Willing Escape.*

[*two word phrase found in Freeing the Natural Voice (K. Linklater).]

I’ve been enjoying the image of a miniature version of myself bouncing on the “trampoline” of my diaphragm flying out of my mouth and over the top of a playground, soaring past a section of trees, and then diving into a mountain of leaves. Not the most traditional way to find freedom in my singing, but certainly an affective one. This pic from lovethispic.com; the non-instagram instagram.

jumping off the swing

The running theme in my teaching this week (and of course my own practice) has been: in order to speak or sing with freedom we have to be willing to actually say something with abandon. Why do my students and I have so much trouble with that?

In truth, we all know why. Because our voice might be criticized, or laughed at. Or it might not live up to our expectations. Or Ann Marie, my teacher, might give me another direction which is obviously a thinly veiled correction (I’m working on it guys, I’m working on it.) Or the age-old reality that someone told me to shut up once and I, scared and hurt, never unlocked the doors again.

The frequency with which this discussion comes up in lessons has me thinking about the other things that don’t generally get a “willing escape”:

-Being honest about how I feel. (And, since I’m a highly sensitive person, I am usually feeling something rather strongly. Which leads to another example: )

-Being emotional in public. I have a theory that a lot of us have actually redefined crying as the attempt not to cry. Actually letting tears flow is a rather foreign (and less active) experience.

-Telling a manager/director/teacher that I have a question. Isn’t that what they’re there for?

-Asking for something I truly need. The scarier version of this is “asking for a favor.” But how else is it going to happen? Why not dive in?

-Saying things like “you’re making me frustrated,” “that just made me day,” “I’m smiling like a goofball at my computer because of your e-mail,” “I don’t like that: I don’t want it in my life,” or “I love you so much I can actually feel my heart skip a beat.” Aren’t those important pieces of information that ought to be communicated?

I’m playing Lizzie in The Rainmaker right now and there’s a certain line that is quite applicable here. (Well, the whole play is applicable here… be honest, trust yourself, know your beauty, but I digress). At one particular moment, Lizzie, who has become the subject of even her own jokes, has been put down in the worst way possible. Then, to top it off, Starbuck says that her name doesn’t stand for anything. Suddenly she responds a phrase that has been aching to fly out of her and over the playground and into a pile of leaves: It stands for me! ME!

How much more we would all understand and support each other if every word out of our mouths was a willing escape of who we are and what we stand for. Maybe we would experience what it’s like to speak with abandon.


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