Sangha-ing in Harmony

By | 2018-06-01T15:09:04+00:00 June 1st, 2018|Spirit of Creativity|

This spring I dropped the ball for a while on my New Year's resolution to free up my singing voice. My first excuse: I spent nine days teaching in Germany, where I didn’t want to bombard my hotel neighbors and meditation students with my arpeggios and sirens. Back from Germany, I went straight into teaching another retreat at Spirit Rock. Then came a book deadline, a family visit, a week of online mentoring for a mindfulness teacher training—and suddenly I couldn’t connect with my original inspiration. There were just so many things on my to-do list that felt more urgent [...]

So What If I Look Ridiculous?

By | 2018-03-06T01:55:16+00:00 March 6th, 2018|Spirit of Creativity|

In my newsletter last month, I announced my new creative project for this year: learning to sing! In the weeks since then, my daily assignments in the Fear of Singing Breakthrough Program have gotten me doing a lot of things I definitely wouldn’t have done otherwise: Breaking down the musical theory behind “The Happy Birthday Song.” Leaping up and down in front of my computer, an invisible mic held to my mouth, as I mimic YouTube videos of David Byrne (“Life During Wartime”) and Blondie “One Way or Another.” Singing arpeggios while sounding them out on the piano. Driving down [...]

Don’t You Ever Ask Them Why

By | 2018-02-12T19:48:34+00:00 February 12th, 2018|Spirit of Creativity|

"Say 'Eh!'” commands my new voice teacher, Pollyanna Bush. She’s slim and elfin, with huge dark eyes and a waterfall of red hair that tumbles past her hips. She’s seated at a piano in her Fairfax studio, MusicWorks. I’m standing facing her, a space heater blowing warm air at my knees. “Ay!” I repeat, obediently. “Louder! Shout it! Like you’ve just seen someone on the other side of the parking lot trying to break into your car.” “AYYY!” “You’re saying 'A-ee.'” Make just one sound, 'Eh!'" “EHHH!” “Better. But you’re putting too much air into it. Louder, but no air!” [...]

Your Voice is Full of Surprises

By | 2018-02-02T03:19:15+00:00 February 2nd, 2018|Spirit of Creativity|

I just finished my first week of  "The Fear of Singing Breakthrough Program,” whose slogan is “Learn to Sing Even if You Think You Can’t Carry a Tune” (that would be me). The teacher, Nancy Salwen, starts at the absolute beginning, which is perfect for me. The daily online lessons are short, just 5 to 10 minutes. We spent the first couple of lessons just singing “drone notes,” simple aaahs and ooohs and eees all on one long monotone. Then we moved on to exploring the voice by “sirening” up and down the scale. All the principles she’s naming [...]

Learning to Sing

By | 2018-02-02T21:29:56+00:00 January 25th, 2018|Spirit of Creativity|

Dear Friends, Here’s my New Year’s resolution for 2018: I’m going to start singing. I pretty much stopped singing in sixth grade, when my elementary school music teacher eviscerated me in front of my entire class because my off-key warbles were ruining our rendition of “The Happy Wanderer.” (That’s a horror story I’ll tell you another time, if I’m brave enough. Let’s just say that I still shudder at a merry chorus of “val-deri, val-dera ha ha ha ha ha.”) I’ve endeavored over the decades to regain some confidence in my voice, to the point where I can now [...]