Thursday, December 9, 2010

For most of history, Anonymous was a woman. (Virginia Woolf)

I guess what I've really been thinking a great deal about is the creative process in general, and also, the problems it poses for some of us "womenfolk".  How do we make a space in our lives for this process? What facilitates it, what nourishes it, when is the fruit ready to bear? How do we love ourselves enough to say, "This is worthy of my time?" It is so easy for women especially to put aside their inner muse. "Whoops! I am too busy with the care and feeding of a small child to oversee the nurturance of a small poem or song..." or " I am too crazed with planning dinners for the week to plan an artistic journey."
This is a real dilemma. I love my time with family. I love a life centered around  the being I helped create; (hey, in fact, I did most of the work!) and I know I will never create with my heart, my mind. my talents and training notwithstanding, anything as amazing as my body did, almost unconsciously. This is the power of woman, the one so obvious it gets ignored; because we live in a world where that is taken for granted and even diminished.
What's all this to do with making art, of whatever ilk? I'm always surprised when certain people (you know who you are) express disdain that through the ages women haven't been the great artists that men have been or have been in fewer numbers. OMG, I think, are they that stupid? Do they really not get the harrowing inequity between the sexes throughout the patriarchal age in so many and various cultures? While this isn't the place to recount crimes against womankind, we can surely say without umbrage that until very recent times, women have been regulated to childbirth, raising children, and contributing to society mostly on an interpersonal level. Suffice it to say that women have had so much more to negotiate in this life, as the actual vessels of creation of human life on this planet. We know that are children are unique, wondrous beings that require us fully. Yet we are our own. We are among the unique progeny of our own Mothers and Fathers-and within us are also the seeds of poetry , dance, silhouette and song. We have something to say and most find that "room of our own" in which to give birth to it, while some of us, clearly not all, are also giving birth to very small people, and seeing them through the passages of life. Hopefully we are sharing that burden with a significant other, but clearly many of us are not. The majority of the care of the small ones falls on the so called "weaker sex" who in so many instances, life requires need be stronger.

Friday, November 19, 2010

large drifts of wood...along the Sound.

A glorious trip to Seattle and reconnecting with my sister
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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I feel really cozy and like writing more when winter starts blowing it's chill my way. (Something of Bergman in that maybe...the northern solitude, the indoors becomes the "inner"). I am reminded of an experience I had a few years back. This was during those heady days of working the office job, yes, a nine to fiver, feeling pretty much like a fish out of water. It was Christmas week, and my boss decided to give us some extra time off. The business we were in pretty much tanked after the Christmas holiday and we would sit around with nothing to do anyway. It was such a nice and welcome surprise. I recall the relish with which I anticipated the time off, with the holiday shopping over during that sleepy week between Christmas Day and New Year's Eve. It also put me in mind of a certain no not Jesus. My son, Nicholas, was born on December 25th, thus sealing that day as one of unequivocal importance in my personal journey. And yeah the Jesus thing is cool too.
I digress, sort of. I just remember these few extra days as being extraordinarily delightful in a way I did not expect. The young child was playing in the next room, showing off the new birthday Christmas toys to friends, or on a play date, hubby at work, poor guy. And I was sitting next to the jolly tree, with a cup of tea, reading, journaling, looking out at the grey darkness that I could decide not to venture into, and feeling so decadently bad and so deliciously good. I keep going back to this theme it seems, the quiet, the inner, the stillness that reminds me who I am and that I am, as they say, not a human "doing" but a human "being". It it in those moments that things emerge from the depths, things I need, things I crave, things that cannot be bought or sold, nor coached, nor required. These are a few of my favorite things.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

so here I sit..

Waiting for a student who appears to be a no show. This week has been fraught with cancellations, I forgots, and out and out I quits. Quitters! Sometimes it seems to me that people get discouraged just when things are starting to heat up, just when the work begins, their motivation ends. I try to keep people pressing on through their challenges, and I hope to inspire them whenever possible. But to those who have no stomach for work and challenges, (a normal and healthy part of any creative process!) I kindly bid adieu.
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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Introvert's Dilemma

I just breathed a deep sigh of relief, hearing my own thoughts, the quiet surrounding, the uninterrupted exchange of internal ideas....Nobody's home! YES! What can I say, I love my friends and family boundlessly, but I sometimes feel I lack the proper filters for existing on this earth as both artist and mom/wife/teacher/chief cook and bottle washer....The noise of the world encroaches and the noise of needs needs needs, everyone's needs but the still voice of unreason. The imagination's pictures, waiting to unfold, waiting until all has calmed down and daily duties (which are, let's face it, NEVER done) are put aside, start to slowly unravel before us. We cannot force them to come forward, nor can we coax them when things are hectic. At least I can't. This may well be the dilemma of an introvert. I have become SO much more extroverted and out in the world then I once was that I forget. Hello, somebody else is in there! The real somebody, or the original somebody maybe. Maybe not more important or real, but neglected in all of this hubbub of caretaking, and just living the physical existence. That inner time gets relegated to luxury, "special" time and I find myself lost and a bit of a bitch. Yeah this isn't only the introvert's problem, I'm thinking it's also a Mom problem, a woman problem. Cause, y'all, we are doing waaaaaaaaaaaaaayyy too much.
So I'm taking a deep breath today, before students and instead of preparing or cleaning or shopping for items of food. And I'm listening in on the radio waves of my own grey matter. And it's raining which is as it should be.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Collaboration, insecurity and gifts from the heavens...

Collaboration. It is a mysterious, sometimes joyous, sometimes gut-wrenching process. I have collaborated with various musicians over the years on songs with mixed emotions, (and mixed results!) but now I seem to be entering a phase where the joint creative process is more stimulating and more satisfying over all. I'm likin' it. So first of all, working on a new song with The Red Apples. This song is one of my "I went for a long walk and went into kind of a trance and was gifted with this song by the Universe" songs. It's kinda mystical and came more or less of a piece and immediately was recorded onto my little digital friend I carry around with me for just such moments. Then I took it home and nursed it and was thrilled and happy...a new birth! I fixed the wording, I polished up the bridge, I added the third verse I knew it needed...But then, in true Wendy fashion, I kinda ignored it for a long time. I let it languish ohhhh so sadly. I kept telling Ron I wanted to work on it with him, but I was afraid it might be too quirky and not "rootsy" enough for our band...Everyone would complain, the chick singer has another of her girlie songs. Ok this was all in my head I admit. I ADMIT IT!
Finally I played it for Ron, and he said yeah, let's bring it to the band. OK! It has been sooo much fun. The band has been really bringing their best to this song...Dave fleshed out the chords in a really perfect way, and came up with a cool guitar lick for the intro, Kenji has brought rhythmic bass lines and interesting vocal backup ideas, and Ron, as always, brought a sense of the overall feel of the song, the arrangement, and the instrumentation. I feel very grateful to have these creative and accomplished musicians working to bring my song to fruition! Wow, what did I do right?
And I ain't done yet! More about this to come....

Monday, June 14, 2010

How about going to lessons regularly?

Ok here we many of us voice teachers as well as other music teachers have had this issue? (I'm guessing every single one!) Students who don't prioritize their lessons and miss them on a consistent basis. These are the same ones who inevitably cry and moan that they are having problems with their voice and/or lack consistency in their singing. WHA?????????????? Alright I'm kinda joking around but this is a real issue. IF you want to learn to, say, play the piano, you are gonna have to practice. Ditto guitar, flute, oboe, bagpipes, didgeridoo whatever! Yes? Well the same goes for your singing dudes and dudettes. Your voice is a musical instrument that you are attempting to master. It has all kinds of subtlety and nuance to come to terms with and even though you use your voice all day every day (more or less) becoming an excellent singer involves a true commitment to singing and music and the care and training of your voice. There are no shortcuts to the art of singing any more than there are to training for a marathon or getting a degree or any other pursuit that is worthwhile. So show up for the lesson! And practice!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Singing with Inspiration

"Singing must come from an internally inspired and uplifted place." I find that the emotion of inspiration creates a relaxation within the lower body muscles which makes for a wonderful feeling in singing. Elastic energized flexible muscles are the result; a state of the body which I strive to achieve with my singers. It is important to remember that each of us must experience successful singing before the 'emotion of fear' will drop away.
from "How to Apply Technique to Repertoire" by David L. Jones
This is an excellent quote with which I heartily concur. In it Mr. Jones is quoting Alan Lindquist, one of the foremost vocal researchers of his day.
I always tell my students that when they are singing properly they will achieve a feeling of euphoria. The breath will be balanced and the body will feel energized and, yes, inspired. The sound flows without overly strenuous exertion, and hopefully, the feeling that the music is conveying will be embodied by the singer as well. This is ultimately what we are trying to achieve, yes?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

What about those online and DVD voice lessons?

That is a very good question. I recently had a student come to me who was using a dvd he had purchased from a voice teacher online. I have no idea if that particular program is any good or not-but I can tell my readers what I told him. You can do those exercises until the cows come home but you won't know what you are doing right or wrong or sideways and backwards unless an actual teacher is listening to you doing them. Furthermore, you won't know what adjustments to make unless you get feedback and actual instruction. So, the value of that kind of thing is limited at best. You could use the cd/dvd exercises as a supplement to real study or for warm ups, I suppose, but in no way can that replace a real teacher/coach, which means a real pair of eyes, and ears, with which to watch and listen.  A real teacher with education about the techniques of singing, sound production, performance, etc. and experience using those techniques is what the voice student requires. A teacher who, almost certainly, is also a singer, who is not only physically present but sensitive to what the student is doing physically, whether or not it works,  and how it can be improved. There are any number of perils the beginning singer/performer may be subjecting him or herself to while executing vocalises without any actual feedback from an instructor, from simply singing out of tune repeatedly and thus reinforcing the negative, to straining and thus possibly injuring the voice. Please get a real teacher-PLEASE!
Now how to choose one? To be continued.....