Saturday, March 30, 2013

No. 224: Anger, Grief, and Resurrection

I LOVE the emotion of ANGER.
The emotion of anger is separate from what people choose to DO with it.

The emotion of anger, in learning to sing, often precludes the emotion of GRIEF: 
Grief that we have not been able to express and SING in the way our Heart wants,
To connect to Life in a way that is exhilarating, vibrant, aligned, and true through the Music we Love.

The Grief to which Anger often leads
is the Springboard to Resurrection of Voice.

Grief cries out the frustration, the righteous indignation,
The years of feeling lost, and the often bitter-sweet sensation of being Found 
After a long time not knowing where You were.

Ah, yes, anger is good.  And I am not afraid of It,
For I can humbly give thanks that I,
Once lost, have ever-increasing experiences of being Found:
And these experiences, in Voice and Song
Parallel nothing I could ever imagine.

Voice brings me to a place 
Where Resurrection is a moment-by-moment Gift
And the Light of Life is blinding 
To all that is not IT.

This is not psychology. This is not religion.  This is SINGING, in my opinion, at Its Best.

This is LIFE.  This is LOVE.  This is Opera Organically.

Happy, Happy Day of Resurrection, World!


Friday, March 29, 2013

No. 223: Faith's Journey

I am so blessed to have singers come into my life who are interested in walking the path of Opera Organically!  

It's a path that is not always easy, but, if we walk it with open hearts, it always, without fail, brings us more to life through song!

Faith Osterlund is a student we have heard from before on the blog (See No. 192).  She has chosen to take a very brave step and share her experience of a recent audition for us here.  In Opera Organically we teach and learn that singers are strengthened through the sharing of experience.  There is power in knowing that we are not alone in what we feel and live.  Our Voices have unifying strength when we have the humility and the bravery to share what we experience when singing and learning.

Faith illustrates here, word for word, the humility and bravery of a true Opera Organically singer.  It is with pride and joy that I turn the 'stage' over now to "Faith's Journey."  May there be many more chapters to this story to come!

Organically Yours,

"The most nerve-racking part of my scholarship audition was the waiting. I've never been good at waiting for things like that, since it gives the mind time to explore all the way that things could go wrong. Of course, they never really turn out as bad as we could imagine. (Well, maybe in movies, but that's beside the point.)

I waited in a lobby for almost an hour for it to be my turn to audition. And of course, once it was, and I finally got up on stage, the nervousness sort of melted away. It was still there, somehwere in the back of my mind, but it wasn't prominent. The auditorium was small, which made the whole experience less intimidating.

It was relatively easy, I suppose, to keep the connection that I so needed for both of my song choices. I think it was several things: possibly my nervousness had something to do with it, but it was definitely the warm-up with my teacher beforehand, and I also think because God was with me. And I'll be the first to admit that I was struggling with a few phrases and notes before.

Honestly, like it is with most every time I perform, I don't really remember much. Just glimpses. I remember swaying back and forth gently in time with the music as I was performing, remember the rather impassive faces of the faculty (save a few). I remember my own surprise at the ease of which I hit the note I was struggling with. And, in hindsight, realizing that I probably should have spoken louder during the interview. I fear I came across as rather timid.

But I suppose I did all right. I got an excellent scholarship, and was accepted to the college. I'm looking forward to starting my freshman year of college there."

Gooooooooo Faith! We will be looking forward to hearing the next steps on your journey!!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

No. 222: I. Love. Paradox.

I. Love. Paradox.  

In the beginning of my path as a singer, I did not always love paradox.  In fact, at times I HATED paradox for the hair-pulling, foot-stomping and mind-bending it caused in my inner world.  Now, I understand the only way we singers become sane is through loving the constant pull between seeming opposites we experience.  Jean-Ronald LaFond, my Singing Guru has come up with a fabulous list of paradoxes he is now teaching in a brilliantly concise fashion.  Keep up with Kashu-do: The Way of the Singer, for those!  

In the mean time I leave you with food for thought:  "Relax and Sing" is one of those maddening suggestions which houses a paradox for singers.  However, a very crucial element is missing here which drove me MAD for years in its absence.  Now I understand what most people mean when they suggest we "Relax and Sing" really is:  

"Relax. Trust VOICE. And Sing.
(oh, and in the mean time, make sure you do what it takes to become what Voice needs you to be.)"

When we experience relaxation and singing in this context, suddenly DOing and BEing become One in the fabulous ecstasy of singing.  It is our desire to experience this way of life which causes us singers to be constant students--and sometimes reluctant Lovers--of Paradox.

THIS is Life.  THIS is Love.  THIS is Opera Organically.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

No. 221: Music is not that important

Music is not that important 
A shot at the real truth behind 'disappearing' music in schools and society.
(in dedication to John Dewey)

"Music is not that important."


What could I mean by this?

In our struggle to advocate for music in education and in our daily lives, we confuse the messenger (music) with the message (what music teaches us and helps us to experience).

The reason I make music and have devoted my life to understanding singing and the teaching of singing is not for music alone.  It is for the experience of music.

It is this EXPERIENCE of passion and aliveness which is not present in many of our schools, in many of our cities, and in many of our lives.

In advocating for the messenger we are forgetting the message:

Are our children waking up excited to learn?
Are WE waking up excited to learn?
Are we aware of what it means to be intensely alive?
Are our children being taught to seek this state of being?

Opera Organically is learning to sing without necessarily uttering a note.  When we are most ALIVE we are in many ways equal to the greatest singers we revere.  Yes, striving for beauty of tone and adherence to composer's wishes are intensely important.  But our striving to the mastery of these is moot if our own existence and experience are not connected to that striving.

We are not missing music in our schools.  We are missing the acknowledgment that what brings us humans alive comes in as many infinite variations as our faces and fingertips.  We are missing the knowledge that Bach or Brahms, Thelonius Monk or Luciano Pavarotti may have left breadcrumbs along their pathways of life in music that could lead a student to their own powerful expression of being.

When we remember this, life--singing, music, education, our children, our Selves--becomes much more than a daily grind toward passable test scores.  It becomes an exciting treasure hunt full of countless possibilities.

THIS is Life.  THIS is Love.  THIS is Opera Organically.

No. 220: What would it take?

What would it take to let go of the usual things we focus on
when "learning to sing":
separateness, solitude, often ego-driven desire?  

Are these somehow boring "Me-isms"
really where we want to stay as a singing culture?  

Could we take our thinking and being as singers out beyond the individual?

What would it mean to see our individual selves in a divinely huge perspective?

What could this do for us singers?

To experience community before competition,
Understanding of self alongside understanding of technique,
Celebration and contemplation,
Certainty beyond snap judgments,
Love that is impersonal,
Voice that is inter-personal,
And Joy that is eternal?

As for me, I want to experience all of the above: no doubt.  

THIS is Life.  THIS is Love.  THIS is Opera Organically.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

No. 218: An Invitation

Opera Organically is an invitation 
to see ourselves as Kings and Queens,
Princesses and Princes,
Sorceresses and Murderers--
Thieves and Torturers.

It is an invitation to embrace ALL
of what humanity can be
in the safe, all-encompassing, loving, healing 
of Music.

This invitation is not for everyone,
for many will shrink at the power in each of us--
at the possibility at once for royalty, and at once for treachery.

Perhaps this is why, to some, opera is hard to hear?

Ah, but nothing can compare to the deep knowledge of
Voice which, originating from the very space of US,
teaches that we have the power to choose
between embracing our royalty or treachery
in real life.

And when treachery and royalty become entwined
as in life they so often do, 
Voice gives us refuge, a foundation, a firm identity,
a positive knowing that all CAN be seen as beautiful Music,
no matter how confusing it may be.

So, am I speaking anymore about Voice, and only Voice?
Or is this deep expression of Who We Are connected,
One-and-the-same perhaps,
to What Makes Us?

This Question, My Friends, is Opera Organically's Invitation.

It Is this Question which keeps me singing, 
this Question which keeps me alive,

THIS is Life.  THIS is Love.  THIS is Opera Organically.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

No. 217: A Most Common Misconception

A most common misconception
is that opera is something we GO to,
something that is separate from who and what we are.
When we know a deeper truth:
that opera is all around us at any time,
made up of all the elements and emotions of life--
all the sounds, textures, tastes, and senses of lives
lived on the sentient flow of breath-- 
and of the rhythms of feet which, even walking, are in dance--
When we know this deeper truth
we are free to revel and celebrate in our very human existence:
the thing that inspired opera in the first place.

THIS is Life.  THIS is Love.  THIS is Opera Organically.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

No. 216: I believe...

I believe the days of “just singing” are coming to an end.  
“Just singing” does not keep music in our schools and in our lives.  
“Just singing” does not illustrate to communities why choirs and music programs are not only nice--but necessary to fund.  
“Just singing” is not enough.  
This is why I am taking a giant leap every day.  
It’s a giant leap to say “There is someThing MORE.  
We have lost touch with the origins of Voice.  
BUT we can re-connect to It.  
And--I am not only pointing to IT.  
Who will join me?

THIS is Life.  THIS is Love.  THIS is Opera Organically.