With my two darling daughters, Christmas Day, 2020 (photo: Kathryn O’Brien)

As I considered the title for this final blog post of 2020 (good riddance, right?) I thought of “Brave New Year” (because, my goodness! Didn’t we all have to be braver than ever these past 10 months?). Feeling that it seemed somehow familiar, I thought I’d go back to last year’s end-of-year post. HA! I titled it exactly that. Upon review of that particular post and in light of all that’s happened since, singing and otherwise, I thought I’d call up a little more bravery and fresh ears (and other senses) for 2021.

A few discoveries in this past year:

  1. Singing can feel both too painful and be a balm for a wounded psyche–it all depends on the context.
  2. Singing in particular and music in general have felt both dangerous and essential these past several months.
  3. The connections forged through music and community are rich and profound, providing grounding and anchoring for so many of us.
  4. When we sing, we employ more senses than we think: hearing, seeing, feeling, but also smelling, tasting, sensing, touching. I have been working with these and more with my students and my self, with sometimes astonishing results.

So, as I look ahead to the next year I am bringing different and new intentions to my singing and teaching and living. Having discovered the power of mindfulness and meditation, I am endeavouring to remain more present in my experiences. Having noticed the deep need for music and connection, I endeavour to pay more attention to the message and the wholeheartedness of its delivery rather than obsessing about its “excellence” (or lack thereof–who am I to judge, after all?). And having lost a beloved friend, colleague and mentor in recent days, I endeavour to savour life more deeply, value relationships more wholeheartedly, and give more fully of myself when it matters, because as we know, nothing is permanent except change. If nothing else, COVID-19 has taught us this.

May 2021 fill you with love and light, and may you sing with an open throat, a warm heart and a full, brave spirit.