SERIOUS FUN

ON THE THEME OF EASE in singing, life and other creative processes.  Should it be easy? Should it FEEL easy?  And if yes, is there a certain quantity of ‘hard’ work required before the sense, sight and sound of ease, appears?  Or is it, in fact, a WAY of learning? Flow. EASE. An experiment on a group of dancers with the Alexander Technique observed feedback from participants missing the sensation of EFFORT, feeling that it was TOO EASY to be right… Too easy. An addiction to strain, to the position of “I can’t”, to the feeling of being inadequate, can be a real thing of real consequence, as we see humorously depicted in the film What the Bleep do we know.

ON BEING PUNISHED FOR PLEASURE. For those of us freshly issued from Christian (?) heritage – though be it into Atheist or Pagan families – we may find internalized, secreted agents of judgement, tracking our pleasure and marking it down as SIN.  Suffering earns you a place in heaven, work hard, be humble and you shall be rewarded.  Do we ever hear “work supple”? If we are a ninja, we do!  As women, the added red flag on sensuality can have us curbing childhood delights, the deep sense of fun or intuitive pleasures. I realized recently that I take my art very seriously. Or rather, because I WANT TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY, I have put a whole lot of SERIOUS into my creative processes, at the expense of my FUN.  A 3 minute slot appeared in my daily practice for pure vocal whatever (fun) recently. I spend it with glee… 3 minutes? That’s quite enough. Snap back to something proper – by golly – we can’t have this whole frolic situation getting out of control! Wow. Stay tuned on that minute rationing…

ADMIRATION is a double edged sword. It guides us towards our chosen stars. It shows us qualities we wish to embody, things we could grow into, but it can also keep us separated from them. By lifting someone else so high in our mind’s eye, we can find ourselves belittled, crushed beneath the weight of the impossibility, apologizing for our insufficiency, as we slouch to keep them above us, when we come face to face. This relieves us of the responsibility for maturing the work in real time, real place. It can be comfortable to be a victim. It can be comfortable to be small, when memories of our brilliance as children, come swathed in the shame we were given for being so fresh, fearless, bright and original. Whoever has worked with Julia Cameron’s Artist Way, can hear her in my words.

GOING NOWHERE because I am already there/here. Charisma is presence, is about being actually present. Bert van Dijk, theater pedagogue, runs fantastic workshops on this theme. Coaches on stage-fright speak of bringing your attention down into the lower back or the feet. Side effects include enhanced communication with your audience/community.  This is about lowering and anchoring our center of gravity, which, anyone working with martial arts, Tai-chi or Chikung will know, is an absolutely timeless treasure. Simon Barker and Carl Dewhurst run barefoot and are experiencing a deep influence on their performance as musicians. They speak of bringing our consciousness down into the body and so, altering the default to be one of continual release and reset. On running.

AN INVITATION TO THE FUTURE. Being a split second ahead. Hearing it before it happens. Is it possible to be in two places at once? In the present and in the future? Yes, it is. The conductor Valery Gergiev shows us that it is. You cannot start without me. Whether we are conducting, improvising, composing a new piece or delivering a traditional song in all its specific modalities, we must be both utterly present – releasing the past like a ninja – and already hearing the future. LOVE IT.

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