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The Transcendent Magic of Song

Dear Friend
The Transcendent Magic of Song
With Mad March knocking at the door with wild winds of change and emerging flowers, it's time to spring clean and bring on the magic of song...

Leave Your Biography at the Door... and return to it transformed
To live on a day-to-day basis is insufficient for human beings; we need to transcend, to transport, escape; we need meaning, understanding and explanation; we need to see over-all patterns in our lives - Oliver Sacks.
One of the things I most love about singing is that it opens up a space for transcendence. Whether we are lost in the moment of singing our favourite song in the shower or captivated by magical choral harmonies, singing takes us away from the daily humdrum. A harmonious choir is unified by the agreement that we will allow ourselves to be transported into the magical realm. We return from our singing experience transformed - our hearts beating more regularly, our lungs expanded, our minds cleared and our spirits lifted.

The Magical Realm of Song
The greatest things lie in the realm of the uncomprehended - George Macdonald
Singing in a group is a ritualistic activity - like a sports match or church service - it happens within agreed boundaries of time and space. Anthropologists Van Gennep and Victor Turner defined three phases of rituals. In the first phase we brush off our daily cobwebs - with a warm up - in order to enter the second 'liminal' phase - a space of possibility where we can express ourselves more freely and experience 'communitas' - a deep sense of connection which is different to everyday socialising. This bonding power of song gives even the largest choirs a oxytocin boosted sense of friendliness and warmth. It similarly unites football fans, members of faith groups and even temporarily, soldiers in the trenches in 1914. The final phase allows us integrate and return to our lives feeling refreshed.

Photos: With Catherine Pestano at Croydon Phoenix Parade & Shannon Express Chorus
The Magic of Listening
Choral listening is about listening, a deep listening to each other; it not only changes the singer but the entire audience. It's really about love - Tony Araujo, Artistic Director British Colombia Boys Choir.
For much of my life I've been on a mission to sing and help others sing. This has taught me that singing is 80% listening and that we need to be able to put aside our daily concerns and calm our inner voices in order to hear ourselves and others. Breakdown occurs in both singing and life when the listening field is overrun with our personal chaos. Listening is a healing act of love which builds bridges and harmonises our inner and outer landscapes. It requires setting aside time, space and our precious attention - which in these fast paced, multi-media days is often in several places at once. By bringing ourselves into one place in this one moment with one breath and one song, we are transported and transformed.

The Magic of Letting Go
Last night I lost the world, and gained the universe - C.Joybell.C
In a western world that encourages us to accumulate, grasp, own and achieve, letting go is often seen as weakness or defeat. Yet if we are not able to let go we become heavy, stagnant, unyielding and stiff. Eastern traditions teach the self observation practices which enable us to let go of all the 'stuff' and be in the present moment - such as chanting mantras. To sing is to let go of the frightened self that says 'I can't' or 'My mother told me I couldn't' or 'I'm no good.' To sing is to let go of the relentless whirring of the To-Do List. To sing is to allow our deepest feelings, griefs and longings to be washed away on waves of sound. To sing is to take all that we are and let it fly on wings of harmony. To sing is to let go, soar and to return to life renewed.

Wishing you a madly magical March