This is an interview I did for the excellent book "The Spiritual Significance of Music" by Justin St. Vincent. Since then, Justin has written two great sequels to his book, with more insights from musicians from all over the world.Read More
Doesn't sound good anymore, but still holds the memories & smiles it brought to me when I was younger...
This group exercise is one of my favorite ones when I lead sound & drum circles. It is a powerful & touching acknowledgement of another person. In essence we are "honoring" another being by vocalizing their name in the sound circle, using their "chosen" name. For some attendees, it may be the first time ever when they feel "unconditionally seen & appreciated" by others.
- Gather or remain in a circle, seated or standing up.
- As a facilitator, explain these steps to the group in advance.
- Starting with the person to the left of the facilitator, each person will state their name, birth name or a name they feel an affinity with. Many choose their spiritual name.
- After the person states their name, everyone closes their eyes.
- The person whose name is about to be vocalized remains silent, just receiving the sound energy from the group.
- The person's name will be vocalized 3 times by the group, improvised.
- As a facilitator, lead the group by saying "breathing in" in preparation for the first vocalization with the exhale, & then proceed to sing, tone, or just say the person's name, leading everyone to do the same.
- Repeat the above step for the second & third vocalizations.
- Remain in silence for a few seconds, allowing the receiver to absorb the group's energy.
- Now repeat for the next person to the left (starting with stating their "name, etc."), or clockwise, until it is the facilitator's turn.
- As a facilitator, lead the group on the inhale, but remain silent as you receive their energy.
- After everyone's name has been vocalized, remain silent for two or three minutes.
- Slowly ask the group members to open their eyes & be fully present in the circle.
- Ask if anyone would like to share what this experience was like for them.
One comment I have always remembered through the years I have done this exercise was from an attendee: "I felt like I was seen & unconditionally accepted by others for the first time in my life."
Wordle.net result from my music, art skills...Read More
Wordle.net result with my professional resume...Read More
I've had a lot of fun doing local private sound healing sessions, & also group drum & sound circles. I have also been asked by a wider audience if I'd do a circle for their group, church, community, fund raiser, healing fair, company gathering or team building activity, birthday or holiday celebrations. Of course, this is what brings joy to my life, to share sound & music with others!
If you'd like to do or gift someone a private or group drum & sound healing session, please contact me. For a private session, in person is ideal, but I've done many sessions over video (Skype, FaceTime, ooVoo) very successfully as well, &a great option for those people farther away. I provide an environment of mutual respect & non-judgement for what you may be going through.
I use a variety of instruments to provide a healing environment in a sound healing session: gentle drums, rattles, flutes, crystal bowls, Tibetan bowls, chimes, wood drums, shakers, the voice & mantras/toning/chanting. I use the same instruments for a group session, while we focus more on the drumming aspect.
Individual sessions are usually one hour to one-and-a-half hours, while group sessions normally run one to two hours. My costs are based on the length of the session, as well as the location. For individual sessions, I prefer to do those out of my healing space/music studio.
So let me know if you have a private or group session to schedule. I am glad to participate with sound!
T'ai Chi & Mindfulness for Musicians & Creatives...
One of the more immediate benefits we can obtain from almost any meditative practice, including T'ai Chi, is an increased ability to focus our attention. Meditation by its own nature, is the process by which we can be increasingly aware of our thoughts & emotions. With practice then comes eventually the ability to choose these thoughts & emotions, in other words, what to focus on. This basic lesson is common to all major meditative techniques, & even most/all religions.
So how can an increased focus help my music practice? Quite simply, most of the playing mistakes I make when I sit down to play the guitar or compose music, are mistakes of attention, i.e. thinking of what I need to be doing later that day, feelings that come up from past & present experiences, distractions in my own music studio (I try to eliminate as many of those from my environment as I can), etc.
When we practice T'ai Chi, as an example of one of these meditative techniques, I increase my focus & attention on the present moment. The slow movements helps my mind to focus on these movements, while the rest of my attention shifts to observing what I feel, what I think, but not holding on to any particular thought or feeling. With daily practice, this attention & focus on the present moment becomes easier to achieve & sustain while we are practicing. But what happens after we stop doing T'ai Chi? Well, the real test of its effectiveness is when this increased focus remains with us after we stop our practice for the day. In the beginning we may experience this clear focus for a few minutes afterwards, but with a daily practice routine, the aftereffects will remain with us for longer & longer periods. Until this ability to focus on whatever we want remains with us during the whole day, as we were intended to function. Eventually we have this increased focus with us always, nurtured by our daily practice. Also to keep in mind is that we are human beings, so naturally we will experience events in our lives that will throw us off our balance. But the more we have cultivated this balanced state, the harder it will be to loose our center, & easier to recover it when we are thrown off balance. In my T'ai Chi training we often heard that the eventual (ideal) goal of T'ai Chi is to not have to do it anymore. While this is an ideal, in practical terms it means that T'ai Chi is a tool to helps us be more present in our lives, not to be separate from it.
This is an invaluable skill for any musician or creative artist. The better I can focus, the more progress I make during my music practice time, the better I can prepare & perform during music events, the better I can regroup after a performance, in order to get ready for the next one. This focus also helps with any pre-performance jitters or stomach butterflies we may be feeling, as our confidence grows that we are prepared for an event.
Like music practice itself, practice makes (near) perfect when it comes to T'ai Chi. It can become an amazing "instrument" in our music toolbox!