I was very privileged and pleased to participate in a week of Solo Voice Masterclasses on Salt Spring Island last week. The highly respected vocal coach leading the Masterclasses was Eva Bostrand, and the week’s activities were hosted by Carol Brown. My role was to help the singers become more aligned, relaxed and efficient in their body usage, or their state of embodiment, whilst singing. The results were very impressive and gratifying.
The title line above is of course a parody on the Stephen Sondheim song from “Into the Woods”, called “Giants in the Sky” – which one of the singers, Brian Lawrence, did for last Saturday night’s concert. It is one of several songs I can not seem to get out of my head – not that I want to. Anyway, while musing about the many wonderful impressions from that week of discovery and exploration, the second line from Giants in the Sky morphed into the two variations appearing in the title line above.
When Carol Brown invited me to join the team working with the solo vocalists I told her of the workshop I will be offering as part of an historic Osteopathic conference in Berlin happening late September, early October of this year on Teaching Palpation to Osteopaths and Osteopathic Physicians. My workshop in Berlin is entitled “Bringing More Presence to the Art of Palpation”. Carol wondered whether I was interested and willing to rework that workshop into a one hour timeframe and make it accessible to the singers and members of the public (including bodywork therapists) who would be invited to attend. So I was interested, and I did that, and I learned a great deal that will be useful to me in Berlin. More importantly for this post, and for the vocal Masterclass participants and other attendees of my talk one week ago, however, a clear understanding seemed to emerge about the relevance of using Rod Punnett’s Practice Minder Biofeedback device as one possible tool to deepen Presence. Presence that is in service of greater ease and effectiveness in any practice – whether the practice is meditation, movement practice of some kind, therapy, or singing in top form. By the latter phrase I do not mean just practicing with more technical ease and prowess (though that is included), but in addition I mean that there is more warmth, more humanity, more compassion, and more artistic breadth and depth brought into the embodiment of conscious practice.
Seeing and hearing the concert that the students and accompanist gave on Saturday night was a wonderful demonstration of Presence in the manner my talk was alluding to. That Presence was possible in this case when a gifted vocal coach like Eva Bostrand teams with an accompanist/pianist of the calibre of Don Conley (he was amazingly present and played beautifully), and with my own input, prior to the concert. Then there was the fact that Carol Brown brought the whole thing into being. I don’t know how she does it, but Carol is one of the singers herself whilst also organising all of the lead up and promotion and carry through of the event, and (with the very able and good-natured support of her husband, Ted) hosts the whole week’s events at their lovely purpose-built home and at Ganges’ United Church, where the concert was held.
Here are the links to an audio recording of the talk I gave. I lost about three minutes in the recording when my iPhone received a phone call and kicked me out of recording mode – which is why the recording is in two parts.