Music Lessons over Zoom or Skype--or at my studio in Asheville NC As well as traditional musical knowledge, tools and techniques, I use mindfulness aspects of learning which can
accelerate the process. I will touch on some of those other aspects below.
First and Foremost-- Music is inside you -- Actualize it!!
Many budding musicians shoot themselves in the foot by assuming that good musicians are born that way. There may be some small genetic advantage for a tiny few, but a steady, intelligent approach can quickly level that playing field. Music is already inside you, it makes you tick! Music is the architecture of the soul and if you have a soul--and you do--you're a musician!! It's all there, in every atom and every cell, waiting for you to actualize it. But you must start to believe that your efforts WILL bear fruit. That's so key! They will bear fruit and here's why.
You already know a LOT! Let's wake it up and get it working for you!
There is something that the student already knows which is every bit as, if not more important than what the coach is offering. The student is already in possession of a treasure-trove of information and skills. A good teacher knows this and simply radiates that knowing back to the student. The reality is that the student has been exposed to trillions and trillions of impressions, influences and insights, all of which are contained in the subconscious mind. Instead of teaching only new ideas, the teacher also establishes an ambient which encourages that—already present—subconscious treasure to rise to the surface. The student then starts to awaken to her own potential as doubt and anxiety ebbs. A joyful, natural certainty, based on solid subconscious—now becoming conscious—data, slowly takes the place of the old self-doubt. It’s in that atmosphere of well-being and confidence that the teacher can impart new insights and techniques.
Even as we try very hard to improve ourselves technically, certain subconscious obstacles may lay hidden which can sabotage even our sincerest efforts. Again, the first of these is that many musicians haven't truly actualized themselves as musicians. It hasn't yet become real for them and somewhere deep inside they've put music out of their reach. Learning to be at ease with what you already know can put you where you need to be.
Grace and Effort
Even as we've begun to seriously give ourselves to music we may find that ability alone isn't enough to satisfy our deeper needs as artists. There is something indefinable which can be ignored in our quest for excellence, in our rush to accomplish. That 'something' may be defined as grace. The difference between grace and raw efforting is the difference between poetry and prose, between art and artifice. When we make great effort, if it's not met with great surrender, our work can seem desperate or we simply burn up. I work with students to find ease within effort so that the dominant feeling is a playful one.This disposition of relaxed awareness takes all the tension and doubt out of the process. This has the added benefit of making you feel very good which is a great place from which to start learning.
So my teaching methods are different from most in that as well as teaching the practical knowledge and techniques of singing and music, I place great emphasis on the heart/mind/spirit aspect of learning. This involves simple mindfulness, visualization and breathing techniques which help awaken the native intelligence, the genius, which lies latent within us. We all suspect that we have potential we are not accessing. I'd like to help you to tap in to the root of your own uniqueness and play with your musical dreams without fear of failure.
The Key to Learning and the Reason we fail
Often we approach learning with trepidation which of course, is counterproductive. We often start out with a buried conviction that we can't succeed. If this mental obstacle isn't addressed, it makes the learning process a struggle and the time-frame much longer. If this is the case with you, a little somatic orientation and breath-work can can work wonders here. This will help to take you out of your head and put you in touch with your heart, away from you thoughts and into your feelings to where all the "goodies" are already dancing within you.
Behind the turbulence of our thoughts there is a deep stillness. When accessed, this restful intelligence casts a light of clarity across our life and minds. Our true nature is well-being and joy. But we get confused and frustrated when we allow ourselves to identify with imperfections such as our lack of certain abilities. This is the main obstacle when we approach learning new skills and understandings: We identify with the perceived lack of ability and fall into the trap of thinking we are less than what we are. For some, this can be very painful and we often give up on our dreams because we feel bad about what we don’t yet have. If you think about this for a second you'll see how silly those negative thoughts about what we're not are. We don't feel bad about ourselves because we're not an airline pilot or not a rocket scientist, but we allow ourselves to feel bad about our voices or our musical skills. But the answer is amazingly simple: Don't allow yourself to feel bad about what you couldn't possibly know.
When we trade our self-worth for too much self-criticism we shoot ourselves in the foot. It takes focused work to achieve excellence and we will succeed if we learn to love that work. This can only be done consistently if we are enjoying ourselves as we work. Loving the process is akin to saying "I'm already where I want to be--at least psychologically--right now!!" Tools and techniques then become gateways and practice becomes a meditation, an extension of who we are. Wow!! If only someone had taught me that when I was a kid!!
Don't allow your music to be just another source of stress.
Musicians are an extremely courageous breed. Few of us took up music to get rich. But there is a vital urge, an abandon to trust, within those who are drawn to express themselves musically that is unique to them—and artists and dancers. This is a calling and has little to do with logic or self-preservation. It springs from pure love. This calling is wildly irrational, whimsical and often indulgent. Yet it is deeply satisfying and liberating. But despite all that fun stuff, it can truly be a daunting process to continue to let go and trust your art, to accelerate past the doubts and disappointments. We get to a point where we feel stuck, mired in doubt and hesitancy. What happened?
The “heart” relationship we first delighted in, seems to fade away when confronted with the sheer weight of things to learn—or time to practice and hurdles to jump. We can get caught in a mindset, an impasse, where even the desire for growth is perceived as an annoying pressure, one more reason to stress. If don’t get it right, either we force ourselves to press onwards, turning music into the same stressful syndrome as everything else, or we subconsciously conclude it can’t be done and even if we blunder on, we often never realize that a part of us has given up. Either way, we lose the sense of PLAY. Often with a student who seems stuck, we'll change the dynamic to fun and improv, bringing in elements of intentional silliness and laughter. Once we tune in to our basic nature, which is a playful one, learning becomes natural as we let go. Mindfulness can really help here. These techniques will help you to be at peace with where you are right now in your present abilities. You can have a lot of fun with the skills you have now and that’s the key—fun! Mindfulness has other very practical applications which have long been scientifically verified. It also helps unite your subconscious and conscious minds, giving you access to vast resources normally out of reach, shedding light on the hidden fears that sabotage and hold us back, dispelling them as they are seen to possess no power. Then, from a place of clarity and connectedness we’ll move on to explore the practical musical understandings and tools that will help you grow.
Passaggio ~ Personal Integration
Recently, I’ve added specialized classes for those who feel they need to go a little deeper into the heart of things. This work could be thought of a building a bridge between our outer and inner selves; Between the existential core of our reality and the part of us that gets lost in the everyday madness of stress and busy-ness. I call this work Passaggio. That's also the title of my new book. Read and excerpt here.
I teach from my studio in North Asheville, NC 28804 or over ZOOM or SKYPE. Click on the links below to learn more about the various lessons I offer.