Wednesday, November 30, 2011


I've been taking lessons, free of charge, from a young man who's doing graduate studies in Arts Administration, and who is also a musician and dancer. As part of his thesis work, he is pulling together a 200-person choir to create "a river of song" in the park behind Columbia Library, where 100 years ago a river did flow but has been long filled and forgotten.

He's a tall, understated, erudite man, healthy and square-shouldered, handsome, with blue eyes. He speaks in the voice of a poet and sings as if he's the (undiscovered) lead in an opera. I used to sing -- all the time -- until the morning I woke up (twenty years ago) and discovered that the middle register of my voice had vanished. The cause: a drip on a small section of my vocal cords, allergy-related. Antihistamines help only marginally. I can still sing a decent first tenor, and an okay limited-range second soprano, but my alto -- where the heart & soul of my voice resides -- is nowhere to be found.

Campbell -- my teacher -- is absolutely certain that his instruction will bring it back, or release it from its constraints. Singing with him this afternoon in the studio at work, my voice cracking and cutting out, it felt as if all good sounds were trapped somewhere in the back of my head, lodged in a part of my skull: impenetrable bone.

I am less confident of the potential for success.

We're working on relaxing the throat muscles. My homework is a lot like the breathing exercises that one encounters in yoga, and that which I find most difficult in yoga: being still, listening, breathing. Isn't breathing something we do automatically?

Campbell spoke of the necessity & importance of silence -- as necessary as the presence of voice. Then he said:

"Think of your voice as a flame which melts away that which is bad in all people."


At the rate I am not progressing, I fear that evil may well exist on this planet for a long time.

Nonetheless, I have my assignment for the next month while he jets off to NYC to assemble a choir similar to his Columbia Park choir, but on a slightly smaller scale.

Tra la!!


  1. It'll be interesting to see if he's right!

  2. If you can, let me know when the river of song is going to go down... I'd love to come and see/hear it!

  3. Believe that he believes--if he's a good teacher & he has confidence, he's probably right.

  4. the throat is a muscle like any other -- you can exercise it and make it stronger. I think you can recover that range through practice!

  5. I am terrified of singing in public but I love to sing. I use the term sing loosely because I am never in tune.

  6. I'm excited at the thought of you recovering the alto range of your voice, T - the register where 'the heart and soul of (your) voice resides'. . . This is all about singing, yes, but it sounds like a healing process of a different and deep kind, too. The throat is where we hold and experience grief, and anger related to grief. Even though your alto range vanished one morning twenty years ago, I imagine that as you continue to move through - and heal from - the enormity of all that has happened in your life (this past year especially) your voice will return with ever-increasing beauty and resonance. . . I love that you're singing and making music. Music and laughter together = the best healers. (And I do hope you don't mind me saying these things, T. . . ). Much love and tra la las from NZ, Claire xo

  7. Tofu -- I'll certainly keep you informed!

  8. Claire, after reading your comment I went online and did a bunch of research on the throat and grief, and on chakras. Pretty fascinating stuff.

    The larger metaphor here -- the regaining of "voice" -- is what seems to stand out for me.

    We'll see what happens.

    (And of course I don't mind you saying those things, Claire!!)