A few weeks ago I saw this weathervane on the roof of a house at sunrise. It made me think of the number of times it feels like I have had to shift direction in the last eight months or so–just like everyone else. I’ve noticed how unsettling this all is, for me, for my students and for my colleagues. The paths we thought were tried and true are no longer navigable. We are recharting our own courses, sometimes day by day.
We have two choices in this scenario: we can lament our lot and pine for the past, staying stuck. Or we can strike out anew and see where the wind takes us. Mostly, I have chosen the latter course. It’s been my m.o. to model this for my students too; I recognize their fear, their anxiety, their insecurity about their future (and their present). But I encourage them not to dwell on it. I remind us, collectively, of the opportunity this moment presents for us–the moment which invites us to experience and test something new and untried and see if we find it of value.
One recent practice session of mine was a case in point: I laid down with my belly on my theraball, and just made noises. Grunting, animalistic noises. It sounded like bad throat singing! But it felt deep, guttural and honest. Unfiltered. And I also allowed myself to just move to my vocalizations however I wanted to, letting my body move me. These activities proved quite invigorating and I had fun practicing for the first time in a long while. I mixed up my practice regimen, and my voice responded by being pliant and flexible, ready to answer my call. This felt like a miniature triumph.
I’m listening more to my students as well, allowing them to lead and send us in whatever direction they wish to go on a given day. More often than not, they have inherent wisdom and intuitiveness. It has led us down some very interesting vocal and interpretive paths, most of which we would never have discovered had we been following the same old road map. Sometimes it’s good to throw away the map (even if it’s because we’re forced to) and head down the road, direction unknown, and see where we end up.