OMG, this video had me bawling. So great. Love this whole idea of making the sky rain goodness over one person.
Enjoy!Add a Comment
OMG, this video had me bawling. So great. Love this whole idea of making the sky rain goodness over one person.
Enjoy!Add a Comment
You know that stress dream that everyone has at one time or another? The one where you’re standing up in front of a giant group of people and something goes horribly wrong? You forget your speech, your voice cracks, you’re not wearing pants. Well that dream became a recurring reality for me my senior year of college (not the pants part thankfully). Mine was the singer’s nightmare. The one where you open your mouth to sing and the voice that comes out is not your own.
As a child and an adolescent I loved to perform. Singing wasn’t something I thought about; it was something I just did and as a result I was totally fearless. When I got to college the concept of thinking about singing as a science was entirely new to me. My teachers taught me to release my jaw and tongue, to inhale into my back and belly, to use muscular antagonism of the inspiratory and expiratory muscles, to keep my larynx low and stable, to lift my palate, and many other mechanics of singing. At first this new focus on technique was interesting, but eventually all of the technical language resulted in confusion. Every time I opened my mouth to sing I was afraid I would do something wrong. The result was a voice that was only a shadow of the one I used to call my own.
What happens when we’re afraid? In his article “The Anatomy of Fear,” John A. Call discusses the body’s reaction to fear: the heart-rate speeds up, our muscles tense, and the breath becomes fast and shallow.
The implications of this for a singer are huge. In singing the first rule of the inhale is release low. When a singer releases and expands through the lower body (belly, low back, and intercostals), it allows these muscles to work in tandem on the exhale. This gives the singer the ability to manage the air much more efficiently than if he/she had begun by expanding through the chest and clavicles. If a person is experiencing fear, the ability to take a low and relaxed or released breath becomes quite difficult.
Certainly singers need to learn proper singing technique, but sometimes I wonder, what is all of this focus on the physical costing us as artists? There was a time in my life when I operated solely on musical intuition. But as I learned more and more about the mechanics of singing I began attempting to operate on facts and science instead of artistic impulse. I don’t mean to suggest that I didn’t need to learn the mechanics—I had plenty of technical issues. But perhaps there is a more holistic approach to teaching singing that could facilitate proper technique without the loss of instinct.
After I graduated from college I took some time off from singing. When I decided to return to it I knew I needed a different approach. I had been practicing yoga as a form of exercise for a few years, but I felt confident that with the right guidance it could really help me as a singer. So I sought out a voice/yoga teacher.
My new teacher, Mark Moliterno, taught me that yoga recognizes that tension in the body is often a result of physical or psychological blockages to the breath. The practice of yoga seeks to release tension and free the breath. When properly implemented in the voice studio, yoga can be a pathway to efficient vocal technique and artistic freedom.
Mark pointed out that all of the confusion and fear that had built up during my college studies had caused me to physically disengage from the lower half of my body. So we set to work using yoga to reconnect me with my lower body and help me feel more secure in my singing.
We used postures like Tādāsana or Mountain Pose and Vìrabhadrāsana One or Warrior One to release tension in the body and connect me with the ground. Feeling my leg muscles engaged and my feet planted firmly on the floor helped me to feel more secure. We used pranayama or breath exercises to release tension within the muscles of the respiratory system. We used hip openers to release the tension in my jaw, and shoulder openers to release the tension in my tongue.
We did yoga and made music. Not once in this entire process did I think about any of the mechanics of singing. My technique improved because my body was open and the breath could function naturally and efficiently. Yoga was like this miracle that freed my voice and allowed me to trust myself again. But it isn’t a miracle, it’s a science that takes into account all parts of the person, and not just the anatomical.
When singers start trying to function as anatomical machines, seeking after flawless technique, we can lose the ability to sing authentically. Yoga helped me to learn to sing with good technique without focusing on it, and dissolved the fear that kept me from trusting my musical instincts. It released the tension in my body and mind, unleashing the breath, and offering me a pathway to artistic freedom.
Mezzo-soprano, Laura Davis, is a singer, conductor, and voice teacher. She holds a Master of Music degree in Voice Pedagogy and Performance from the Catholic University of America and a Bachelor of Music degree in Sacred Music from Westminster Choir College. Recent performances include Suzuki in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, Dina in Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti, and Third Lady in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. After spending 10 years on the east coast conducting, performing, and teaching, Ms. Davis has returned to her home state of Colorado where she is in the process of opening a voice studio based on a holistic approach to singing.
The post Learning to sing: lessons from a yogi voice teacher appeared first on OUPblog.
Hey, if these critters can do it, why can't I? New Year's resolution #1: Do more exercise.
This is my first post on M.A. - thanks for the invite! :)
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When you purchase an item from MY STORE, 10% of your purchase price will be donated to my favorite animal charities; Last Chance Animal Rescue and Horses Haven, both in lower MI. Which charity the donation goes to, will depend on the item purchased and I will love you forever from the bottom of my little black heart. ...and even if you don't purchase anything from me, PLEASE go to their site and make a donation! These animals deserve a chance!
Snuggle up by the fireplace, with a warm mug of something and browse through the pages of my website
Call it a coincidence that Letting Go is the theme at the Wild Lotus Yoga Studio in New Orleans. When I’m in town, I benefit from blissful moments at Wild Lotus, although yesterday’s class left me slightly crippled (what I get for taking a vacation from exercise as well). During the crazy carnival season, ‘letting go’ is an important reminder. Simple errands, such as making groceries (as they say in New Orleans), can be impossible if you lose a good parking spot or are in a hurry to see the next parade.
I began the carnival season with the intention of forgoing the idea of experiencing carnival in Panama. My sister used last year’s dates for carnival when she booked our airline tickets, an easy mistake if you don’t celebrate Mardi Gras or Easter regularly. I told her that I would be spending Mardi Gras in New Orleans with friends and family. She assured me that Carnival in Panama was different than Carnival in New Orleans or Brazil or the rest of the world celebrating the Catholic festival. The calendar mix-up ensured we had a more authentic experience and enjoyable trip to the Panama. She didn’t realize that Mardi Gras and Easter are dependant on the ever wavering cycles of the moon. The festivities last for weeks on end, before Fat Tuesday and the ensuing fast for lent. However, New Orleans will certainly break the lent fasting shortly after Mardi Gras for the St. Patrick’s Day parade next weekend. Mardi Gras falls on Tuesday, March 8. Mardi Gras can occur as early as February 3 and as late as March 9. This year leaves very little wiggle room for the lent respite of the St. Patick’s Day and St. Joseph Day celebrations.
As someone who has experienced Mardi Gras for seven years, since before Hurricane Katrina, I know that the city’s people population seems to double in size. Dining at a favorite restaurant like Jacques-imo’s can be a challenge, sometimes impossible the weekend before Mardi Gras day. This year HBO has decided to make things on my block a little more interesting. The Episode Manager left a flyer on my doorstep, “Filming Night Parade, Muses, in Your Area.” The all-female krewe has been a favorite parade for over a decade. Add HBO to the mix and I must be homebound and parade bound for the evening. Although the letter assured us the cable show’s “footprint” would be small, I let go of the idea of accomplishing anything other than parading that evening with the cast and crew of Treme, my neighbors, and all the tourists from the North Shore crowding for a chance to catch some girly throws and plastic beads made in China. I had high hopes of going to yoga today, but I let go of that idea as well.
Next week, Mardi Gras gives way to lent and the St. Patrick's Day parades. I will be driving back to California. On Sunday, March 13, I join the Hitched: Writing in Political Oppression Poetry Series at Beyond Baroque, along with Sholeh Wolpe, Alicia Partnoy, Ramon Garcia, and Bilal Shaw, hosted by Xochitl-Julissa Bermeo at 4pm, 681 Venice Blvd, Venice, CA 90291Add a Comment
I have always wanted to be one of those Zen-like relaxed people who nod and listen and never worry. This past summer, a woman I met was talking to me about yoga. I figured if I tried yoga, I would become more Zen-like and calm. Right? Isn't that how it works?
Here is a free coloring page from the book I illustrated for Teresa Ann Power, "The ABCs of Yoga for Kids". In yoga, focus on breathing is very important.
Ever wondered why some creatures appear to be truly ‘at one’ with themselves and their environment? Yoga has become so popular, it has even extended to the realm of animals. These pics show the practice of yoga to indeed be universal.
Just a little warm up. One leg at a time. Of course, some creatures have more legs to warm up than others. A spot of leaf-top leg-bend yoga has become a popular way for these fellas to kick off their mornings before a busy day doing, er… beetley things.
A candid shot taken at a mid-morning flamingo yoga class. Now, all together, the “tree” pose. Hold… and breathe…. Hey, you at the back. I said “tree” not “teapot”.
This dragonfly is carrying out a lovely elbow balance known in human yoga as the “feathered peacock pose”. A true yogi. Note the focus and stillness required to successfully perform this pose. Years of practice. Only a master could achieve this.
Nice to see a squirrel having a good shot at the “plough” pose Either that or he’s trying to let loose a little trapped wind. …. Or he’s dead.
Yes, it is ultra-sandy. Oh you said “ustra-sana” - my mistake. Yes, that’s yoga-ese for “camel” pose. Although, the camel is refusing to join in - he’s got the hump. (Any other hump jokes - please keep to yourselves)
Some animals have become so proficient at meditation, they have evolved a middle eye. This frog now sees only with his third eye, having lost the use of the first two.
And finally, a beautiful photo captured during this iguana’s early evening ’sun salutation’ sequence. Let the photo speak for itself. Namaste. (That means “I respect the god within you that is also within me” or words to that effect. Yoga people say this a lot)Add a Comment
Because of the success of the book "The ABCs of Yoga for Kids", this accompanying poster is being released. I believe it will be sold through the official website, as well as Amazon.com. It is meant to be used as a fun poster for kids to hang on their walls, as well as an instructional tool for yoga studios.
Watch for more info on an upcoming "The ABCs of Yoga for Kids" coloring book as well.
I’m involved with a number of writing groups and events one of which is the Love is Murder Con (LIM CON) held during the first weekend in February. We’ve held it annually until now, taking a break in 2010 to reorganize and the decision was an appropriate one for the board, the conference and the attendees. Just wait until you see what we have planned for 2011.
We had our most recent board meeting last week to go over a variety of issues that conference boards usually discuss and I left the meeting feeling quite excited about the 2011 LIM CON. As we continue to hear of other CON’s folding or taking even longer breaks than just the one year we did, it’s becoming clearer that our 2011 LIM CON will be a well-attended and high-energy event.
We’re working on a new web page so check the website from time to time, especially in Jan 2010 for updates. The url is www.loveismurder.net.
In the meantime, I’ve been happily working and writing and cooking. I’m working on a cookbook that I’m very excited about and hope to have it available for the 2011 Holiday Season. I continue to plug away at my fiction and have started writing more poetry and short stories.
I say happily working because I do have a good job. It’s hard and challenging work, but I’m happily and gainfully employed with benefits and I have a job that is as about as guaranteed as they come. Given the cost of my daughter’s education, a recent divorce and so many other issues, I doubt I’ll retire anytime soon, but that’s okay since I do actually enjoy my work and I receive bi-annual feedback during reviews that my work is appreciated. I count my blessings each and everyday.
While I’ve hits some bumps in the road these past two years, 2010 and beyond is shaping up to be incredibly rewarding on all fronts and I have to say that I’m excited about it, especially the time I’ve been able to carve out for my writing. Interestingly enough my yoga practice has facilitated this more than anything else. I’m a yoga cheerleader these days because the yoga process and philosophy has provided me with a foundation to accomplish many things I only dreamed about, and more importantly, helped me through some difficult times.
So, as I continue to be busy with work, writing, and living my life, I’ve finally found a peacefulness that I’ve never known before and a sense of living consciously that has kept me safe from some very negative energy from people that have unpleasantly surprised me of late. To these individuals and everyone else out there I wish only good things and positive energy and will genuinely end this entry on a yoga note - Namaste.
To celebrate the new year and all of my loyal blog followers, I will be giving away a copy of my newly illustrated "The ABCs of Yoga for Kids" coloring book. The book contains pages to color with poses for each letter of the alphabet. It is wonderful on its own or as part of the collection, which includes the hardcover book and the poster. All will be available through the publisher's website, or at Amazon.com.
But if you leave a comment on this post anytime now through January 4th, your name will be entered to win a free copy of the book. I will be giving away only one copy, but the drawing will be random and will take place on January 5th, and anyone can win! Good luck, and Happy New Year!
Just after midnite today, I drew the winner of the "ABCs of Yoga for Kids" Coloring Book. The winner is...Kathleen W. of Katydid & Kid! Congratulations. I hope your little one loves coloring and learning the poses!
While everyone else seems to be making those pesky resolutions for the New Year, I'm working on some life resolutions instead. It's just going slightly slower than I expected. I have some good reasons for this but then everyone usually does because they generally fall into the category of life happens.
Mine include an unexpected business trip, my 16 1/2 year-old dog is ill and may not recover, the pace at work seems to continue to increase, and - well, you get the point. Life Happens!
I did write down some goals, or resolutions, such as: write more, travel more, better organization at work and home, yoga everyday, enjoy life wherever possible, and so on, and so on. I've come to the conclusion, however, over the many years of making New Year's resolutions that what I need is Life Resolutions - in other words, add/subtract things from my life that make sense for the rest of my life.
One of those "things" is yoga. I like the philosophy of yoga and the opportunity for growth and awareness. With New Year's resolutions, a very small percentage, including me, are able to keep them. I've always felt like a failure by February because for the most part, the resolutions weren't reasonable and didn't take into account that life happens.
With yoga and it's many forms of practice, the fact that life happens is part of the process. Besides, it's more workable to fit my goals above into the rest of my life instead of a year.
Happy writing everyone.
"Yoga keeps us focused and calm."
My 2009 illustrated book "The ABCs of Yoga for Kids" (written by Teresa Anne Power) has just won its 5th award,the Gold Medal in the Picture Book - Body, Mind & Spirit category in the 2010 Mom's Choice Awards!
You can also read a great review of the book here.
And order the book here.
If you've never tried yoga, it is a great exercise in strength, balance, focus, body awareness, and a great stress reliever. I always leave yoga class with a sense of calm and well-being, and ready for bed!
This post would not be complete without me mentioning one of my favorite sites to visit. It is the site of my friend Polly over at "Yoga is Yummy". Last year I designed a logo for her DVD. You can see her yoga demos, recipes, and even read snippets to nourish your spirit here.
Much like they describe stretching in yoga, love grows when moving in opposition. Love is this guiding force that roots you down deeper and more firmly so that you can stretch, grow and extend upwards into lightness, into yourself, into stillness. It's a push and pull, opposition and union, you and the divine... all part of the same big gobbledigook of energy pushing to let itself grow & vibrate!
Ah...conferences! So hard to sum up three days in short, easily digested blog posts. So I'm going to be brief and will post all week.
The Magic of Writing:
What did the faculty say they do when they get stuck in their own writing?
Gary Schmidt, author of 2008 Newbery Honor Award winner, The Wednesday Wars, and many other novels said there is no such thing as writer's block. If you are stuck on the main plot line write in the negative space. Get off 1st Ave. and write what's happening on 2nd and 3rd and 4th Ave. Might not use any of it, but when you find out what's on the other avenues you could find a surprise waiting for you.
Yuyi Morales, award winning storyteller and illustrator, said that she finds an image she loves and illustrates something similar, tries to copy the style, create like him or her. This pulls her out of her comfort zone and brings her out of her own techniques. She said that when we we find something we love about someone it's like we are looking in the mirror. This process usually brings out a nugget of voice.
Faculty Book Picks
Lips Touch by Laini Taylor
How To Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Staniford
Charles & Emma by Deborah Heiligman
Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan
The Hotel Under the Sand by Kage Baker
Bigger Than Life by Carmen Bernier-Grand
Jeremy Draws A Monster by Peter McCarty
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
Yesterday I practiced Yin Yoga for the first time and it felt SO amazing. Loved it:)
If you order any of the books I have illustrated (click the links on the right margin of this blog), I will personally sign a book plate and drop it in the mail to you in time for the holidays. I am working on book plate designs for "The ABCs of Yoga for Kids", "Little Black Ant on Park Street", and "Champ's Story: Dogs Get Cancer Too!", and will post examples after the weekend.Add a Comment
I've wanted to try yoga for a while now. This wish was inspired by the calm and creativity of writer friends like Liz Garton Scanlon, who is so filled with peace and gratefulness and generosity that you'd think she'd be annoying, except that she's clever and funny and real, and you can't help but love her. The past year or two especially, my brain feels like a pinball, zinging from topic to topic, bouncing from task to task way too fast and violently to actually accomplish any meaningful thought. So, I finally went to a hatha yoga class at the gym one Sunday night a couple of months ago, and I loved it. I'm doing two classes a week now, and I want to add one more.
Lots of the moves aren't all that hard physically, because I'm flexible, and these aren't highly advanced classes. They're very "do what's available to you and don't worry about what the person on the mat next to yours is doing." I'm good at the moves (postures?), but bad at anything that stresses my wrists. I'm pretty wobbly at the balance stuff, too! So some of it's easy, and some of it's difficult.
But the most difficult part by far is focusing on the moment. Not letting my mind wander. Not thinking about my to-do list. Not mentally reviewing the budget. Not wondering if I'll ever sell another trade book. Not worrying about my daughter in her new apartment. Not thinking ahead to the manuscript that's due next week.
So that's what I'm most hoping to get: a refuge from the constant decision-making and chaos of real life, and, eventually, an ability to quiet my mind, focus better, and let my creativity run wild.
Here's my first submission...