Posts Tagged ‘Ruthie’s Musings’

I was asked to present Singing Meditation as part of an Interfaith lecture series at Grateful Steps bookstore in Asheville last night. I knew there wouldn’t be a piano. I had no idea who would show up IMG_3578and if any of them would be confident singers. But I set up an altar first — as I always do for Singing Meditation. I always thought I had done it to help the participants. But I found tonight that it had a calming and centering effect on ME. First, because the colors were soothing and pleasing to my eye. Second, dressing the table reminded me of the approach I had taken to Singing Meditation in the past when I had fretted about how many people might attend. My job is to ‘set the table’ — it is up to The Divine who shows up!

Unlike a typical Singing Meditation session, I started with some lecture about Singing Meditation — which I interspersed with teaching of songs. This way at the end of the lecture we already knew some songs in common and we could flow into an abbreviated Singing Meditation session. I brought a small toy piano I have in order to get some pitches, my voice was strong enough to teach a melody line, and I stomped my feet or shook a rattle to keep a beat as wanted.

Although we were a smaller group than I am accustomed to — I made a deliberate choice not to dwell on the fact we weren’t singing in rounds or in harmony. Instead I focused on the beauty of the melodies. And I found the silence between songs to be sweet. When I drew an angel card for a word of inspiration I chose ‘courage.’ It felt like a benediction.

I share this experience with the hope it might enourage you to offer a singing meditation session even if you don’t know who will show up and/or you have other factors that are less than ideal.  Even a small group can result in delicious silence where your heart and soul can be refreshed! May joy fill your heart this day!


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“There are no wrong notes – every sound in the universe lives with all the others.”

“Silence is your friend. You are always playing a duet with the silence around you.”

These are two credos of a fabulous music program that helps unleash the creative musical potential that exists within us all – Music for People (MfP).

In Jazz, improvisation can mean a fairly well-scripted approach to a musical piece. The musicians agree ahead of time on a

Ruthie with her mentor, Ben.

specific song melody they are going to improvise around as well as the key(s). They also define their tempo and meter before they begin. An indication may be given as to who will take a solo and when. Within those parameters, the musicians are free to create and experiment with rhythms and harmonies.

That is NOT what is meant by an MfP improvisation! This is free form improvisation without an already-composed song as a basis for embroidery.

In February 2009 I attended my first weekend of MfP. I was immediately smitten! Here were 40+ people assembled for the sole purpose of spontaneously making sounds and respectfully listening to each other. Best of all, this is done within a non-competitive atmosphere. There is no jockeying for position as ‘first violin’ or ‘featured soloist.’ The culture, as nurtured by David Darling, Julie Weber, and the rest of the staff and graduates, is egalitarian.

Anyone who wants to can simply drop in and attend a weekend whenever it works into their schedule – or you can enroll in the four-year program that teaches you skills in facilitating improvisation. Those with PhDs in music mingle freely with those who have never had a music lesson. Creativity and authenticity are valued and improv skills are playfully taught.

This past weekend my spirit was inspired and refreshed with a MfP retreat at the Stony Point retreat center in Stony Point,

A quiet spot at Stony Point

New York. I encourage you to check out their website. If a long weekend doesn’t fit your schedule at this time they also have CDs available. I listened to Julie Weber’s conversation with David Darling on “The Darling Conversations” 3-CD set while I drove home today. It was nearly as good as being there in person.

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