It begins in the full breath before the first chord with a gentle invitation, an encouraging welcome to connect to the song’s essence, a wish to become an instrument.
And then, the early notes of the accompaniment signal my body to get ready. I notice my feet steady on the ground, reaching deeply into the earth like the roots of a giant, ancient tree. My breathing slows.
My jaw relaxes as I open the internal spaces up and down my vocal corridor where the sound will move, imagining the energy freely flowing from my head to my root. Sometimes the corridor fills with waving light.
In the blink before the first note, I ask my throat to expand like a canyon. The vocal corridor opens to create resonant space. Opening the space feels as easy and as comforting as sinking back into a favourite, plush recliner.
On cue, the notes begin to rise and move and fly and dive and soar and float from me as I surrender to the spirit of the song, releasing my control with each sound. The song is in charge. I understand that creating music is not about “doing” anything; rather, creating music is about “being,” becoming the song. I trust the notes, the technique, the timing, the body to know what this song needs.
Using my voice seems more effortless with each bar of the song. The sound’s placement and resonance and vibration spreads joy throughout my body, a broad sonic smile from the inside-out. This is how I know everything is connected.
The song is alive and I know this version is unique, different than every version I’ve ever sang before and different than any version I will ever sing again. Each song is a new experience.
Before the end of the first verse I see her dancing in my mind’s eye. She is seven years old and wears white. I recognize her instantly as my younger self. She dances in a field, responding expressively to the music we are making.
At first, my voice is the puppeteer influencing how she moves but it soon changes as her dancing takes hold of the strings and I let go of the song to her movement, responding as we create something new together in this moment. The song, the space, the body, and the sound are always connected. I know if I watch her as I sing, the notes will dance too.
Sometimes people I know join her in the dance. Last week my uncle, who had recently passed, appeared and waltzed with the girl. Emotion and context and meaning added texture to my voice that sometimes caught me by surprise.
She dances each time I sing now. Every song is a meditation, an opportunity for transformation. If I allow myself to be transported by a song, I wonder if the audience will be transported too.
As I hear the final note fade, the musical ringing and energy releases to steady peace and calm. Silently and secretly, I thank the dancing girl. I thank the moment. I thank the people in the room. I thank the music. I thank the musician. I thank the experience. We’ve shared this song and ultimately it wasn’t about the notes, but it was about the feeling and connection we shared as sound transported us all to another place.
I started voice lessons with Marie Anderson in September 2018. Her teachings have changed everything. Thank-you, Marie.
A Poem Inspired by Learning Together
We tell a story about a mother who is seventy-four
and a daughter who is forty-nine,
adding up time and
along the line between them.
We share an open array of numbers,
imagining parts and wholes,
our strategies exposed by quantities
of numbers decomposing and
constant relationships in our minds
–before even holding a pencil.
Hand over heart we tap
until we see a place
in a string of familiar anchors
and friendly landmarks.
We can count back to see the value, partial
products of flexibility now.
Voices of facts and concepts
and ways to solve
burst with numerate enthusiasm
and joy, seeing how the teacher
draws our thoughts
together on a whiteboard.
We gasp at its simple magnitude.
Today was an ideal Sunday for going to the beach with my camera.
moss clings to my
spaces toured by ants and even
Motionless days pass
solid and sound in all seasons,
even this one, until my senses blistered.
Organized signals for help
unseen as my sedentary
service in subterranean
bass tones even
eluded that fir and birch and spruce and pine
who once stood beside me night and day.
Knowing boots rested on my back, even as I slept
as choked branches lay across my face, as I ate
soaked dreams drank my lineage
hardening the horizon–
Even until smouldering spells
struck nine and I waited to exhale.
Photo collection of Gereaux Island Lighthouse, near Britt/Byng Inlet, Ontario. My grandfather grew up in this lighthouse.
Most pictures were taken on the south shore, Britt/Byng Inlet.
There are much more interesting photos out there of the fire. It is a sad news story that I can’t stop following this summer. Each time we went out in the boat, we could see smoke rising up out of the bush. It’s heartbreaking to imagine the landscape I love so much in flames.
If you are looking for some sources of information about the fires, check out:
- CTV Northern Ontario News
- CBC News
- Follow Chris Ensing of CBC on Twitter (lots of great updates here)
- Follow the Key River Area Association on Facebook
Examining lives and works, seeking to understand the relationship between the writer and the words keeps me busy.
Spending hours with the work of Willam Shakespeare as an English teacher and debating its merits with students, reminded me that all writers are bound by humanity. Beyond the limits of time and culture, we share the experience of being human.
Shakespeare achieved mastery of his craft and mastery of what it means to be human. The universal, timeless nature of his plays are a testament to a man who wrote the truth without specific details about himself.
Shakespeare needed to be astutely aware of himself, those around him, and human nature. A great observer, he effectively translated his insights of humanity into diverse stories, writing what he learned.
The best writers are learners first.