July 10 – September 11, 2013. $200 for 10 weeks, or $25 drop-in. You don't need to be able to read music! Wednesday evenings from 7-8:30 p.m.

June 21, 2013


One of the reasons the jaw can be tense is because we have set it against the people who have wronged us. Or we are clenching our teeth, trying not to say the thing we feel bitterly to be true, but we know shouldn't be said out loud.

When we go to loosen the jaw, for the first or the hundredth time, we run into the feelings that helped create the tension. They can be bigger than you might think. The jaw can be more resistant to loosening than seems rational.

Letting go of jaw tension often means letting go our ideas about who other people should be, what they should say, how they should act. It's true, we use our jaw muscles all day long, talking and eating, talking and eating. They will probably be tense even on the day we are enlightened masters. The more spiritual work we can do, though, the lighter the burden on our jaws will become.

The more we can trust that our singing is a good gift, to ourselves and the people around us, the easier it will be to open our mouths and let the sound out.

Singing well usually requires forgiving other people. It always requires we soften our relationship with ourselves.

June 20, 2013


Notice what you notice.

There's more going on in our heads than one might think.

It takes a while to wake up to the sensation of sound traveling through the body.

Notice what you notice. Is there a buzzing? a vibrating? a spinning? an I-don't-know-What?

Hum again, and see if it comes back.

It might. And you might also hear, "this is a waste of time!"

Notice what you notice.

Does the inner critic de-rail you? Do you stop singing and go do something else?

Can you notice the inner critic and also the sound you're making? Can you focus so fully on the sound that the critic drifts away?

Spending time with yourself is not a waste of time.

Spending time with ourselves is the only way to learn to sing. Even if you're in a chorus, you're there with you, noticing you singing.

Notice what you notice. And sing some more.

June 17, 2013

Dear Jon

When I was a kid, my dad spent a lot of time in our garden planting bulbs, weeding and picking berries. Sometimes he would carry a little transistor radio with him and listen to a baseball game. 

I had no idea what the announcers were talking about, but I loved how exciting it sounded – I loved hearing the crowd’s cheers bleed through the microphone. I think I must have first heard the voice of Jon Miller as I followed my dad around our garden. Years later, when I turned on KNBR to hear the San Francisco Giants wobble toward the World Series, my heart leapt in a way that I cannot explain. Jon’s voice to me sounds like home. 

If you’ll allow me a little love letter here... Jon, I love the way you pronounce everyone’s name as they would say it themselves. You honor their families, neighborhoods and countries, and you teach the rest of us to do that, too. I love hearing you describe the boats on the bay and whether the wind is whipping through the uniforms. You notice the moonrises. You find something happy to talk about when the Giants are losing. You have a lovely sense of humor and a love of history. I learn so much listening to you call a game that I’d rather be in my kitchen than at the ballpark. 

I say all of this in the context of singing/speaking/being because Jon Miller uses his voice as a singer does – it’s loose and free, ready to do whatever the game needs it to next. I’m sure it’s demanding work, and he makes it sound effortless and fun. It's music to my ears. I would love to talk with him about it sometime. 

Re: baseball and music, last year I got to hear Martin Ramey do their best with The Star-Spangled Banner. It was beautiful. I'm so glad someone put it on youtube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jshu2-hnt0 

Can you tell I've been playing the violin more than writing the last few days? 

June 14, 2013


Today, a quote from my teacher, mentor, colleague and friend, Dr. Bryan Baker: 

“The goal is not to give a perfect performance, because that is impossible. The goal is to practice as perfectly as possible, and that makes an excellent performance more likely.”

For me, this means that I should practice calmly, and with my emotions in full view. When I can sing or play alongside (not in spite of) my grief, my joy, my love, my longing, with composure in private, it's more likely that I can be that honest in front of an audience.

Which leads me to another quote, from another teacher, Donna Davis:

"Acting is about telling the truth."
And singing is about being naked.

There is so much more to say here. Coming soon.