Many years ago I took voice lessons from a master teacher. He worked with people
who believed they were tone deaf. I was one of those people. My voice seemed flat as the ground I walked on, and I was too embarrassed to sing unless I was in a group large enough to swallow the sound of my voice.
My teacher, robust and powerful, sat opposite me on the floor of his music studio. With full-bodied fingers born to make music he plucked the strings of his tambura going up and down the scale. Then he sounded a note and had me repeat it. At first I couldn’t reproduce the exact sound, but after a few tries and great concentration, I was able to. He told me I had a good voice which was a surprise to me. Once I got the hang of it, whenever I missed a note, he looked straight at me with his burning brown eyes, and asked where I had gone. Then he’d have me try again, and again, until I finally got it.
These few lessons taught me that the problem was not with my voice, but my inability to stay focused and present. Although I was capable of deep concentration in many other areas, the life-long belief that I couldn’t sing disrupted my ability to listen and to replicate what I heard. Frightened that I would get it wrong, I tried to think my way through instead of trusting that if I listened I would be able to repeat the sound.
Even though I don’t plan on giving a recital in Carnegie Hall or anywhere for that matter, I do enjoy singing now for the pure pleasure of it. Most importantly, I no longer consider myself tone deaf. I have developed the ability to concentrate when I’m singing, to listen deeply, and to be present with the sounds. When you are of two minds, neither one can be used to its fullest.
The same is true with writing. When your mind is concentrated on a single thought or image, when you ARE the writing, and not jumping ahead of yourself, or thinking of HOW you are writing, you will write with depth and clarity.
In the initial creation, all that is required is that you put pen to paper and keep your hand moving. Stay with your original thought, rather than allowing the editor to sit on your shoulder telling you not to say that, or how stupid this is, or what makes you think you’re a writer? To sound a clear note, you cannot be of two minds; your mind must be fully present and focused on a single point.
- “His reflection in the mirror … ” Write for 1 0 minutes.
- “Walking through … ” Write for 15 minutes.
- “When I woke up that morning … ” Write for 20 minutes.
- Read these pieces aloud to yourself, listening mindfully, as if someone else had
written them. What did you, the reader, hear that you didn’t hear as you were writing?
CLARA ROSEMARDA M.A. is an evocative writing teacher, poet, memoirist, intuition counselor, and workshop leader. She has been in private practice in Santa Rosa, California for over thirty years where she works with beginning as well as mainstream writers. Clara teaches workshops at Santa Rosa Junior College and internationally. In her private sessions as well as her teaching she helps people connect to and act from their most authentic selves. She was co-creator and coordinator of the popular writers’ program, The Writer’s Sampler, of the Sebastopol Center for the Arts. Her prose and poetry are published in literary journals and anthologies. She is co-author and co-editor of the anthology, STEEPED: In the World of Tea (Interlink Publishing, 2004). Clara has two poetry chapbooks: “Doing Laundry” (a letterpress limited edition, Iota Press, 2013) and “Naked Branches” (WordTemple Press, Small Change Series, 2014).
Note from Marlene: If you have a chance to take a workshop with Clara. . . do it! I did and it was a transformative experience.