And I'll dream with you.
What I am about to offer is a new concept for me, yet something about the idea resonates with me. I feel like it's an evolution of the teaching I have been doing since 1996 when I timidly began planning and leading my first singing sessions, called 'Women's Voices'. I progressed from there to individual lessons... slowly, slowly learning from my students and their journey, amazed at their trust in me, slowly growing to a place where I felt what I was sharing was a catalyst for evolution in others, and also in myself.
For many years now I have offered my lessons to shy singers, usually 45 minutes or an hour a week for each student, focussed on this idea of freeing the voice from fear. This work has been the most meaningful of my life. I have gone from someone pushing papers in an office where politics and gossip and negativity abounds, to a place of calm contemplation, and a sincere wish to somehow make a difference, however small, in the lives of those who shared their time with me.
I can write you a resume of all I have done, but for me the years and the dates and the words and the numbers are meaningless without the vision. The vision of someone so terrified when they walked in the door for the first time, that they were visibly shaking, and their voice could barely be heard. The vision of that same someone, later in time, looking both surprised and elated after singing something in a way they can hardly believe, so easily and so free. So beautifully. We share smiles, and perhaps even tears.
Usually this evolution takes time. More time that perhaps we wish to acknowledge. More practice than perhaps we expect to do. More perseverance than perhaps we thought we owned. For myself the journey of healing through voice took twelve years. That sounds like a long time, doesn't it. But it was my journey.
I was asleep at the beginning of it. It took me about five or more years just to wake up. And the manner of my waking had to be slow. Gentle. It took me a long time to even have any consciousness of how much I held myself back from life. I knew I was shy and avoided social situations. I knew I felt so awkward in the coffee room at work I literally stammered my responses to normal questions like 'how was your weekend?'
"F-f-f-f-fine," I'd say in a less than nice tone, so uncomfortable with the necessity of being social when I had no idea how to be social... I just pushed people away.
It was working with my voice that somehow allowed me to find a way out of this place I had created to ensure I was safe. For as much as I was and am shy, I have loved music all my life and always dreamed of singing. It was this passion for music and my fondness for challenge that began me down the path.
Oh, I almost stopped. Every week. I'd take the 40-minute bus ride to my singing teacher's home, arrive despondent, thinking 'who am I to think I can sing,' and 'I'm just wasting everyone's time,' and 'they're just being nice,' and 'who am I kidding,' and 'I started too late, I'm too old.' But every time I seriously thought about quitting (a lot), I couldn't. I couldn't imagine not continuing to try, no matter how hard it was, no matter how little progress I made... and some tiny voice inside of me started to say, 'just keep going. Even if you never sing anywhere, this is helping you. This might move you forward. This might be the path to a new place.' Thankfully, I listened.
I listened to myself and to my maestro, and I kept working on it whether it felt futile or whether it felt useless or whether it (occasionally) felt different...
And as I started to learn how what I thought during the act of singing directly impacted my ability to sing... as I started to see how my fear inhibited my voice... as I started to learn vocal technique that helped me to understand what the voice needs... as I started to chip away at the 'shy' to find the 'singer'... I began to heal. I began to reprogram. I began to let go of the old... and tentatively find the new.
I'm fond of saying... it took me eight years to find my voice and twelve years to be able to sing without fear. I still remember the day I came home after singing somewhere and I just stopped in my tracks with a total sense of astonishment and I said, "Oh my goodness!! I wasn't nervous!!" Believe me when I say, I never ever could have imagined that day.
For most of my students the journey is different. They come to me as fully awake human beings desiring to grow vocally, to explore what they are capable of, to find a way out of the constriction of fear. But an investment of time, practice and patience is required to make that happen.
So... here's what I'm thinking. Most adult voice students take 3 or 4 lessons a month. There's nothing wrong with that. Many of my students have done that and have progressed (particularly if they practised *wink).
But what if we consider the possibility of taking a path to discovery together in a different manner? It will require a significant commitment of time. Perhaps journalling. Perhaps walking in the rain. Perhaps including Alexander Technique or massage or Tai Chi or swimming.
I am envisioning... this exploration of voice, this journey of holistic practice and discovery, taking four weeks of consistent sessions, one-on-one. What will this month look like for you and I? Here are some notes I have jotted down..
The Shy Singer: Gentle Beginnings
-an exploration of what is possible
-no practice required
-sleep, hydration, calm is what we need
-together each day for an hour at a peaceful time...
-working holistically to experience the possibilities
-exploring new pathways
-working organically with the voice and the student
Bearing in mind that each of us is an individual. Our experiences are different. Our programming varies. Our habits are not the same. Any outline needs to be flexible and adjust to the needs of the student. The tone deaf can sing on pitch, the injured voice can find tone, the shy voice can take up space, the one who held back can step forward... with time, with patience, with a sincere desire to allow change.
The goal is to come to a new understanding of the relationship between the voice and the environment, gently free the timid or the tone deaf from practices that inhibit effective production of sound, nurture the voice in a safe and encouraging way, and leave refreshed in mind and spirit because you have been working with awareness and breath and vibration each session day over the month.
We no longer need be in the same room in the same town. All GB sessions are online, one-on-one using the (free) 'Zoom' app. You will need a decent webcam, microphone, a quiet place to have the hour-long session without interruption...
This is the concept that has come to my mind as I contemplate the next manifestation of my teaching journey. If it resonates with you, then I would be pleased to speak to you about the possibilities. Just email me < firstname.lastname@example.org > and we'll find a day and time to chat on Zoom. We'll discuss your vocal dream and my vocal mentorship, and see if we can together envision walking this path together. ~ Vikki
Click here to read more... Gentle Beginnings Sketch
GENTLE BEGINNINGS is fully booked for: Nov/Dec 2019 & Jan 2020.
Please email me regarding intake for February 2020, or thereafter.