Monday, October 24, 2011

Quote of the Day: Ebracing Change

Embracing Change

"Awakening to the evolutionary impulse, to that mysterious drive towards the future, can spiritually empower us to bear the intensity of our exponentially changing world. When we awaken to this impulse, we find ourselves suddenly compelled to ride the crest of that wave, rather than going the traditional mystical route and seeking peace and relief in the solitude of meditative transcendence. An evolutionary spirituality compels us to jump right into the midst of change, carried by the spiritual inspiration of the creative process itself. And that's why I feel a spiritual path like Evolutionary Enlightenment is so culturally relevant for our time."

~Andrew Cohen

Friday, October 21, 2011

No. 165: We...

What if we are not only humans singing?... 

...What if we are Voices human-ing?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

N0. 164: Love is the great authority.

Love is the great authority.  What if the Classical School of Singing, in all its evolution up to today, has been about honing the power of Love through the human Voice?  What or Whom is it that tells us we are on the right track?  "Love is the answer" we hear throughout life, a whisper in the background to our times of achievement and success.  But what if Love is also the question?  What if we could see that as singers we are also seekers, and that the illusive IT we seek is already who we are?  What, then, could our mission as singers become?  What, our purpose? What if we could turn conscious a culture which from the outside seems full of false pageantry and drama?  What if we would be courageous, expressing all of what we do, who we are, from the inside out?  Then we who love opera would enter the realms of heroes and warriors, angels and beings of light--the same as those which we sing, see, compose, and listen to onstage.  What we know now in secret and fantasy would become known in reality to all who care to find It, and our lives would be about much more than even music.

Monday, October 17, 2011

No. 163: "Feel", and Maintaining the Structure of Love

I have been privileged to witness the transformation of a very special horse over the last few months.  When Lena and I first connected, I sensed the beauty of her soul.  When we first met, she had a gentleness and a warmth which shone through even the neglect she was suffering.  In awe of the power I sensed emanating from her even then,  I thank God and the universe that this gentleness, this true strength of her, was not put out by the misunderstandings of a human. 

When we think of the Voice as a living entity, like a horse, we can learn to see and appreciate Its inherent power.  It is at once a great challenge and the most simple of actions to think of a Voice as complete, whole, and unique, nestled in a body or in a consciousness, waiting to emerge.  Ever since I  started exploring Opera Organically I find it interesting to observe that everyone I meet, to this new consciousness, has Voice in and of them.  For some, It has fully manifest.  They are living, breathing Voice.  For others, the incubation period has just begun.  For these, incubation can take infinite forms.  The Voice can be "incubated" (I use this term as opposed to muffled or squelched because it speaks to positive potential) in infinite ways: through the thoughts of the singer, the lack of exposure to music from an early age, outside opinions, lack of muscle tone, etc. 

My dream for Opera Organically is to create a vehicle where this positive potential is expressed and proliferated.  What I lacked as a music student was this kind of understanding: deep knowledge and confidence that my desire to sing would unquestionably reveal the true, complete beauty of Voice in and through me.

Why are we so hesitant to own this kind of confidence, and to teach it to our students?  

An "outside-in" approach to teaching and learning singing implies an infinite and unattainable body of skills and information for the singing student to digest.  It speaks of an amorphous "talent" which one does or does not have.  The goal is an indefinable "career" or a far-away "fame" which is not thought of as part and parcel of who we are already.  The "outside-in" approach is focused almost completely on the future or on the past: we have experienced "____(fill in the blank)______" in our past to either achieve or not achieve "______(fill it again)________" in the future. What we do in the studio has everything to do with achievement of a grade or approval, or a job.

Where is the singer, where is the Voice, now?

Many years ago, I had what is called a "normal" approach to horses and riding technique.  Though I loved my horses as much as I could possibly love anything in life, I thought the only way to communicate with them was through absolute authority.  I was always right in how I thought and what I wanted, and the horse, as long as it did what I wanted, was right, too.  However, any anomaly, any resistance to my little-girl-will suddenly made the beautiful creature wrong or bad.  I did not know the magic of entering into the moment with my horses.  To keep myself "safe", I learned as much theory about riding that I could.  I looked at the whole experience from the outside, and imposed on it a system of control which should keep me safe, should convince the horse to cooperate with me, should win me trophies and approval, and it did, to some level.  What it could not achieve for me was the ecstasy of a true relationship in the moment with my horses.  The focus was on the future award, and on past preparation, both potentially important but equally devoid of true happiness and contentment.

This should model of learning and teaching is what I would like to respond to with Opera Organically. I would like to propose a shift of consciousness and attitude which I call the could model of singing.

What could our Voice, this positive expressive potential, be wanting to teach US?  Like the normal model of a horseback rider, I approached my Voice with total human authority for many years.  When it was imbalanced, I thought it should be balanced, and I did everything in my power to impose balance upon it.  Not until I had a pivotal lesson with KS Hilde Zadek in Vienna did I start to have an inkling of another way to behave and interact with Voice.

Hilde told me my voice is a horse, an It which I have written about in multiple other blog posts here.  
From that point on, I began a journey of inquiry.  If Hilde saw my Voice, to me broken and ugly, as a beautiful jumper that I was abusing by not learning how to communicate with it, how could I learn to know Its true nature, just as she did?  How could Hilde know this about my Voice when she barely knew me? This was at one of our first lessons.  Where did she glean this confidence in the beauty of Voice??

Getting to know Hilde over the two and a half years I studied with her very regularly, I began to see that her acknowledgment of this beauty of Voice came to her through choice.

Could we, as a community of singers and potential singers, believe in absolute goodness and beauty of Voice?

I begin to almost cry when I think of the beauty of Lena, relaxed and natural, circling me in the arena without halter or lead rope.  This is in great contrast to our first weeks together, filled with panicked blow-ups and bolting.  The sphere of safety, trust and confidence which I have been taught to foster through Parelli Natural Horsemanship has gradually grown over the months to create between us what I can only call feel.  Feel is a term used by great horsemen to illustrate the phenomenon of "give and take" which can happen in a horse-human relationship.  It is a phenomenon ruled by love of the most powerful kind, by a choice to see the absolute potential of this relationship to create goodness and freedom.  Mind-blowingly, I realize now that every horse, like every Voice, lives the resounding YES to this choice!  By their very existence, horse and Voice express positivity!  They are both just waiting for us to match and become in tune with them.  It's as if horse and Voice are both asking human:

Could you get to know me?  Really get to know me?

This natural approach to freeing Lena to be all that she already is in completion has an intensely fertile quality.  Every moment has infinite possibilities.  When she is at my shoulder in partnership, we are one, and we can choose to do anything we please, together.  I am the leader, and also the partner.  An organic approach to Voice has the same qualities.  I am not so arrogant to assume I know everything about Voice.  I simply observe in awe and wonder at every moment, and try to meld myself into the positivity of existence I am shown there.

Feel in the voice and practice studio could transform the world for a singer.  What if teaching and practicing could be about honoring the truth of what Voice is, rather than getting it right?  What if we are looking for strength and beauty to manifest which is already inherent, rather than arrogantly imposing our ideas of what Voice should be?  This world of possibility is organic and natural, and through this lense, everything is possible.

With Love and Deep Gratitude to Voice and to Horse,



Friday, October 7, 2011

No. 162: Who Cares for Whom?

All along we learn that we must care for our Voices.  But...what if they actually are caring for us?   What if True Voice, if It took human form, would actually laugh lovingly at our efforts to care for It?  What if It comes from a stuff so strong, from a place so eternal, that It has the power to rewrite our existence, to rebuild our bodies, to turn us inside out?  What if...?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

No. 161: Quote of the Day

Most of us are capable of greatness when we feel called to a higher purpose. It's amazing the kind of transformation that we can undergo when we awaken to a larger context. Suddenly we find we can renounce narcissism and selfishness—not to gain anything for ourselves but because there's a greater cause. So in the way that I teach, I hope that through awakening people to this larger context and purpose, they will find the strength to renounce their own narcissism and selfishness in order to respond to something that will always be more important. That's the most dignified, most noble way that a human being can actually transform. And what could be more important than that? All we have to do is open our eyes and look around at this world—things are bad and they're getting worse. And we're all human and none of us have unlimited capacities to bear fear and confusion and disappointment. So the source of our strength has to be the highest. That's the place that we'll find the conviction and the passion to catalyze the kind of transformation that is so desperately needed. And we will find our liberation in that.
 ~Andrew Cohen

No. 160: On Transformation

What if learning to sing was taught in the context of realizing our true potential as human beings?  What if we could sing our way through transformation, birthing living, breathing, singing Beings who have followed their Voices to the Truth of Who They Are?  Could we as a culture, as a society begin to see the value of following Heart to the utmost freedom of expression?  Could we follow a path where we teach our bodies to be molded by this Heart, by Music, into complete resonance with the world around us?  Could music, could singing, teach us to mediate our inner lives as well as our outer experiences and relationships?  What powers are we living with, what powers are we experiencing, that music and Voice could show us Heaven, could show us ultimate peace?  What if we could step into that place, widening our glimpses of Light until all of life is consumed by It?  Wouldn't then music be seen for its ultimate worth and life-giving power???  We would be speaking of Music as life's currency: Spirit above the material, and music education would be seen as something as essential to all of us as water, food, or breath.  We would become our Voices, worthy of being seen and heard, and of being loved!

Monday, October 3, 2011

No. 159: On Peace

When Voice inhabits every cell of the body, when we have invited It in to our breath, to our Spirit, there is nothing lacking, and Voice, organic and whole, resonates with not only the truth inside us, but also outside us.  All becomes one, and peace becomes what we sing, and what we are.

No. 158: Everything we need

Everything we need as singers is inherent in our existence.  If there is any weakness, we need only to look inside and we will find the resources we need to find Organic Voice. The biggest lie we tend to believe while seeking Organic Voice is the It is not already complete.  Our very search for completion proclaims the presence of that which we are seeking.  We are often taught, through our lives in a culture desensitized to the infinite nuance of True Voice, to be blind to the colors and textures of that which we are already.  When we re-learn the language of Voice, when we re-learn how to see and hear It, we know that It was in us all along, and gratitude becomes all that we are, and all that we sing.