Loving your voice is a choice.
My first in-person rehearsal since the pandemic was strange, disorienting. Because it wasn’t my old choir.
Literally, in one respect: I hadn’t previously met at least a third of the people there.
And figuratively too, because none of us are the same people we were 16 months ago.
I know I’ve changed in innumerable ways. As a parent whose children haven’t always coped too well with the effects of the pandemic and the interruptions to their schooling. As a person, having witnessed some truly seismic events locally, nationally, and internationally over the past year or two. And as a singer and choir leader who has become used to performing over Zoom rather than in-person.
Even having to take a shower and change out of my jammie bottoms before going to work felt foreign. The thought of being visible, head to toe, to 30 people at once left me feeling…exposed.
And I knew it wasn’t just me. I knew we ALL had to overcome our awkwardness. I knew we ALL...
I’ve seen it countless times:
A new improv student opens their mouth, no sweaty palms, no subtle tremor giving away their nerves, no catch in their voice betraying their fear. Just confidence. Poise. An enviable boldness. A sense of fearlessness...and freedom.
And I’ve seen other students look on in awe. You know exactly what they’re thinking.
Why can’t they feel that fearlessness, that freedom? Why don’t they have the same confidence when they approach singing, with no sheet music, no plan, no certainty?
But here’s the surprising thing about fear:
Generally speaking, we have a back-to-front way of looking at what it means to be fearless.
Because it isn’t that the bold, confident improv student isn’t nervous. It isn’t that they don’t feel fear.
It’s isn’t even that old overly-simplistic adage of “feel the fear and do it anyway”.
It’s that they have trust.
They have trust in themselves and in...
12pm hits — it’s lunchtime! You’ve had a long morning at work, your back aches, your brain feels fuzzy, and you’re running low on energy.
You know you should find something energizing to do with your lunch break. Something that fires you up, that de-stresses you, that brings you joy.
Buuuutt, you’re pretty sure you’re going to do what you’ve done every other day this week: grab a sandwich at your desk and either work right through or doomscroll Twitter for the next 60 minutes.
If that sounds oh-so-familiar, I’d love to invite you to switch things up this Wednesday by spending your precious lunchbreak de-stressing in the most joyous way possible…singing!
Introducing Pop PDX: your weekly lunchtime energy boost (even if you think you can’t sing).
By now, I’m sure you know my philosophy: EVERYONE can sing.
Because singing isn’t about hitting the right notes 100% of the time. It isn’t about...
What if my singers, my friends, my most beloved choir members have become strangers?
It was a fleeting thought that came to me as I recently returned to Sing Portland! and in-person choir practice after 15 months of nothing but Zoom sessions — a thought that I couldn’t quite shake.
And it wasn’t just because we hadn’t seen each other in the flesh for so long. It was because we’ve all changed so very much in that time.
Oh sure, there was the whole global pandemic thing. That’s always going to change a person. But more than that, it was the first time meeting up with my singers since last summer, since the horrific murder of George Floyd and the events that unfolded after his death.
And that most certainly has changed us. All of us. In ways I can’t even pretend to understand yet.
For my part, I’ve been determined to become more “woke” (using that phrase, of course, in the most positive way possible) — and it has been...
Have you ever seen a little kid messing about in the sandbox? Running around a park? Exploring somewhere new? It’s incredible to watch because it’s like everything is one giant experiment…and it’s guided by pure instinct.
These gorgeous tiny people are inquisitive. They’re bold. They’re playful. They’re absorbed by the present moment. They’re fearless.
Until they grow up, that is. Until they become…us.
Your sandbox gets a whole lot bigger as you grow, yet it feels smaller. Because you start to move through the world with fear. Fear of judgement, fear of “getting it wrong”, fear of losing respect, fear of letting the real “you” shine through.
And you forget what it is to feel fearless and free.
So, I want to remind you (through song, of course!)
As you sing, so you live…
When you learn to sing freely and fearlessly, you don’t just use your voice differently, you begin to...
“I don’t want to die with music inside of me.”
I think that’s a feeling we’ve all been able to relate to at some time or other. Sure, you might want to replace the word “songs” with “poems”, “stories”, “words”, or even just “emotions” but the overwhelming feeling is the same — the desire for release, the need to be heard, the urge to connect your environment and your community to your inner world.
For the inimitable Carole Marie Downing, the realization that she had too many songs pent up inside her came as she awoke from anesthesia after hip surgery.
For you, it might have been triggered by your own personal struggles, or from the trauma of watching the events of the last year and a half unfold around you.
Whatever your personal reason, I want you to know that you’ve found the right place — that there is an outlet.
Introducing : Songs of Sustenance.
If you haven’t taken...
(repost from Fall 2018)
Why I do what I do, summed up in a weekend.
People randomly burst into song in front of the fireplace, others wander through the garden humming a tune, friends harmonize in line for the buffet, guests serenade you at the dinner table.
You’d be forgiven for thinking you’d wandered onto the set of a 1940s MGM musical. But happily, this magical place actually exists. Or at least it did for a full weekend in October. I am, of course, describing the wonderful “Singing on the Edge” weekend at Esalen.
With 130 singers on site, it could hardly be any other way.
In its 56 year history I can only imagine that this workshop will stand out as one of the most exciting. Sold out in a week, this was the first workshop of its kind at Esalen, taking over the entire property and offering 15 distinct and talented workshop leaders to choose from.
And with such a wealth of experienced musical leaders, we couldn’t help but be inspired. Laurence...
My son was inconsolable, in a complete rage, could not control his emotions. And I just didn’t know what to do.
So I did the first thing I could think of. I did what comes naturally. I did what I always do when things get too much.
And he immediately melted into my arms.
Was it the power of my voice? Maybe. But I think it was more likely down to the power of the song.
Because the song I chose to sing to him in that moment was Melanie DeMore’s Sending you light.
You may know it because Melanie is an absolute musical genius. You may know it because we sang it at the end of every Zoom session during the early days of the pandemic. Either way, to know this song, is to be moved by it. To be calmed by it. To be enriched by it.
That’s just the kind of song it is, and the kind of musician that Melanie is.
And so, I could not be more thrilled to welcome Melanie as a guest teacher for the next chapter of my Coro membership.
I know that many of you who enjoyed...
It’s bizarre: I’m doing work, important work, work I adore, and it’s all going really well. Like, pinch-my-arm levels of going well. Basically I’m living my dream.
Yet here I am, feeling like a mess, feeling lost, crying great big salty tears.
Maybe you can relate?
Maybe you’re crying your own professional tears? Maybe, on paper, life is absolutely wonderful, you’re exactly where you need to be, you’re doing exactly what you need to be doing, but it still feels overwhelming. Scary. Unknown.
I think feeling like that was common enough pre-pandemic. Now, it’s practically inevitable.
Because the last year has changed us.
We had to cancel plans, certainly. But we might have had to cancel (or at least postpone) hopes and dreams too. We’ve had to make immense cognitive shifts as well as emotional shifts. During a year when social justice and the rights of marginalized people have never been far from our minds, we may have changed how...