I started practicing again this week. It felt scary and unfamiliar because I had left it for a while, but I thought I’d find my way back to it by doing some vocal improvisation–something that doesn’t come naturally to me. It’s not that I don’t like it, just that it hasn’t really been part of my ritual or my training. But that’s the whole point; I don’t want to go back to same old. I want to find new ways to connect to the joy of singing, fully embodied, exploratory, open-hearted and open-minded.

One of the tools I was introduced to this year was the Shruti box (app pictured above). My colleague in Community Music at Laurier, Deanna Yerichuk, came to my group class twice this term to practice improvisation techniques and she encouraged them to try this work with the Shruti box as inspiration. The idea is that really nothing you might improvise with against this sonic backdrop sounds wrong. Anything is possible. And this is what I wished to awaken in my virgin practice session after a longer hiatus.

Findings: create a space that feels joyful. I did this by intentionally entering and honouring my practice space. Might seem hokey, but it makes a difference. I stood in front of my piano and did a little bow! Then I took my singing bowl and got it tuned up and intoned a couple of ‘Ohms’. And then I just made some vocalizations that were not related to singing at all, but more to simple expression–almost animalistic sounds from deep inside me. And then I turned on the Shruti box and simply vocalized along to it. A revelation! it was so inspiring and fun and didn’t feel like “practice”. Instead it was playful and easy and light–it didn’t matter what kinds of sounds I made, all were welcome and intriguing.

So today, blog readers, if you feel so inclined, give the Shruti box a try as you consider framing your practice more as exploration and play than drudgery. It worked for me as I open myself up again to the ritual of practice. To my special feeling of home.