April 5/19 April Blogpost #1
Today is an exciting day.
As duties are checked off my end of semester to-do list, one by one, a little satisfaction…
As the snow melt in the garden is revealing the robust yellow head of the rhubarb plant, announcing spring’s intention for growth and release.
As I review and reminisce on the past year, the past spring and summer in Iceland, my CUSRA project, followed by my somatic explorations in the dance program and continued in my capstone class finally… I am now ready to create my final document, to bring the Physicality of Singing work finally together.
A major stressor of the past year was feeling that I was unable to wrap up my CUSRA project, and connect the dots between fascial release, singing, somatics and.. .ICELAND. This is work that has helped me to establish myself and my passion for the study of embodiment. I understand now that this was not something that I could possibly wrap up within one summer. There was too much for me to explore, too much curiosity. I think that this is my life work. Body and Voice. The physicality of singing. Too big!! Wow, I needed a break/time to digest.
Now, coming full circle, as my capstone comes to an end and as I reach the deadline for my retrospective paper that my prof graciously extended for me, I feel ready. The questions that I’m asking and attempting to answer are made real with experience and exploration and I am excited to share.
I’m listening to vocal recordings that I made in Iceland, feeling the wind and the Artic /North Atlantic ocean and hearing my voice and body responding to their sublimity.
These recordings are an experience. I think it is important that I use them to convey the ideas of embodiment that I’d like to express in my retrospective paper. Perhaps the paper will be a transcript of an audio-blog. Well this is where I’m at. And I’m so happy to feel the tangibility of closing this project with a sound-art creation.
Here is a photo of my brain on a whiteboard. 🙂
March 31/19 March Blogpost#2
I hate to be posting on the very last day of March. But here it is.
The workshop has been going well. I’ve been working with a variety of people, always in a small group. The content is mostly the same as the first week. Starting with a self led dance/stretch. I’ve incorporated a body shake that lasts about 5 minutes or so, to invigorate the sensation of the body. The two myofascial release techniques are always a part of the routine and it is really nice to take time for these on a regular weekly basis.
The Gaga dance technique of using the mobility of the hands, palms and fingers to inspire the same type of movement elsewhere… I’ve started using it to mobilize the roof of the mouth. Last week a participant said that he was amazed that something we call the hard palate could move as it does. he described the texture as being honeycomb-like.
I keep thinking about turning this somatic training into a performance. How could I perform this warm-up for an audience, perhaps incorporating somatic activities for an audience to follow along with…
When I watch a dance performance, I can feel my mirror neurons firing as my body starts to twitch along to the dance.
What would it be like as an audience member to be led in a somatic visualization to open up one’s awareness of one’s nasal cavity along with a vocalist on stage, and then as they start to sound the resonance in their nasal cavity and sing, would I relate more deeply with the sound? and feel as if it could come from me?
Yes, I’m definitely interested in pursuing a performance form of somatic singing, but for now, it’s just fine as a workshop.
Although, I feel that I actually got to use what I’m learning from this process last week in my presentation for my Transdisciplinary class. My group was performing ambient music (piano guitar voice and effects) which was meant to represent different states of consciousness and unconsciousness. When I was singing for the unconscious movements, I closed my body into a squat and sang through a filtered microphone. When I sang for the conscious movements, I stood and stretched my arms up and out and opened my ribcage in doing so. Letting my arms float and dance around me, I sang with an open and free voice. One of the audience members said that although his eyes were closed as he was listening, he could hear in my voice when I was moving.
This is definitely an inspiring place for me. voice in movement
March 14th/19 March Blogpost #1
This week I facilitated my 4th workshop. I received word before arriving from three of my regular attendees that they wouldn’t be able to make it this week so as I set up the room, I realized that this might be the day that I am alone in the practice. Which I think is fine as long as I continue the somatic/vocal exploration, but luckily a classmate from my Somatic dance class arrived to take part. (she saw the event on Facebook).
Post reading week, everyone’s time is just a little bit tighter. It’s actually the perfect time to take an hour to unwind and open one’s senses through this workshop, but the stress of multiple obligations makes it difficult to take that time. I realize that I need to push again to promote my workshop to reach a broader audience, because it is asking a lot out of the small crew that is coming to consistently make it each week. My classmate pointed out that I should share the information with the Somatic dance class… and I’m surprised that it had not occurred to me!!
So I will do that today. Also I sent out my workshop poster to the milliuex cluster, Textile and Materiality community. I could also advertise the event on my personal Facebook page, but I’m not sure if this event is aimed only for Concordia Students or should it be open to the general public.
February Blogpost #2
Here is the poster that I’ve been circulating for the somatic workshop:
February Blogpost #1
I hosted my first workshop yesterday. I let people know through word of mouth all last week as I was bogged down and didn’t get to making a poster. I need to do this ASAP!
But so far, I’ve made an announcement in my capstone class as well as visited the chamber choir to let them know. On Monday I’ll make an announcement in my Music History class.
So this first class was small, but really fantastic. I had two participants. But with all the work that I’ve done with a vocal trio, three people feels just right. I got to delve into a therapeutic warm-up myself and I also got to share this with two other singers from the department! Yip!
We did a lot of moving and stretching, releasing the breath and bringing sensation into the six limbs of the body: The feet, the hands, the head and the tail.
and then did some fascia release from the neck, working on the tissues of the collarbone. Really slow stretching.
We mobilized the ribcage and then the whole torso.
We made our way to the skull and jawbone, and did some fascia releases of the jaw muscles.
A little time was spent releasing the tongue, by stretching it out and then touching every tooth in our own mouth with the tip of the tongue.. a dynamic stretch.
We worked on opening the nasal cavity and mask, through stretching and massaging our face and then.. and only then did we begin to explore sound, ringing sound in our nasal cavity and mask first.
As we opened up the voice further, We maintained the relaxed movement in the body that does not allow tensions to build up.
For the last 5-7 minutes, we went into the stairwell and improvised some really interesting music together with the resonance that the stairwell provided.
All in all, this was such a satisfying experience. I will use this recipe as a base for workshops to come with some alterations, but really the purpose is to create a practice that can deepen with time.
January Blogpost #2
Full disclosure. I am putting myself in the exact place that I was last semester when I felt I had too much going on.
And! It is such a generous offer on the part of my prof to allow me to return to my capstone project and wrap it up this year… this spring. I feel I should just take this opportunity. Make it happen.
I’m turning my attention more to overlapping my projects as I discussed in the last blog post. So that means unifying my student association contribution and my cluster research with my Capstone.
This Capstone project, once it’s set up will also create a ritual of body voice care and allow me to share this work with other interested students.
I’ve set it in motion now, by identifying a time and place and emailing the MB depot to book the space. I will now make a facebook event and a poster that I can share through the Music Undergrad Students in Concordia facebook page as well as send to Niki to share with the Music students through email. I’m setting a deadline of February 4th to spread the word.
January Blogpost #1
To Revive my Capstone, or Await the Autumn
I decided this past November that it would be better if I discontinued my Capstone. I was overwhelmed in my semester’s load, and my project simply was not progressing. I felt frozen and locked out of my creativity and energetic willpower, so much that in my decision to drop the class, I even left that hanging (knowing the drop date wasn’t until early spring this year).
Now, in the new year, I’ve met with Christine and she has graciously offered me the opportunity to revive my project and finish this year. My other option is to complete my Capstone in one semester as an independent study this coming fall.
I’m debating now between the two.
The initial idea was to hold a somatic movement and voice workshop once a month for a group of student vocalists and record them at the beginning and then at the end of the year to see their progress.
As a way of making up for lost time, I would want to run a workshop on a weekly level.
I am also thinking about making this an open workshop to anyone in the Music department who is interested in explore a workshop in the theme of body/voice care. Thus people can come and go. I would document the progress of the workshop myself rather than having a controlled study where participants progress is recorded. The concrete outcome of the workshop is indeed a question that needs answering.
I am a part of MUSA (Music Undergrad Student Association) this year… and through the club, I was considering offering this workshop as a way to create a regular ritual of somatic movement and vocal warm-up and care for myself first. Facilitating a workshop would effectually allow me to invite others to join in and benefit from the practice as well.
I am also doing a project with the Textile and Materiality Cluster at the Milieux institute. This project is linked with my CUSRA project in the summer where I massaged classical singers to see if it affected any change in their singing voice. I’ve now shifted to a self-massage and movement practice and I’ve conducted a similar experiment on myself and analyzed my recorded results through a spectrogram. In the post massage/movement spectrogram, it is clear to see that there are more harmonics present in the voice and it is this image that I am using in my textile project. This semester, I will create a moving/self-massage and singing practice to bring my body towards a certain state of openness and then I will spend time in that state constructing a garment in the studio which will in some way display the image of the spectrogram. As the garment will be created out of a body and voice care practice, it will then be imbued and come to represent the openness in which it is created.
All this to say…. My extra-curricular projects could, with a little direction and focus, serve to create and complete a successful capstone. If I held my capstone workshop just before my time in the cluster sewing studio, this would be complementary.
Second September Blog post:
So as the semester has settled into itself, the pace and workload has become more clear. Seeing that I will be engaging in much research, reading, writing and organizing groups of people already, my creative self has started speaking to me, asking me to reconsider my Capstone project; asking for a simple composition project that involves collaborating with people who inspire me.
Which makes sense. I think that the original idea of putting on a Somatic workshop for Singers is great, but one that adds more research as well as the task organizing a group of people to an already loaded plate.
I’m excited about getting a chance to be musical, and putting the recording skills I have to use. My aim is to lean on collaboration to create a collection of songs/recordings that I will digitally release at the end of the school year.
I will work with my partner Steve, writing compositions for his collection of harmonious baselines.
I will work with a long time collaborator Karl, who is a composer and a producer. This will be an online collaboration (as he is based in Ontario), passing recordings back and forth.
and I will work with artist/writer, Alexis who is interested in writing Icelandic Rimur – inspired poems for me to add Icelandic Rimur – inspired melodies.
I would also like to dig through recordings I made this past summer in iceland of sung improvisations and use some material as a basis for a song.
My first Blog post for September: