherent as breath and life itself to our children, the very hope for our future as a country, and as a world.

No. 92

Call me onward
Envelope me
In silence
To where Who I Am
With acceptance
To where I have no doubt
I can open my mouth
And sing the Truth
Of Who We Are
In peace,
And in Light Eternal.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

No. 91

What if "incorrect" vocal technique is just us trying to be something we are not? Who are we? We are ecstasy in motion. Is it possible to sing, truly, as we are? I believe, yes. I believe that when we sing in a way that it brings us joy on every imaginable level, we are singing as we truly are.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

No. 90

When we can be in a way that what we do does not change who we are, then we are seamless with Spirit. When what we do is the same as who we are, then we are living magic.

No. 89

How do I know when I'm singing well? The horses do not change at the sound of my voice. It is one with who they are, and I am in awe of what it means to be alive.

Monday, July 19, 2010

No. 88

May my mind to be blown to smithereens by Love, so that my heart can think for it. And may the thoughts of this blown-away mind be broad enough to embrace every feeling of which I am capable.

This post is dedicated to Kammersaengerin Hilde Zadek, who first told me that the key to singing is to think with my heart and feel with my head. Thank you for all you taught me, great Diva!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

No. 87

Our True Self is reward, affirmation, blessing, safety and reason enough to continue on whatever path, wherever and whenever we find ourselves. Love swallows even the concept of "enough" until the true We is left standing in awe, arms outstretched in all our glory, aware that we live and have lived for Eternity, and nothing less.

No. 86

What do horses and opera have in common? They both require us to enter into the world of Spirit to experience the truth of what each of them is. It is a world which encompasses all that we are, picks us up on the wings of beauty, and demands all from us, always. In experiencing the truth of what a horse is, the truth of what opera is, we experience the truth of what and who we are.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

No. 85

SHe laid claim to all that I am
welling up and unfurling
with the gentle, inevitable insistence
only Love can wield.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Quote of the Day 3

My crown is in my heart, not on my head;
Not deck'd with diamonds and Indian stones,
Nor to be seen: my crown is call'd content;
A crown it is that seldom kings enjoy.

From Henry VI Part III, William Shakespeare

Thursday, July 8, 2010

No. 84

We can only be as kind to another Being as we are to ourselves. In order for the voice to emerge from us as beautifully as it possibly can be, a part of us at least must know love, and act as if the voice is precious and invaluable, worthy of cherishing and celebrating, like a friend in our care. If Classical Singing could be viewed by the world as more than simply beautiful and masterful sound, but as a commitment to what most deeply defines the value of humanity, there would be no talk or worry of its extinction.

To the Editor

To the Editor,

I was not shocked to hear of the recent cutting of Music from the Dallas Elementary School curriculum. It is natural to want to save money in this time of economic change which is seen as uncertain by so many. However, I am certain that the Dallas School District is not aware of how grave the consequences are of their decision to cut Music Education in the crucial young years of our children’s development. Those who live and work outside the field of music performance are often not aware that music is a language. It is as crucial to some people as English or Spanish, or any mother tongue, for expressing the truth of who they are. By not allowing young children access to the vocabulary of music as a language, we are in effect muting that crucial avenue of expression in the age where our children are most thirsting for ways to express themselves. From my perspective, as a singer and artist, had I been deprived of music as a child, it would have been the same as depriving me of light, or food, or love itself. Anyone who has truly and deeply felt the power of great music knows that I do not exaggerate. Therefore, I ask the City of Dallas to reconsider. And if it’s too late to make budget changes for this year, let’s let music waft up from unexpected places for our children. Get them in church choirs, encourage them to sing with the radio, allow a little more ‘noise‘ around the house: that banging on the trash can lid is music! It may sound like desperation, but a soul without means to express itself is a desperate thing indeed.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

No. 83

What is authenticity? Authenticity is allowing all that is not us to fall away until what remains is the purest expression of who we truly are. Who are we truly? Trying to explain who we truly are is like trying to give emotion to a sparkling jewel. It's like trying to harness the wind. It's like trying to squelch life itself. How, then, do we honor who we truly are, if we cannot explain it? We be it. That is all.

Quote of the Day 1

"Follow your bliss." --Joseph Campbell

Monday, July 5, 2010

Beverly Hoch - Proch's Variations Aria

No. 82

What is "off the mark non-singing"? There really is no such thing! In fact, even someone who says they cannot sing and will not sing is "on the mark" when it comes to singing, because their Source is 100% capable of singing and therefore they are already singing, through their latent Source. This is why I always smile when someone tells me they can't sing. It's about pure potentiality. For whether we allow it fully or not, the Source of who we are is always singing. So, in a way, whenever we attempt to sing we ARE singing perfectly! The degree to which we allow ourselves to truly sing determines the percentage of authenticity in the sound. Even if someone sings with only .01% authenticity, that .01% makes the singing authentic! That's why we never have to worry if we're on the mark or not, because we ARE on the mark...all we have to do is become as much as possible one with the mark itself. Become the Source of music and you are always 100% "on".

This knowledge is incredibly empowering, because when we listen to a singer that seems to be impeded in some way on their path to true expression, we have a broader perspective that does not allow us to label anyone's singing "bad" or "off"...the singer's voice can only be somewhere along the path of its development toward freedom, and what could be "bad" or "off" about that?

But what about the person without vocal cords? Or the one who breathes or speaks with difficulty? Well, I say the presence of life is the presence of song, and every living thing, as long as there is life in it, is singing, just by being alive! What a fantabulous thing it is to be a singer, where our one and only job is to find out how to be more and more alive, until music flows through us in song like it was merely breath, the most basic thing of our human existence.

Lately I've been listening to Beverly Hoch, a coloratura that Jean-Ronald recommended I listen to. If I've ever seen and heard a singer who is at the 100% allowing-the-music place, it is her! In fact, I think she is teaching me a new scale of measuring greatness when it comes to listening to singers. She, in her simple joy and authenticity, inspired this post. Thank you Jean-Ronald for this awesome treasure!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

No. 81

It does not matter what you sing. It matters how you sing it. One could even go so far as to say that if you are attempting to sing in a way that misses the mark, you are not singing at all. Thus the most important thing for a student of singing to know above all else is why they sing. When they know why, they know how.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

No. 80

The Source, the impulse of great opera is omnipresent. This is why there is no danger that opera will ever go extinct. It's why there will always be great singers, because there will always be people who understand that great music is an expression of the deepest part of us, and that to sing that music we must access the part of us from where that music comes. Great opera, contrary to popular belief, is accessible to anyone who is willing to be open to it and to let it in.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

No. 79

What if Classical Singing was developed not only because it sounds heavenly, but because it feels heavenly? What if we have, in our analysis of how a singer ecstatically sings, lost connection with the Source of this ecstasy as we try to understand 'It'? What if every singer reconnected to 'It'?? Then we could change the world of opera, not only bringing it back to 'what it was', but reviving it in a way that could change the world. No one could ever ask "What is opera?" or "Why opera?" because in experiencing it, every question we have would be answered.

No. 78

The coolest thing about opera is that the tears it makes us shed are not tears of sadness but tears of gratitude for this art form that allows the soul to release our response to a story of the pain of human existence in the context of incredible beauty. Opera gives us an external example of what could be our internal experience. What blessings, and what joy! Thank God, thank God.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

No. 77

Let our voice mine for the true us and all else will be blown heavenward to become one with Love. Letting it in, we share in the blessed ecstasy that angels in all forms on Earth teach us to feel. Thank God for those who know what it is to sing!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Bitte hör nicht auf zu träumen

No. 76

When we are completely, irrevocably, persistently aware of the Love that is us, then it is safe to open our hearts, for we see, we understand, that no doors were ever needed, no true keys to the locks we thought kept us safe ever made, no walls have kept us in and others out...Love has swallowed us whole, brought us back to the place of our birthing, and there is no place else to go, no place else to be, but Here.

Following My Calling: Installment 1

Recently I've realized the purpose for my life. This was not an easy process. Think of a chick knocking relentlessly on its shell, trying to get out and only making a hairline fracture progress day by day. Then imagine she finally gets a chunk of the shell gone, pokes her head through, and promptly gets it stuck there, reminiscent of some hideous cartoon character. Next come her feet, set free so she can walk, but there are still layers to be free from--there is still a part of her craving the sun and her Mother's love, that needs destroyed, that needs cracking...that needs, over time, simply to disintegrate and fall away.

Sometimes my process of realization felt like that. And sometimes it felt, to use another farm girl metaphor, like I was the little kitten who, when I recently went out to the barn to feed the donkeys, was brutally and quite literally flung from her mother's womb when I inadvertently interreupted the feral cat in labor under the hay pile. Sometimes it felt like that: I was shockingly vulnerable, covered in placenta, stuck with pieces of hay and straw, propelled into this new world of "My Calling" without any preparation, without any explanation, without the comfort of the womb I had gotten so used to. It was a pain that went beyond knowing, a sadness and despair that could not even be spoken of, a feeling of abandonment and confusion that was so inherent in the experience of being me that I could not even put thought or words to it.

When I saw this little kitten, still in its placental sack, on the barn floor, I acted without thinking. My animal husbandry instincts are so finely tuned that I knew, without having to remind myself, that I could not touch this precious little being. If I touched it with my human hands, her terrified mother would never own it, never love it, and it would surely die. Even if I moved it carefully I would be interfering with Mother Nature's course and disallowing any possible future relationship that the kitten could have with its true mother. I would be destroying life in an attempt to save it. So I did what was the hardest thing for me, in all of my mothering instincts, to do: I walked slowly, silently away. And I stayed away for a half hour, knowing that raccoons and possums and tomcats, all who are immediate threats to young kittens, walk through the barn at every hour of the day and night. I walked away, because I knew that I had no power to save this little, vulnerable baby. Something bigger had to do the work, something much more powerful and wiser than I had to take control. I had to trust, beyond my heart-breaking desire to "make it all better" and to "save the world". I had to let go.

In the process of recognising and finding my true calling, I feel like I've been every character in this slightly gruesome tale. I've been the terrified mother cat, interrupted in what could have been a gorgeous moment of becoming. I've been myself, of course, witness to the "tragedy" and wanting to make it all better. And, yes, I've been the abandoned kitten, lost and alone on the barn floor.

I used to think that each of these characters, Me in Flight, Me Wanting to Take Control, and Me in Despair, defined who I am. I was lost in the midst of the drama all around me, not knowing, and therefore not trusting, that there is a way to faith, and that all will turn out well.

When I came back to the barn after spending that agonizing half hour away, I did not know what to expect. I was prepared for the worst. As a kid growing up on the farm I've seen it all, and I did not want to see yet another example of Mother Nature's brutal "give and take". This time I knew where the mama was nesting down, and I took it slow, listening to the high-pitched mews that only newly born kittens make, and the incessant, blissful purring from the mother that is the loudest, most contented purr any cat on earth has ever emanated. I peeked under the bale of hay and saw the mama there, licking her babies furiously, nipples upturned and ready to nourish her them, now no longer traumatized from being ripped from the womb, but thirsting for all the goodness in life, and all the love that was there waiting for them.

Love saved that little kitten. It is a love that is indescribable, uncontrollable. It moves on its own, beyond thought and beyond explanation. Love kept the raccoons and tomcats away, and gave the wild mama cat a courage driven by motherly instincts that outweighed her fear of humans. Love created this incident, not to distress me and to make me weep at the lack of control that I have over Nature and her ways, but to play for me a beautiful movie, an opera on the stage of "real life", which could heal my heart and show me that, indeed, all is well, and the Mystery of Life takes care of everything.

Sometimes the characters in this story shift in my mind. Sometimes the abandoned baby is my voice. Sometimes it's my soul, or my heart. Sometimes the Me That Walked Away is my Master Teacher Jean-Ronald. Sometimes it's my Higher Self. Sometimes, though less frequently than before, I am the Terrified Mother, ready to give it all up to save what I think is "Me", even in the face of no danger at all. And, sometimes, in fact, yes, all of the time, I am Love herself, living in the space of allowing and rejoicing in even the most difficult of circumstances.

I thank God and all of Her Love for this experience, for the way that She gives us metaphors, all around us, for interpreting what goes on in the world inside us. I thank God for the chance to be Love, to live Love, and to let go in the midst of all Her glory.

I thank God that She comes down from Love, as Love, in so many ways, so that we can find Her in all things--which is our calling, after all.

No. 75

Faith is a gift we give ourselves.

This Morning in Oregon

No. 74

As singers we are often told that to be successful, to be authentic, to follow our calling, we must let the Voice "out". What we learn over time however, is that the Voice can only be allowed "out" if IT is first allowed "in": completely in, all-encompassingly in, until IT saturates every cell of our bodies...until IT embraces every thought, informs every movement, and is with us whether we are singing or not!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"Ein unberechenbarer Prozess" by Andrew Cohen

Ein unberechenbarer Prozess

Evolution ist ein unberechenbarer Prozess. Wer also wirklich etwas Neues in die Welt bringen will, muss bereit sein, Fehler zu machen, Irrwege zu gehen oder gar zu scheitern — aber nie aufzugeben. Die Wahrheit ist: Wenn es dir wichtiger ist, nicht zu scheitern, als wirklich erfolgreich zu sein, wirst du es nie schaffen. Wenn du wirklich Erfolg haben willst, dann musst du großherzig sein, heldenhaften Willen, Ausdauer und Mut entwickeln, um die Verpflichtung einzugehen, furchtlos im evolutionären Prozess mitzuwirken — so lang, bis etwas Fundamentales, Geheimnisvolles und Außergewöhnliches geschieht, dass nicht mehr rückgängig zu machen ist.

Andrew Cohen

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

No. 73

The true we is just the other side of fear. If fear is love turned inside out, if we are looking for ourselves and we find fear, we must face it, live with it, jump head first into it, until its discomfort forces us, with the power that creates galaxies, to be who we truly are.

Friday, June 11, 2010

No. 72

Completion comes
when we allow
to be molded
to the shape of the universe
which calls us to think past
what we believe we know

Our insides
are as intricate
as a million galaxies
with a billion trillion stars
stretching from day to day
beyond recognition,
beyond comfort,
God's growing pains:
black holes and star bursts,
the disappearing of lies
and the spontaneous realization
of Truth,
show us what it means
to be reborn
with every breath

turn me
inside out
and you will see the night sky.

when I know your heart
I will know each constellation
by name
and I will have a map
(so beautifully drawn
on your road to Now)
which leads only to Love

for there will be no place
where you are
that I am not

and no place where I am
that is not you.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Die Stimme

"Wenn meine Seele nicht mehr spricht, dann habe ich diesen Kampf verloren." --Xavier Naidoo

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

No. 71

When my heart skips a beat
You are here
holding my soul
like a thousand rose petals that fall
softly through Your hands
to fly on the wind,
Your breath, Your life
takes mine away gently
and makes it more.

Söhne Mannheims - Geh davon aus (Official Video)(HQ)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

No. 70

Classical Art is Love, refined. The Classical School is the refiner's fire.

Friday, May 21, 2010

We Are Survivors

The Search for Voice can take us
to the most barren, lonely lands
where fear and despair
run like salt water through our hands
We have identity
not even our tears can give clarity
about who we are supposed to be...
but hydroelectricity
is not a too recent invention
and with Love as our intention
we use the flow
of what we do know
to show us what we need:
knowledge that whispers
knowledge that screams
it speaks in emotions
like Mother Earth's never-ending springs
and hope flows under the surface
like ever-growing grace
Turn desolation to opportunity
Make an about-face:
be skeptical of every certainty
become a living Quest-ion
walking in Eternity!
It's can be lonely, yes, but if you are true
to all it is that you must do
to be all it is that you must be
it will become ever easier to see
your next step to saving

No. 69

For the voice to be there, you must be there. Where is there? What does it mean to be you? If you are a singer, the Classical School can show you how, and who, you are.

It's My Life (Unplugged) - Bon Jovi

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

No. 68

Question: Could the degree of understanding and freedom of our outer singing voice mirror the depth of understanding we have of our inner voice?

Awaken to your True Voice and you awaken to your True Self.

Outer expression is inner reflection.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The SpotLight: Dedicated to the DHS Advanced Theater Singers

In the SpotLight
(where you long to be)
you are invited
to step in
to Eternity.


breath seems to stop:


Deep in the core of You
you hear ticking...a clock...?

that becomes a Time

"Who am I? What am I? And how do I make it STOP?
I'm too late
I'm really wrong
I'm off
I don't know the words to this song!

I'm too ugly, I'm too small.
I'm too fat, I'm too tall.

How do I stop it?!? Where can I hide?
Oh God, there must be someplace inside

where I
can just...

And so you do.

You leave.

You have the right.
You hold the map, you own the key
To what it really means to be Free:

"What is it anyway?
And why must I care?
I've got all I need
Food to eat and air
to breathe...

But here I cannot breathe. I do not have the air. What is it now? What is it that I need?

Whispers of childhood, traces of dreams, ecstasy I've tasted and...

Can it be

if I can taste it!?
If I can feel it?...if I can want it...?
if I

Is it truly my 'plight'
to be this way,
to always have to fight
to always have to say

'...let me be, World!
Just let me be!
Only alone
can I possibly be free
from this ticking clock,
from all this pain...
alone I am safe
alone I am sane!

Get me out of the SpotLight!
I didn't want it

You can take flight
from the Stage:
find a measure of Light
(in the SpotLight's absence)
far far away
where no one can come
and no one can say
"you are dumb"
for being who you are,
for wanting what you want,
for standing in the Light--
don't worry, this feeling
is right.
it's good, this place--
it's where you need to be

for a little while.

Though after some time
maybe a day
or two...
it could be many
or just a few

It starts to get lonely
in this place to where you flew

And you think
"wouldn't it be fun
to go out and play?
wouldn't it be fun to see the Light of day?"

Fear leads you
straight to what you need.

It's not bad
oh no...indeed
the tears that Fear makes flow
show you where you must go!

the Key to finding
what's True inside
has been hidden from you
in this frantic race:
your struggle to keep up
the maddening pace
just one step
of Fear,
that Time Bomb ticking relentlessly
in your ear

Until one day you stop and say

"What if...?"

What if Fear is tricking you?
What if
Fear is not something to fear
but rather
to WHO
you really are
and what you really love:
the one key to opening the skies up above?

Away from the dark storms of being alone
Away from that feeling of having that huge stone
hold you down deep in your gut
making you want to do anything but
who you really are.

What if your Key is hidden
because you do not see
that Fear itself
began your plea
for Freedom
from uncertainty
where you knew
how to be safe
but not
how to be Free?

If Fear is the Key to You, to Heart and to Soul, what could you do? Who could you be? How do you find this elusive Key?

Stand tall!
Stand True!

And follow your Fear
Chase it down!
Don't let her play with you
don't let her push you around!
Search up hill and through dale
no precipice can make you pale
For every place you go
She will always let you know
She's there
which means you're close
to your Goal

Until one day...

you catch up to your Fear!
between a sob and a tear
she's just...there...suddenly
between that hollow in your gut
and the choking in your throat.

"Fear? It's nice to meet you! What a special day!
Love this place you've got here, wouldn't you say
it's a nice place to live, a nice home to give
my aching Heart
that's been running away
from YOU?
I think I'll take over
what do you say?"

And Fear, in Her gentle voice, replies:

"I was wondering when you would care enough
to get to know me."

At that, you stand stock-still,
alongside your Fear
and realize
it's not so uncomfortable here.
What you said in sarcasm
could really be true
why have you been running
when there's nothing wrong with you?
Why did you ever run? Why did you ever...
She really seems like such a dear!

So you and Fear talk away the night
and in the wee hours of the morning
you see there's a Light
in this place
beyond tension and Uncertainty: the place of Letting Go...

a small
small candle
burning bright
with a flame that spits
Like it wants to grow
Like it just might...
and suddenly you know
what you've always wanted:

You ask, since you and Fear are becoming fast Friends
"Fear? What is this place? What is this space?
And why do I feel like we're floating?"

"An excellent question"
Fear says in her kindness,
"This place is the Center of You."

"But how could that be?
I do not know this part of me...
it feels..."

"like Eternity?"
Fear says with a joyous smile
and you watch
as with a sweep of her hand
all around you dissolves to darkness and
billions of little points of Light
just like the one you discovered
at the Center of You
fill the night

"What are they?!" you exclaim--

Suddenly Fear feels again like Fright!

"They are your friends"
says Fear.
"everyone you know...and some, well not quite

"But how could that be? How do you know??
I'm not sure I like this...maybe I should go..."

"You cannot" says Fear
"You have come too far...
there is nowhere to go
once you've found your star."

"What do you mean? I don't have a star!
Inside of me is empty! Inside of me is dark!
I've spent so much time there
I know there is no spark
of Light
deep inside of me."

"What does it feel like here?
Now, I mean, after you've seen
all those stars?"
asks Your Gentle Fear

"It feels like...huge...
like outer no time,
no space, has ever existed...
I feel free to move, I feel free to be...
I feel I can be...just me!
There's no one watching, no one laughing.
No one jeering, no one clapping.
I just see all these lights and hear all this
it feels like life. It feels like life!
Like watching a flower grow
or learning once and for all
what you've always known
Like I can choose
what it is I want to do!
And who I am is who
I'm meant to be"

"Good" says Fear, "this is Good and Right
And now my Dear
you may end your fight
end your tears and end your plight
For Good.
Turn around.
Own your Light."

So, you turn around, for you've learned to listed to Fear.

And there, you see
A ball of Light
akin to that candle which showed you
what it was
you needed to ask.

"Oh My God!" you gasp.

"Indeed" says Fear with a bow.

Speechless you can only stare
at this pulsing Light, this great, warm sphere
of pure power, of energy...of...

"...Love...?" asks Fear, for She can read your thoughts.

"Yes, Love. It's Love!!" You say with a start
"that erases all pain
and erases all struggle
and shows me One direction
when once there was only muddled
input, lots of lies
and stormy violent skies
...oh, thank you, thank You God!
thanks for this reply
to all my seeking and all my tears
to all the disappearing, and to all my Fears...


wait...FEAR! Where are you? Where have you gone?

I do not want to go on

Stay with me!"

A response in a voice just like your own comes from somewhere deep
inside the Orb:

"I will always be with you when you pass through into Love--
I will be transformed
I will be You:
the True Me

"What do you mean?" you may ask, "You will be there, Fear? but not?"

"Do not worry my Friend. I will be there. Go, and see! Find out! Give it a shot!"

So you
walk through
into the Light
at the Center of Who it Is You Are

And time stands still.

You hear no clocks.

But you do hear beating: a-chug, a-chug, the sound of your own Heart.

You have found the place of safety, the place you've always been
where all feelings are beauty
and all thoughts are but a whim
which are not Love

You have been engulfed by what you once thought was up above:
Heaven has found you on Earth
or rather you it...
anyhow you can decide which!

All that matters is,
You're here now

Stand up!
Stand tall!

Take a bow!

And be proud to be
in the SpotLight
where you belong.

No. 67

Singing is doing and being. If we are having trouble doing, we have forgotten who we truly are.

Monday, May 10, 2010

"The Spiritual Impulse" by Andrew Cohen

The Spiritual Impulse

Why do some of us seek for higher truths? Why is it that certain individuals are driven blindly, madly, and passionately to transcend their own limitations? Why do we, at times, feel ourselves being compelled to improve ourselves, not only for our own sake but for the sake of a higher cause that we sense yet can barely see? Why is it that in those precious moments when we are most conscious and most awake, we seem to intuit a deeper sense of purpose that is infinitely bigger than our personal worlds could contain? What is that soft vibration that tugs on our hearts and beckons us to courageously leap beyond the small confines of the separate self so that we can participate in the life-process in a much deeper and more authentic way? That vibration is none other than the spiritual impulse, which is the impulse to evolve at the level of consciousness. And I believe it is that very same impulse that caused something to come from nothing fourteen billion years ago, that compelled an entire material universe to miraculously emerge from complete emptiness. To me, at least, it seems that there is no doubt that a great and mysterious energy and intelligence with enormous power is driving this entire evolutionary process forward in every moment. And our own direct personal experience of spiritual inspiration is the most tangible expression of that very same drive.

Andrew Cohen

Randy Pausch - The Last Lecture reprised

Sunday, May 9, 2010

No. 66

The Age of the Individual: Where do we as Singers go from here?

What does learning to sing actually MEAN? What is the purpose of dedicating our lives, our sweat, our tears, literally our hearts and souls, to singing? Why do it? To earn more money? To stand on the biggest stages? To be on the big screen and to own the fanciest dresses? Perhaps. Are these reasons enough to justify our struggle?

I don't think so.

I am convinced that there is a deeper meaning to the desire to sing, beyond simply wanting success and fame. It has to do with who we truly are. And therein lies the key to the survival of our art form and the reason for opera's existence.

For the last year and a half I have been lucky enough to study with a voice teacher who understands and teaches just that. For him, singing is not just singing. Singing is prayer: it comes from the deepest depths of who we are as humans.

He is the teacher my heart brought me to, and I thank God that he exists and that he has dedicated his life to understanding vocal technique to the point that he can now mine for the gold which exists as the True Voice of each and every singer. This is, in my opinion, the very purpose for applying oneself to the Classical School of Singing: to become so well versed in what it means to be practicing our discipline that our bodies, these instruments of Spirit, are so subconsciously, efficiently trained that we may be active, empty, vessels for the music we are called to express.

It is incredibly exciting to be alive and to be a singer at this time in the Evolution of Singing.

Roughly explained, if I am correct, opera singing itself existed before the advent of the Classical School of Singing. Singing and how to teach it clearly evolved together, but singing came first. In its most raw form, the technique of singing opera was demonstrated with the first baby's primal cry...the foundation of singing itself is older than we can imagine. But I digress.

The Classical School of Singing has served as a way of mapping out the process one must go through toward obtaining what humans have loved to hear for hundreds if not thousands (think back to the ampitheaters...) of years: a free, exciting, complete, efficient vocal production, whether in speech or in song.

Learning this freedom, this dedication to music and true self-expression, to something much bigger than our mortal selves, is a spiritual path.

Finding Jean-Ronald, my teacher, was the culmination of a long fifteen plus years of self-discovery and soul searching. Probably every singer would recognize and sympathize with my path to this teacher who has real information to share, and a clear plan toward releasing my voice in all of its completeness, and in freedom. It was a series of 'wrong' turns, looking for truth from the world's perspective, from the viewpoint of academia and concrete goals, from the standpoint of achieving fame and winning people over or beating the 'competition', that whittled me down to the point where I knew that ultimately I was seeking something much much more than the "big win" or the "big break". I was looking for myself.

I am lucky to have been just barely accepted at Oberlin Conservatory (I was originally on the waiting list), so when I arrived, I began immediately the painful process of realizing that for me, the paradigm of "singing as a competitive endeavor" had to, somehow, be broken down in order for me to survive. I could not hope to ever 'compete' with the plethora of incredibly talented, and in many ways almost finished voices and personalities of my colleagues. Unfortunately (though I see it now as fortune, no singer should go through this, thus the writing of this blog, in which I hope perhaps a hurting singer may find peace) for the fledgling singer fresh out of Oregon, what inevitably happened is that this paradigm had to break me, or more accurately, the Ego, before I could learn to be free of it. But this is the stuff of a later post...

The true singer knows she must follow the path to her True Voice, no matter what. If we listen closely, there is no real reason to why we study, why we seek out the teachers who will help us become who we truly are...until we realize that "who we really are" IS the point of study. It's not the dresses. It's not the fame. It's not the HD telecasts and the public broadcasting specials. It's not the getting it "right". It's not the "winning". It's the constant being and becoming that the Classical School helps us embody which is the point of our every endeavor as opera singers.

What we see in today's world is a break between spirituality and performing arts that does not and should not exist.

Who do we see when we go to hear a great singer? The greatest performers we have ever experienced don't give us merely a vision of who they are. They send us into ecstasy because they show us, in their inspired performance, who we are. And so my burning question is:

If this quality, this "IT", this ability to transcend the individual and reach the heavenly heights of collective human experience is to be found in great performance, why is "It" so sorely lacking in music education?

Perhaps we performers would rather have this inspiration remain a secret, the very path to it obscured so that it is easier to sell. This is a most cynical explanation, which I am not ready to admit is true. But it is tempting to sell our art this way. We say perhaps to the public: come and experience something that you cannot experience on your own. You need years and years of practice to do this, to be this way. I am unt0uchable, I am the star and you the stargazer.

We see the results of this striving for individual "Diva-hood" in opera. As a public we are fed the names of singers we are supposed to think of as great. We go to performances in search of spiritual experiences and amazing music, to be taken away to that place that only music can take us. Often this happens, and even more often it does not. The undisciplined listener will, for the sake of honoring her investment in the tickets and to have something to write home about, attempt to invent some meaning or to express some sort of appreciation. But has the real goal for music making been met?

What is the real goal for making music?

It is, merely, and most importantly, an expression of the Love that makes up each and every human being, and everything in the universe.

Any performer who excites the listener, who brings people to tears and to their feet through sharing great music, must acknowledge that the "It" which does this is much much, in fact infinitely more, than the singer is themselves. This is the challenge I am sending out to myself and to my fellow singers, many of whom already understand and embrace what I am trying to express. And many of whom sing, but do not yet realize perhaps the depth of meaning which lies hidden in their profession and their studies.

The experience we have when we visit a truly great performance is not unavailable to the every day person. Anyone who has delved in even a little bit to who they truly are knows that there is a heavenly well of beauty within each of us which can be expressed even in simple things like walking down the street.

So if the experience that we are seeking as performers is available to us at every moment, why perform? why make music?

I can only use an example from my development as a singer to help answer this question myself:

In my first years of study in Vienna, my vocal cords were not approximating. This is, I know now, a common occurrence in the development of a singer, but back then, for my tender student's soul, it was the end of the world as I knew it. I "could not sing".

I did not see a way out of this fear-filled predicament, this "voiceless" existence. I knew that the deepest part of me had to be expressed through singing, and it could not be! I was living in a state of deep depression and hopelessness, though no one but my voice teacher at the time could have guessed.

What was it that brought hope to my soul? A recording of Maria Callas singing the famous aria "La mamma morta" from Andrea Chenier. I listened to this recording over and over. It brought me a feeling of freedom, of flight, of hope...there is no mistaking why this aria was chosen to be featured in the movie "Philadelphia", where the main character also finds ultimate freedom from death and pain in listening to it. The piece has the power to transform, and Maria Callas had the vision, the power, and the absolute dedication as a singer, to allow the music to be as transformative as it could possibly be.

I was carried away. I danced. I meditated to it on repeat. I experienced the vulnerability of what it means to surrender to absolute beauty and love in the privacy of my sacred, personal space, so I could begin the gradual journey of allowing that expression of beauty to inform every moment of my everyday life, even, and especially in the presence of other people.

Maria Callas started me on the journey to freedom. Love itself (and her singing is Love incarnate) continued the job.

So what does this, in the end, mean to us singers, truly? To me, it means having the courage to say that what is most important to me has nothing to do with singing itself, per se. It has to do, only, with Love. We follow the path of singing to experience Love, whether we are aware of it or not.

Can we embrace the possibility of this truth? Can opera become more than a spectacle and a vehicle for the next "Diva" or "Divo"? Can it be more than a money generating machine? Can all of opera realize what is truly driving the music and every singer who sings its, at their core? If we could, we would never have to worry about the fate of the art form. There would never be another "undiscovered" voice or singer in pain. We would all realize what truly matters, and making music, singing opera, would become as natural, as essential, as breathing and thinking, and as every-day beautiful as life itself.

What is the next step, then, in the Evolution of Singing? I hope that it lies in singers who realize this truth coming together and seeking perfectly true and free vocal production to such an extent that anything that is not the "real thing", or 100+% Love, would be overshadowed and pale in comparison. I think that the next step involves finding ways to bring everyone who feels moved to be a singer to that point of complete and true Love. I believe that it means not accepting the idea that it is "impossible" to train a voice that is lost in fear and hopelessness. I believe that the key to the freedom of thousands, if not millions of voices, is Love itself. I am excited, because I see the many ways in which Love is already, if not always necessarily by name, being expressed in voice studios like that of my teacher.

I want to proclaim it from every rooftop! I want to dare skeptics to try to prove Love wrong! Along my long path to these first inklings of my own True Voice, I have been pointed to nothing but this Truth.

As always my most humble thanks to the Source of All Things, and in complete dedication and devotion to my teacher Jean-Ronald LaFond,

Rebecca Fromherz