for people who break into song in real life

Author: dancallaway (Page 1 of 21)

How can this be easier?

You know about Clifton StrengthsFinder? It’s an assessment tool that’s a locator of your easy things.

Every time I’ve shaken its Magic 8 Ball, one attribute always features first.

No, (blush), it’s not magnanimity, wisdom, or humility. Thank you, though. I’m humbled.

It’s Input. 🤖

When I was a kid, my version of “You’re not the boss of me” was, “You’re not the TEACHER!” 

Or [tɛɪi-tʃəɹɹɹɹɹ] for an International Phonetic Alphabet transcription of my Surry County tot-twang.

See? I even IPA my hills-n-hollers cradle dialect. Input.

I collect data like it’s my 4th grade rock menagerie, and I’m mystified when my exuberant educational evangelism yields glazed eyes and grocery list contemplation in the listener.

Lordt, I’m remembering one of the first academic classes I taught and the informational firehose I pumped out (via Power Point, of course).

No wonder one of the student reflections stated, “Lectures were boring.” Not to ME! I overworked HARD on those rabbit trails about the Princess Musicals and Dorothy Parker! 

And now we arrive at the jammed junction where Clifton Strength meets Callaway Cluster.

If I can make it harder, I will.

I own the bizarro version of the Staples Easy Button–

–a Rube Goldberg contraption of levers, gears, and pulleys, and when the little ball bearing lands in the cup at the end, a voice exclaims, “That was satisfyingly complex!”

I don’t mind taking one sock down to add to the laundry only to realize I left the songbook on the steps. No worries. I’ll just take that downstairs, too, while I leave the iPad on the kitchen table for a separate trip to the charger. 

Doesn’t frustrate me in the least. 

This week I tormented my soul trying to select an online scheduler that could accept credit cards, send automatic reminders, and julienne sweet potato fries; I knew the wrong software would lead to the imminent demise of everything.

So I toiled and brewed, becoming the person attacked by Tupperware on an infomercial before the low-larynx voiceover intones, “Introducing…💫” 

The irony is not lost: I subject myself to a morass of brain complexity and fantasy flow chart in search of a magical system that promises simplicity. “You just teach and let us do the rest.” 🤯

I knew what I needed to do.

(thanks to a Marie Forleo podcast one time about how to get your head to stop yelling at you.)

I got on the elliptical machine I was super resistant to us buying and has turned out to be a body and brain saver. Thanks, Melissa-Lee. 

After fifteen minutes, a lotta sweat drops, and answering questions from lil Jude about dinosaurs and what’s ewwiptical mean? in ragged two-word fragments, things started to clear up.

I didn’t need the software.

I needed paper and pen.

Complication was my way of getting in my way.

Do you have a thing like that?

A tricky moth-to-flame resistance activity that claims you’re making progress while you know you’re wheel-spinning and slinging mud on your windshield? 

Lemme tell you what my complexity movie montages backed by Avil Lavigne’s 2002 chart-topper do for me.

I bet your own clever machinations will become clearer to you, too.

It protects me from ease.

Why would you wanna be protected from ease? That’s crazy.

Yep. 

Making things hard upholds an early belief I crafted —  I get everything through hard work. (This includes love and acceptance.)

Even miraculously free and un-earnable things like breath (I know how to do it well because I’m a singer) or health (I eat this, and I exercise this way) become star charts. 

I’m a poor vacationer, board game player, and mid-day movie watcher. I’m working on it.

It keeps me out of action and away from the unknown.

When I was in the UK, I never even crossed the Channel.

You know why? I didn’t want to go anywhere I didn’t speak the language, and I woulda been lost in Spain, anyway.

My need to KNOW things and LOOK like I knew was consuming.

And who cared? Ding ding ding — moi. 

It shields me from rejection, being a beginner, and feeling inept.

Offering anything to anybody means they could say no. So, if you don’t offer, they can’t say no. Opening yourself to any kind of response from folks — same.

And when you try something new, even if it’s a new version of something you’ve done for years, you have the just-born fawn stumble going on for a while.

What if we cheered ourselves on like a grandparent claps for their 13-month-old grandbaby standing, stepping, stumbling, and standing again? We’d probably get moving with a lot less self-inflicted cortisol. 

I think I need to look fancy.

On our road trip back from NC, Noah took on a regal identity when he donned the Burger King crown he picked up in Staunton, Virginia. Together with one of Gram’s necklaces he couldn’t resist taking as a souvenir, he knew he was looking special.

When he climbed into the back seat after lunch, he asked, “Daddy, do you think all those people knew I was a king?”

“I’m sure they did, buddy.”

And how is keen sense of audience perception an inheritable trait? 🧬

I’ve added bells and whistles to my business that I don’t need because I think they look impressive. It’s the equivalent of financing a car you can’t afford so that you look like you have more money than you do. 

So, now I’m writing my active client and waiting list down on a super simple couple pages in my bullet journal, and it’s like a life changing magic of complexity release moment. Sparks all kinds of joy not to mention freedom, relief, and as intensely uncomfortable as it is, EASE.

I leave you with this.

If you can remember to ask yourself this question for life AND singing, things can go pretty well:

How can this be easier?

And if there’s no practical way to make something easier, how can you go easier? On you and everybody around you?

I think this is what we have to ask ourselves in 2023. Things aren’s getting easier on their own, so how can you walk through with love and tenderness toward you and the world you’re connected to?

Moving through like that, you’ll share more. And that’s good because I do believe with all my heart that there’s only one you, and folks need to hear the story only you can sing.

Love much,
dan

ps If you want to know more about Clifton StrenghtFinder (or their new rebrand as CliftonStrengths), it’s here.

pps If you ever have presentations to make or talks to give, I recommend any and all of Echo Rivera’s resources.  Her stuff saved me from creating more death by power point. Another terrific resource for teaching and talking is Dr. Patrick Wilson’s talk at MIT. Together we can end Power Point abuse. 

ppps Please do yourself a huge favor and watch this. 🎹💙 This feature from CBS Sunday Morning made my week. It’s just 2 and a half minutes, and your soul will say thank you. There is good and beauty in the world. 

Your trigger triggered my trigger — trigger warning: triggers (with a side of Hangrytown)

The Calla-clan went over the Delaware, Potomac and James rivers and through allll the woodses to Gram’s house in NC.

We piled into the house where the hardware’s still off the bathroom door my younger brother donkey-kicked when we were in fifth grade,

and where the cow pasture behind us used to be the tobacco field where we hurled red clay clumps at each other in our GI Joe simulations. (Many a noggin was knocked by a hidden hunk of quartz.)

The 2-day drive down was good, and our lil nuggets named themselves the Road Rangers.

They did miles better than I did on road trips as a kid — my patience petered by Lake Norman when we took summer trips to Carowinds. Even the promise of the Scooby Doo Roller Coaster couldn’t temper my impatience with my legs sticking to the blue vinyl back seat of the Ford Fairmont station wagon. 

One crucial operational duty you have to manage on road trips with a 3- and 4-year-old: snack management. 

Once glycemic indices fluctuate, you have a brief window to mitigate a detour onto Hangrytown Highway.

(We refer to the the passenger seat occupant on road trips as “The Snack Bitch.”)

We wended our way through the interminable Commonwealth of Virginia, witnessed the potentialities of human behavior when subject to just 2 lanes on the interstate, and the under-fives weren’t the only denizens of Hangrytown occupying the motor. 

I rode snack-gun while Melissa landed us at lunchtime.

Grace Patricia (GPS’s first and middle names) began to exhibit decision fatigue, so I asserted my navigational insight while the boys decided their Magna-Doodles would make great seat-back bludgeons.

An ambulance whizzed by, and motorists executed ill-considered left turns out of the nearby Sheetz.

“Turn right here, and that’ll get you back to the light you need,” I offered.

Melissa proceeded straight.

“Turn right here. Here!”

No turn.

“Now we missed it.”

Why was nobody LISTENING to me????

A knot cinched my growly stomach and slung a lasso up around the back of my tongue.

My guts stomped and silent-screamed — much like my four-year-old recurring nightmare of Darth Vader slinging me over his shoulder and carrying me out the door while my Mom and Dad smiled and waved, “Have a good time :).”

No one was listening to me!

Melissa telescoped her focus on the road, turned right on an actual road and then safely U-turned. It was later than the one I said she should make, and I barked as much.

The car climate shifted from frenetic to stormy.

Melissa’s face looked like I’d just thrown her chocolate peanut butter ice cream cone on the sidewalk. I’d hurt her feelings.

I saw this with my eyes and ascertained it with my brain, and in my four-year-old Darth Vader capture moment, I was incapable of meeting her there.

Empathy was as distant as everything on Interstate 81 — stuck between an 18-wheeler and the Buick Lacrosse with the Texas plates who needed to BACK OFF.

With tears behind her eyes, Melissa said to me, “You’d think after the weeks we’ve had–all the packing, planning, cleaning, wrapping, wrangling — the exhaustion I’m feeling right now — the OVERSTIMULATION. I literally couldn’t hear you with all that was happening.

“I just hoped you’d have a little more understanding with where I am.” 

Shit

I heard her. Her words made sense.

I was still 4, though, and no one freaking listens.

Lunch was a little shut down and sad, and the next several miles down the highway, too. 

I said a couple things about “I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings…” and “If you just understood…”, and when I realized I sounded like the grade-A narcissist the YouTube Psychologist warned us about, I got quiet.

Melissa folded her arms and leaned toward the passenger side window. Get your own snacks, everybody.

Finally, I said, “Sweetie, I’m sorry. I hurt your feelings. My trigger triggered your trigger. I couldn’t pull myself out of my reactivity. I’m working on it.”

We’ve learned after nearly 10 years married that we need a little time to come through our respective feeling swamps. We held hands, closed our mouths for a while, and bought some time pumping the Encanto soundtrack. 

You ever been there?

Something happened, and before you knew it, the floor vanished, you didn’t know which end was up, and something akin to imminent soul death gripped you like monster vines?

It’s happened to me more times than I can count. 

In Melissa’s case, I didn’t SEE her when she needed to be seen, met, and understood. 

For me, I didn’t feel like anybody was listening. 

For both little Melissa and little Dan, very tender wounds got punched.

You got any places in your little-hood when you desperately needed someone just to see you? To listen when you tried to tell a big person something was terribly wrong? 

Makes a lot of sense that folks with deep longings to be seen and heard become singers, right?

Or teachers. 

As you can see from my road trip trigger-sode, I’m working on it.

And there are things that’ve helped me, too.

Here are a few:

Sometimes you’re going to be an asshole. Try as you might, there will be times when you get sucked down the wormhole to your wounded whatever-year-old self.

These moments are necessary.

They take you to the place that needs your compassion and understanding.

They also make you realize most of us are walking around with hurting five-year-old selves in need of a hug. (especially that Buick Lacrosse driver who I still hope gets pulled over and ticketed SOMEwhere. I need justice!)

The work you need to do feels a lot like rest, and it’s scary as hell. When painful reference points leap up and grab you, the first thing we want to do is smush, suppress, DE-press.

Por qué? Because you probably had a precious caregiver who had to smush and suppress, too, so they weren’t able to let you cry on through, scream on through, or experience a full emotional cycle.

You didn’t get to experience the fact that a big feeling comes, your body cries, shakes, or yells, and then it stops.

Most of us stick ourselves in the stage of suffocating the onset of emotion. Makes sense — if your big person couldn’t handle your feels, you learned how to dull them. No one likes feeling rejected or too-much.

Here’s where the rest part comes in. I’ve found that when the stuff comes up, it’s important to let it do it’s thing. Meet it and yourself with the willingness to understand, with the compassion you’d offer a dear friend.

You don’t need to understand. In fact, it may be best just to let your body make some sensations, breathe through them, and then make yourself some tea.

We get into trouble when we try to work it all out with our noggins. There are all kinds of things my brain understands; just because I understand how a bicycle works doesn’t mean I can ride one.

and last — 

Open up to the gift that’s there. The hurts I walk with tenderize me. They’ve worked compassion into my heart, and they’ve opened my ears and my soul. I wouldn’t be the husband, dad, or teacher I am without them. 

I’ve howled, cried, raged, screamed, pounded my fists, and asked plenty of whys, and I’ve had enough time and miracles to look back and see beauty in how the stained bandage threads cross each other and wove quite the picture. 

Learning how to feel things has helped me show my students that they can too. I often say, “It’s just crying.” Not to minimize the experience, but to remind us that crying starts and crying ends. Just like a song.

And I want you to remember that there is in fact only one you, and folks do need to hear the story that only you can sing. May need to cry and laugh through some things as you work on it; that’s just the love in the recipe. The most important ingredient.

love much,
dan

ps I’ve been listening to several interviews with Dr. Gabor Mate recently, and his latest book The Myth of Normal sounds like an essential read for all of us. He points out so many things about the water we’re swimming in, usually unaware that it’s been polluted. I’m wondering more and more what I can do about that. Go search on YouTube.

pps And two of my FAVORITE hearts and thinkers talked to EACH OTHER recently. Brené Brown interviewed Father Richard Rohr at the Center for Action and Contemplation. Here’s Episode One of the two-parter, “On Breathing Underwater, Falling Upward, and Unlearning Certainty.”

ppps You need a lesson? I got some time. Skewl doesn’t kick back in for a couple of weeks, so if you want to sing or work something out, email me back, and we’ll make a time. 🎵 Just hit reply 🙂 

Multipurpose Pepperoni — when Rhode Islanders, dinner plans, and cured meats collide

Happy Holidays! 🌴

We visited Nana and Pappy in Ft. Myers, Florida, this week. 

It’s been Christmas music at the pool, tinsel-clad golf carts, and this alligator sunning himself by a roadside lagoon.

Nope nope noooope. Give me the rogue wild turkey gang roaming the stone walled curves of Ashland, Mass, any day.

One feature of belonging to Melissa’s family — the Italian DNA is profondo. 

This means that as you’re washing down your cinnamon raisin English muffin with your last swigs of coffee, someone’s asking, “What’re we doing for dinner?”

One evening the choice was pizza. Or pizzer. They’re Rhode Islanders. (The [r] rules are complex.)

When the plan was set, Nana’s eyes widened atop big smile, and she skipped back to the pantry. She emerged with a substantial pepperoni sausage she held aloft like a drum major.

“We can use THIS!” she proclaimed. 

Despite the fanfare, homemade pizzer plans met a veto in favor of pickup and paper plates. But Nana had introduced the pepperoni as a symbolic fixture for this family visit.

Jude immediately recognized the cured meat’s bellicose/phallic implications and concocted a yet-to-be-introduced Marvel Universe identity wielding the deli item like a (Dr.) strange cylindrical flesh hammer.

He’d already been taunting his older brother about his toy fire truck’s ladder length. This stuff’s cellular, apparently. Boys, you both have nice fire trucks. 

Later in the week, we hung the piñata Aunty Krissy brought from Mexico in the front yard so the boys could get out some energy and dig for the strewn contents among the St. Augustine grass. 

We searched the garage for the best paper mache thwacking implement — a broom handle? the light bulb changer thingy? the grill brush? Someone please get the grill brush out of Jude’s hands. 

But who knew that the perfect safe and effective piñata demolition device would be a cross-cultural salumi? 

The peppeRONE. 

Loofas, Pez dispensers, and candy canes flew, and the meat log served a surprising purpose.

Then, on our last morning, the boys were bouncing around shenanigizing as usual. Noah slipped on Nana’s cushy carpet, and his lower lip met the corner of her stylish mosaic coffee table. 

There was blood and tears. 🙁

As I doctored Noah’s lip and patted his back, Jude barreled out of the pantry door once again wielding the titanic tube. “Here you go, Noah! This’ll feel you better!”

The two boys laughed and laughed, and it was the best moment — seeing your lil nuggets share a joke and see how one can help the other in his own way.

The pizza topper was soon weaponized again.

All this to say —

You never know when you’ve got a pepperoni just hanging out in your pantry that can 1. spark your imagination, 2. bust open a piñata, and 3. make your bestie laugh when their lip’s bleeding. 

Every tool we have can be used in tons of ways, so when you’re working your way through a hairy situation with your singing or otherwise, that thing you do for your breathing might help you with your belting, and that thing you do with your belting might just help you with your head voice vibrato action.

Try stuff. 

And if you just need a good laugh, take a look at Jude menacing you with a pepperoni in Joy jammies.

Most of all, though, remember, there’s only one you, and folks need to hear the story only you can sing.

Love much,
dan

ps speaking of warfare salami, do you know about Steven Pressfield? Author of The War of Art. Terrific book and helpful tools to recognize and transcend resistance. He did and interesting interview with Tim Ferris recently. I recommend. 

pps I’m sharing regularly on the social channels, so if you’re not already there, come to my party! IG is here. FB is here. Read. Listen. Comment. Send me messages.

The enjoyment of yoooooouuuuu — three words I’ve been saying that’ve been game changey

You know I’m a rooster riser — about 4:58am my brain sings “Good Moooorniiiing,” and promptly delivers me a list of things I should begin working on IMMEDIATELY.

🧠: “You set up the coffee last night, right? Good. That’ll save us some time. You can bang out a few pages of that novel you’ve been meaning to start. before the boys wake up Then you can declutter that cabinet with the lemonade jugs and dehydrator. Oh. You didn’t set up the coffee. This sets us back, but we can pivot. We can always pivot.”

Meanwhile Melissa’s next to me with her normal-person circadian rhythms all like, “What’s going ON over there?”

I sneak out of our room and tiptoe the Mission Impossible route from our door down the stairs to dodge the especially echo-y floorboards that reverb into the boys’ room. (Jude inherited my is-it-morning??? gene.)

Most of the time, the coffee will be in the cup, and I’ll be down to bidess putting out an email fire (when I planned to answer messages only AFTER I did some creative work). Just when I’m like, “Okay enough procrastination station, let’s DO THIS, clickety clickety clickety…..” I hear it.

The drop of the Cookie Monster water cup from the twin bed overhead.

Like the distant Orc drums echoing in Khazad Dum after one of the Hobbits dropped the clanky bucket down the old well in Fellowship of the Ring. 

Here ends the morning quiet.

The boys have a wakeup clock that turns green when it’s time for them to come downstairs in the morning, but as well as they can sometimes read their Sesame Street dictionaries until it’s officially 6am, there’s usually a lost plush toy emergency or urgent dream update that calls me upstairs. 

When I’m dogged about the morning’s task — it MUST be completed!!! — these interruptions irritate me like a “One Lane Ahead” sign at rush hour behind a school bus.

But the other morning I got a lil revelashawn.

I was scrawling down a few thoughts in my bullet journal. (I’ve been doing this write-down-five-dreams exercise in the morning, and it’s simultaneously awesome and gut dredging, so my brain was all wiggle waggle.)

It was jury day at school, and I had all manner of oh-dookey-I-forgot-all-about-that-loose-end thoughts nattering around in my noggin that then avalanched into holidays-then-next-year things, and before I knew it I was a decade down the road, age 55, and I still hadn’t turned in that syllabus to Academic Affairs!

Then I slowed my roll and asked myself a question — what do you want for this holiday season and after?

And I wrote, “I want the days to be enjoyable, loving, and connected.” 

Then I wrote down, “Enjoy. Love. Connect.”

And I’m here to tell you these three words have helped. 

When I’m feeling annoyed, perturbed, or agitated, I say to myself, “Enjoy,”

and after I roll my eyes at myself, I’ll notice,

“this clean, warm water coming out of this faucet is pretty neat.” or

“the way Noah’s pretending to be a pirate karate master and saying ‘hi-yarrrrrr!’ is pretty cute,” or

“this triggered argument I’m having with Melissa right now because I didn’t know she left her phone in the car, and she waited outside the Market Basket at madhouse rush time in 25-degree weather waiting for me to pick her up for 15 minutes is a great example of how we get super cross with each other and say sorry and hug. That’s a big deal, the whole sorry-forgive process.”

I’ve remembered to say these words to myself about 35% of the time, and that percentage of life has been sweeter.

This also happens to be a terrific thing to say to yourself when you sing. 🎵 Enjoy, 💙 love, 🤗 connect.

Try it out in all the places. I can’t always remember it or find something immediately enjoyable, but when I notice something to appreciate, the sweetness factor increases.

And that’s what I want for you, especially in the tricksy month of December. 

And if these three words don’t resonate with you, you can try the three that my student Hammond and I came up with for them with this week: Werk, slay, serve. 🙂 

What I DO know is that I enjoy you, I love writing to you, and it’s a treat to get to connect to you like this.

And remember, there’s only one you, and folks need to hear the story only you can sing,

Love much,
dan

ps This was a terrific interview from the Mel Robbins podcast with Dr. Becky Kennedy about triggers and the body’s memory. I found it tremendously helpful.

pps Last week’s Tell me bout it Tuesday was about ways we can move air out of our face. There’s more than one way to exhale when we sing. That’s here.

ppps Are you watching 1899 on Netflix?? It’s trippy, and my jaw dropped more than a few times. Very well constructed. We’re now watching the creators’ previous show Dark which is also masterfully constructed and so crasssszy. I recommend if you’re into brain bendy thrillers. 

Oh the Places You’ll Toe to Toe — three tiny sentences that’ll help you head off hurt, distance, and misunderstanding … with you

The roughest fights Melissa and I ever slogged through had a three-part theme.

If you go back through our history of heart hurts, thwacked-off communication, and defensive Judo blocks honed in childhood, you’ll see a repeated dysfunction trio:

One — I wouldn’t let my heart be in the environment of Melissa’s painful feelings. (They might’ve cracked the dam holding back my own.)

Two — I tried to punch out problems rather than hugging her hurt.

Three — I advised her how she could just reframe her perception— and then she wouldn’t have to experience all that soul anguish.

Your grimace tells me you already surmised — this three-step method yielded the opposite of connection and trust.

We even named a few landmarks around town where some of our most intense anger erupted. Usually in peaceful nature walky spots. 🌳🦉🤯

After many rounds on the Craytown Carousel, I started noticing my behavior. I even listened to Melissa.

Upon some reflection, help from wise folks, and a little empathy, I imagined how I’d feel if I was in the pit of raw vulnerability and Melissa barreled in clad in emotion armor, swung a mace at all the concern-dragons flying around my heart, and assured me that if I just saw things a little differently, I’d admit that my perception was just an illusion of my own masochistic creativity.

As eager as I may be for an opportunity to dissociate from emotional discomfort, I could see the pain all my problem pummeling (read: control) caused.

I had to change this.

So, I looked at my Three Sure Steps to Reactive Emotional Distance and reverse engineered.

Before I tell you what I learned, may I invite you to think about a thing of yours?

It could be singing. It could be life.

(You may’ve put together that your singing is a trusty compass for your life things, too.)

Let’s say it’s jaw tension.

Or that head jutty thing your teacher’s been telling you about.

Or maybe it’s a habit you sense is thwarting your wellbeing — and you have a standing appointment to beat yourself up about said struggle.

How do you notice that you talk about that thing?

In a lesson or coaching — Oh, it’s my tongue tension. I can’t get rid of it. Oogghh I just need to RELAX.

Do you notice how the cells around the gossiped-about area respond to these pronouncements?

Or how do you react if you’re worked up about something and someone says to you, “Just relax!”?

Not a helpful statement in my experience.

What if you met these things with understanding?

What if you used the reverse-three-steps?

Here you go —


One — Notice your thing. Where does it light up in your body? Just notice it and any kind of sensation that activates around it.

Now, what if you say this?

“I’m here.”

Keep noticing.

Two — Now, what if you say this next?

“I love you.”

I love you, muscle engagement that’s taking over my tongue when I’m trying to sing this note. I love you, neck jut. I love you, thing I’m doing that I wanna stop(?) but can’t(?).

It’s not the first thing you wanna say to something you’d like to banish from your presence, but give it a try. How does it respond?

Three — Now give this a try:

“I understand.”

Or if you don’t understand —

“I want to understand. I’m trying to understand.”

And notice.

What happens to the energy around that thing?

In my experience, the teeth-grit knot I’ve cinched around myself gets looser.

And I see the reason the thing might’ve been there in the first place.

That jaw tension may have kept you alive when you were a kid and some things weren’t safe to let out.

That neck jut may be your body saying “I have to reach out to be heard. I can’t trust that anyone will come to me.”

The two and a half bowls of Lucky Charms at 10:30 pm may just be “If I let this intense energy I feel in my guts come up, I don’t know if there’ll be anyone there to tell me it’s gonna be all right. I’ll give it an inside sugar hug instead.”

When we meet these things with understanding, they can shift.

We did this last Friday in the master’s teaching seminar at BoCo, and folks said terrific things like

“The judgment seems to fall off of it when I look at it this way.”

“It doesn’t feel heavy anymore.”

“It turns into choices, and I have somewhere to go.”

(I have the best job. So lucky.)

I wanna invite you into these three things to say — to those you love and to you you love.

I’m here.

I love you.

I (want to) understand.


Just think how different the world would be if folks said this kind of stuff to each other and to themselves.

The good news is that you and I can be the one.

And when those around you notice that a little love and tenderness is objectively terrific, maybe they’ll wanna give it a go.

As you practice this, remember there’s only one you, and folks need to hear the song only you can sing.

Love much,

Dan

ps This interview with Brene Brown and Bono from Unlocking Us was terrific. 

pps The good word from the socials from me to you this week:

YouTube: Four Ways You’re Making Singing Harder than it Needs to Be (how to breathe in)

or you can also get these through the studio FB Page.

And from the ‘gram, here’s Walk to Work Wednesday, a riff on turning rules into choices. And if you missed the week before, here’s a rarely-heard POV on goals and believing in yourself. Get ready to take the pressure off.

Like, follow, lemme hear from you. 

ppps And watch this space this month for news about monthly NYC workshops starting in January. Chances for you to work with me one on one or in groups — unlocking skill and beauty through your story and your brilliant body who already knows how to do a lot of things. I can’t wait. If you want to get updates about this, just email me

Just pissed in Plymouth — That’s not what a bowling pin’s for. And I want my money back on the New England summah.

We visited Plymouth (the one with the Rock) last summer.

We saw the Mayflower

and the Moo-flower. Here are the boys and Gram.

We learned how the Wampanoag grew food and hollowed canoes.

We found out only rich pilgrims had floors, and Noah stumped one of docents with a 17th Century dental hygiene question. (Though her dialect and character commitment were impressive.)

The boys went deep on colonist cosplay,

and while Noah continued world building, Jude and I set up pins and a leather ball for a bowling game outside. Short-lived. (As was the knock-the-hoop-down-the-lane-with-a-stick game. Though Jude was impressed by my make-the-hula-hoop-come-back-to-you trick.)

Then, I managed a dispute over who would gallop on the one stick-horse to rule them all.

I finally sat my sweaty self down for a rest when a family festooned in LA Dodger gear rolled into the medicinal herb garden.

Two boys belonging to this gaggle picked up the bowling pins and the leather-bound ball.

And played baseball.

They pitched the ball and thwacked line drives that nearly decapitated the lavender shrubs.

Those implements were meant for King James era BOWLING!

Where was their parent????

Oh. There.

Snapping iPhone pics and chortling as if she were about to exclaim, “Now that’s what I call outside-the-bowl thinking!

I gulped water from Jude’s Elmo cup and seethed in the mid-afternoon humidity. (New England was NOT coming through on my 85-degrees-tops summer dreams.)

But, seriously, what was my problem with these kids?

In our own house, we’ve tried to make the rules simple — “It’s okay unless it hurts people or property.”

These Blue-Crew-capped preteens were damaging neither. Not yet, anyway.

But, it felt disrespectful. Someone hand-made those pins and ball so kids could old-times bowl in the designated area, and these knuckle-noggins were rolling in like they owned the reproduction settlement.

Reminded me of bartending in London. I could hear a fellow American two streets away swaggering like the corrupt sheriff in a B-Western.

Oblivious to the culture they were visiting and barking questions like“Hey, where’s the ice and my free refill? You don’t have to tip here, right? That’s cool.”

In both instances — bowling baseball and bothered British bartending — there was a common experience: stress, anxiety, and contraction.

These folks weren’t following my rules. And my rules rest on objective fact and acute observation, of course.

Those are bowling pins in Plymouth, therefore bowl.

This is London. Ice in your drink isn’t a given; you dry your clothes on a rack in the kitchen; and the time I saw the woman on the Tube silently mouthing the recipe for her Yorkshire pudding to the man opposite her gave me the hint to turn down the voice volume in most public spaces.

Ah! People!

Look behind you and hold the door if someone’s coming. If someone holds the door for you, say thank you. If someone lets you in front of them in traffic, throw up a hand. And for God’s sake, stop talking on your phone on the train! No one wants to hear you yammer all the way through Wellesley!

Here’s the ouchy part, though. 

The ways I yell at these clue-free ingrates in my brain? Ever so clandestinely, those are the grumpy royal decrees I hand down to me.

To escape this tyranny, I just wanna find the nearest Mayflower. Only I can’t take a miserable, stormy voyage on a cramped ship away from myself. 

That’s why there’s night cereal, YouTube, and podcasts. 

When it comes to our singing, the rules get real mean. 

That’s not the right sound.

I’m not breathing right. 

My break is terrible.

I’m stuck! I’ll never stop thinking about my technique! 


We stop ourselves from making a sound before we can even let one rough-draft through our body. 

RULES!

Stuff needs to sound a certain way, and we need to make sure it’s gonna sound that way before it leaves our face.

Or else?

Embarrassment, feeling rejected, calling ourselves a failure, believing we’ll never get it. Telling ourselves we won’t gain the skills to express what we want when the adrenaline’s pulsing; therefore, we won’t be able to do the thing we dream about (and don’t reveal to anyone because they’ll think we’re crazy.)

It’s a self-perpetuating game of torture thought pinball.

How about this, though? What if you set the rule page aside?

What if you scrawled out that title with your favorite crayon and wrote, “Choices”?

Hmmmmm.

If I could make any sound here, what kind of sound would I choose?

What kind of breath would I take if I realized, “Well, if that’s love, it comes at much too high a coooooost?”

What if I could try different paths through the tricky pitches?  And let myself fall and get up? 

I wonder if there’s a way to think about technique AND the story in a both-and kind of situation.


When you ask questions like this, things lighten up, and you see places you can step. Before you know it, you’ve walked a few paces, and something that feels like fun and satisfaction bubbles up.

Me likey!

(And if you need specific help, email me for a lesson. I’m end-of-semester busy, but we’ll figure out a time. Just reply and ask.)

So, I invite you to notice this week.

When does your rule committee rear its many heads? Notice how it feels inside when you say things like “I would never….,” “Why would they do that?….” and “What’s WRONG with them?”

If you sit and watch for 9 seconds, you’ll prolly see where you berate you in similar fashion. 

I’m realizing that 45% of my letters to you end up asking, “How are you talking to you?” 

And it’s because it’s that important. The environment you cultivate in your own garden is everything when it comes to what kind of medicinal herbs you grow. 
Just look out for bowling ball line drives. 

But yeah, just notice. Slow your breath. Soften your face. Melt your shoulders. And watch. Who do you like to slam the rules on? And where are you slamming them on yourself?

What if you wrote CHOICES in Sea Green at the top of your page and asked again?

Try it. And as my father-in-law says in his deep, Rhode Island baritone, “Enjoy. God bless.”

Because it’s true. There’s just one you, and folks need to hear the story only you can sing. And you’ll sing it with joy if you give your voice a chance to try a thing or three.

Love much, 
dan

ps I’ve been enjoying these vintage playlists on YouTube — good for your holiday mixes in case Mariah’s invading your brain already. 

pps Did I tell you I’m thankful for you? I am. 💙

ppps Check out the Voice Collective on the IG — two terrific MFAs from the BoCo Cassi and Will laying out terrific tools, tips, and voicey love. 

Who’s it for? — How I got more peace in my head and made the committee my ally. 

Journey with me back to my 20s any time I got an audition appointment. And witness me careen through the 12(?) stages of casting madness.

Stage 1: (212) area code calls. Hello, BroadWAY?

2: What’s the project? When’s it open? Who’s directing? What clever joke will I use for my custom opening night favors?

3: Wait, I have to learn the audition packet.

4: Better call my acting teacher, vocal coach, and numerologist.

5: Wait, look at the sides and the music!

6: Obsess. “What’re the table people looking for?” Examine the character breakdown forty-seven times to unlock the cypher that’ll reveal the perfect acting choices. (The numerologist didn’t come through on this.)

7: Finally, learn the material — enough so that I think that I know it, but not so much that I pour too much heart into it and get disappointed. And not enough to be in-my-body prepared when audition adrenaline kicks in. I can always blame it on self-sabotage.

8: Get to the audition right on time, maybe 90 seconds late depending on subways, humidity, and elevators.

9: Go in, smile, do the thing too quickly, look at my papers too much, and check in for signs of validation from the table folk.

10: Leave. Replay the event. Analyze every comment, question, and yawn for the next three days.

11: Check my phone every seven minutes to see if I missed a call from a (212).

12: The phone rings! It’s another audition. Repeat.

You need a breath? I do.

That’s better.

Last week, I chatted with a grad student who came to Boston from NYC; he was still adjusting to the SLOWER pace in Boston. I said I felt like New York was a neurosis nursery.

Not only were your hangups welcomed, but you could find two or three folks to sit with you at the Renaissance Diner and jib jab about commitment ambivalence for several hours.

The other morning on the train, I saw pieces of the afore-described brain torture show up.

I was batting around a couple book ideas. As I brainstormed, I wrote, “I’m afraid I’ll spin away at these ideas and then have nothing to SHOW for my work.”

Then I wrote down, “Show who?”

Well, I did write “whom,” but I didn’t wanna look like a complete grammar tool.

Isn’t that funny? That expression? Nothing to show for all my hard work.”

Seriously, to whoM are we showing these outcomes?

The 12 steps of tryout crazy you read above — all of those brain-guish exercises rely on imagining that someone’s looking at you. 

Many of us walk around with an imaginary committee opining on our choices, thoughts, and dreams. 

Comprised of a junior high bully, the teacher who said the thing that time, a nemesis, and chaired by a composite Disney villain step-parent, this imaginary crew influences our day to day.

You get so used to them that you act (or don’t) anticipating their reactions.

It’s exhausting.

May I offer a suggestion?

Thank them.

Why did you make up this crew in the first place? 

They probably started as your safety commission–a benevolent team that helped you navigate your early years: this big person likes it when you smile; this big person prefers you stay quiet; whatever you do, don’t tell this big person how you really feel about body piercings.

We become big people with our little people still running the back-end operations. 

So, that’s why we say thank you. 

This committee’s been seated to help us steer clear of all manner of life-threatening banishment. 

Their continued influence does get us all wiggle waggle when our bodies look like adults, though, doesn’t it?

Rather than our vision resting calmly inside us looking out to the world, we jerk the cables around and lock in to selfie stick mode. Then we’re selfie stuck.

So here’s some help —

👃🫁 Breathe. Through your nose. Small inhale, long exhale. About a minute.

🙏 Say, “Thank you, committee-that-I-made-up-to-keep-me-safe.”

🏞 Face the lens outward. 

Repeat as needed.

Then you’ll open-hearted see the outside while you have grace for your inside.

You’ll say things like, “Self, you get to try things out; Self, go ahead feel your feels; Self, it’s cool how you got to show up on the planet with all these other billions of selves.”

It’s a sweet place to be, I’ve found.

Hey, by the way, how’s your singing coming along? Are you enjoying it?

How’re your auditions in this post apocalypse self-tape landscape? (apocalypse in Greek actually means uncovering, and wow have things been uncovered, right?)

If you’ve hit snags, I can help you.

Email me and let me know what’s going on. Let’s talk.

If you’re in NYC or LA and want to meet with a real live human, I can recommend folks.

Or we can always hop on the Zoom and hash it out. Write me and ask me. Hit that reply button. I’m here for you.

Above all, remember that there’s only one you, and folks do indeed need to hear the story only you can sing. 

Love much,

dan

ps Happened upon this Tim Minchin feature on YouTube (You may know him as the composer for MATILDA). He talks about the fame experience as well as the camera-turned-toward-you phenomenon. Interesting journey. 

pps Have you ever read the Dr. Bronner’s soap bottle? I did yesterday, and one of the things encapsulates this dual-vision thing I’m talking about: “If I’m not for me, who am I? Nobody. Yet, if I’m only for me, what am I? Nothing. If not now, when?” He uses a lot more exclamation marks, though.

ppps And remember if you’re struggling with roadblocks vocal, creative, or career path, email me. Your singing can be free, your creativity flowy, and your work satisfying and clear. Tell me what’s going on. I’ll help you.

You smell that? — Places change, aromas too. Make-believe’ll help you sing like true new you.

We got back from an epic NYC sojourn. We’re still in recovery.

Melissa and I went to a memorial service for a NYC mentor of mine.

We shared in a celebration for my college voice teacher and founder of Elon’s musical theatre program, Cathy McNeela. (Daniel Watts and I shared a sung-and-tapped “Anyone Can Whistle.”)

And we pulled off a first reading of the musical I wrote at SongSpace.

The boys adventured in Brooklyn. (Thanks to former student and perpetual badass Parker Jennings.)

I rolled my ankle and executed a full wipe-out schlepping luggage and garbage down the brownstone stairs where we stayed. 

We pretended to be the Statue of Liberty from Red Hook.

We languished in BQE gridlock and dodged the Five Boroughs’ finest drivers while one child had to poop, a dashboard warning light came on, and our AC went all funky.

We made it to a Bronx McDonalds. Phew.

Adrenaline wore off, and my ankle swelled, so Melissa took over the driving in Connecticut.

The other kid had to poop.

I got COVID.

We made it.

Now that you’re caught up, I want to talk to you about smells.

What does your nose expect when you walk in your favorite bookstore?

Your favorite coffee shop?

You got a perfume you’re okay if you never whiff again?

Mowed grass–where does that send you? Wood smoke? Gasoline?

My nose got a little angry at NYC this last go-round.

You see, I got sense memory expectations in the City.

If it’s warm, bring on the Subway grease, sewer wafts, uncollected garbage, sidewalk piss. Fine. I’m ready.

What I can’t adjust my sniffer to, though, is the skunky weed punching every midtown block.

I mean, I work at Berklee, so I can’t walk to the Dunkies on Mass Ave without three involuntary contact highs. Y’all do y’all, seriously.

But, there was something about the doob fumes in NYC that disoriented my olfactory GPS.

I’d already waved bye bye to the extinct shops form my old hood. The cheese store that sold the best coffee beans where the owner’s cat sat in the window is a trendy tapas bar, and the fluff and fold where the owner and I talked about singing is a Japanese fast food spot.

But that thing about smells —

the odor of a school cafeteria can whiz you back to laughs or abject junior high terror; library stacks can make you cozy or constrained.

Notice when you imagine a camp fire — where does that smell memory go in your body? How about sour milk?

What if you were to hum while imagining those smells?

Different kinds of sounds, right?

Lately, I’ve been playing with the ways your body’s built-in smarts affect the sounds you make.

Your body is brilliant.

When you add up who you are, what you believe, and what you’re saying, you have a world and its sound ready to go.

Working this way, students’ faces look like, “Wait, how’d that happen? How’d that sound come out?” 

It’s magical. Vocal technique can’t live if there’s no story. The story makes your sounds breathe.

So, as you’re working, take a sec to ask yourself — Who am I? What’s happening? What am I saying?

A lil experiment for you:🎵 Hum a 5-note scale (sol fa mi re do) while chewing.
🍨 Pretend it’s something delicious — pie and ice cream.
🥬 Then pretend it’s something healthy yet not so tasty — raw kale.
🤢 Then pretend it’s something you don’t enjoy that you’re eating to be polite.

Did your sound change?

Three different stories change your body, therefore, your sound.

One other way to think about it–

💔 You’re Adele asking your ex, “Why don’t you remembeeeer the reason you loved me beeefore?”
👏 You’re Billy Crystal telling your kid, “Great job!”
🦄 You’re Moira Rose warning someone, “Your wig! It’s coming loose!”
❤️‍🔥 You’re Bruce Springsteen saying, “Can’t start a fire without a spark.”

1️⃣ Identity. 2️⃣ What’s happening. 3️⃣ Need to tell somebody.

Who you are, what’s going on, and you gotta say something — you know these things? Then, your singular and unique body-brain can do most of the work on its own.

So, I’ll commit to you — the next time I’m working my way down 8th Avenue through a bracing cloud of second hand skunk, I’ll try this out.

I’ll be Joe Pesci doing his best Robert DeNiro and shout to the haze, “Hey I’m breathin’ here! What’s a guy gotta do to get a good whiff of a burned soft pretzel?”

You can practice your voices, too.

If you’re in NYC, the good news is you can be as loud as you want, and no one will likely hear or care. 

When I fell off those brownstone stairs, cans clattered, my suitcase handle smacked the pavement, and I moaned like a wounded moose. The woman waiting for her Uber 10 feet away didn’t even turn around. See? The world’s your playground.

In the meantime, remember! There’s only one you, and folks DO need to hear the story only you can sing.

Love much,

Dan

ps It’s so good to email you again. I missed you. 

pps I have to report, though, that I witnessed many instances of folks looking out for each other in NYC — people giving up their subway seats, helping carry strollers on stairs, and some terrific exchanges among Crown Heights residents in the discount store — checking on family and such. We’re all doing our best.

⭐️ppps If you’re in or near NYC, I’m starting a monthly thing.⭐️

It’ll be

🎹 1 3-hour class of 7 folks. Story and vocal how-to with an MD and me in one class learning from and supporting each other.
🫶 2 group Zoom check-ins, work on your material, encouragement and love.
🎵 And me on-call for 20-minute trouble shooting to help you with your priority vocal needs.

I wanna provide you something that’ll
🤝 join your story muscles with your technique neurons,
👀 give you a chance to absorb and learn from your cohort and build a support crew
and
✅ prioritize and target what you need vocally

all for less than what you’d invest for 2 lessons with a good voice teacher in the City. ($235/month)

You wanna join me? Email me, and I’ll make sure you know when we start, and you can hear me bitch about weed smoke like an old man in person. 💙

faily dailure — sad trombones, splayed omelettes, and other paths to personal victory

Any control issues I’ve managed to work out via therapy, divine intervention, or cookies remain firmly entrenched in the kitchen. 

Just ask Melissa whose anxiety meter hits red zone whenever she enters a three foot radius while I’m chopping parsley.

My brothers’ romantic partners have reported similar phenomena, so it’s clearly genetic and, therefore, not my fault.

This morning, I was making an omelette in my prized oversized commercial pan from Ocean State Job Lot.

I’d missed the boys’ second breakfast window, and after several skirmishes over who would possess the one T-Rex to rule them all, Jude was belting “I’m huuuungry” on slide-y scales with a very draggy soft palate.

I sang the Daniel Tiger reminder song — “When you wait 🎵, you can play🎵, sing or imagine anything🎵.”

But my glucose-depleted 2-year-old was not feeling the calming tunes.

EEEGGGGSSSS!

Breathe, Daddy, breathe.

The omelette finally set on the bottom, so I hauled the pan over to the sink to execute my best Julia Child skillet flip.

One. Two….

Daddy I’m huuungry

One. Tw…..

Daaadddyyyyyy

One. Two. Three. FLIP!

And somehow, I managed to hurl one third of the wet-on-top omelette out of the pan and splatter it across the countertop and floor.

Daaaddddyyyyy!

Three. Two, One…..🤯

You know that scene in Sweeney Todd when he’s about to slit Judge Turpin’s throat, and Anthony runs in?

I was Sweeney post bleed-block.

Melissa scuttled the boys out of the kitchen, and I sputtered out a different Daniel Tiger song while I wet some paper towels.

For me, parenting points my face straight into the gaping chasm of abject failure:

I lose my shit; I get sarcastic; I expect my 2- and 4-year-old boys to have fully functioning prefrontal cortices.

Mid-fail, I usually hear a low whispery Instagram influencer voice in my mind’s ear: “Your boys need you to help them co-regulate.”

I roll my eyes at the imaginary frenemy and retort, “How’m I sposed to co-regulate anybody when I can’t regulate mySELF?”

Failure and I are on familiar terms:

I’ve snotted and cried through voice lessons, heaved and sobbed in front of class strangers, and yodel-cracked A-flats in front of paying audiences. 

And that’s just the list from the artist zone. I haven’t even enumerated my interpersonal/relational explosions.

But, parenting’s been the daily express train to the end of me. Like, by 8:30am. 

And, being Daddy to these lil nuggets is one of the the great privilege-miracles of my life.

What’s a thing you know (like my control freak DNA :)) you arrived on this planet downloaded to do?

And what’s the thing about your transcendent wiring that presses your nose into failure on the regular?

The thing about it that’s at once divine and sucky is that these failure spots are where the gold is.

For me, parental eye rolls, sarcasm, and impatience point all fingers back to the places where I talk to myself like dookie. 

It also highlights the places where I say no to myself for no good reason.

Because I said so! 

This is creative ideas, projects, the show that needs to get on its feet for a workshop.

So, thank you oversized omelette flip meltdown.

The other healing (or as Jude says, heawing) comes when I say, “Buddy, I lost my patience. I’m working on it. Will you please forgive me?”

Hug. “I love you, Daddy.” 

What if we said that to ourselves, too?

Hey buddy, I’m sorry I grounded you that time and said you couldn’t even sit down and write down a list of songs you might wanna sing for that cabaret. 

And I apologize for the time I wouldn’t even let you audition for that show because I told you you weren’t what they were looking for anyway. Way harsh. 

I think we might be onto a very hea(w)ing practice — the apology to ourselves.

I’ll write the folks at Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and suggest a new life hack jingle.

Yeah, I’ve yet to discover the fame, success, and ice cream path to deep life satisfaction and lasting learning. When I do, you’ll be the first to know which brand of Moose tracks did the trick. 

But until then, just remember there’s only one you, and folks need to hear the story only you can sing.

Much love,

Dan

ps If there were a day of song magic in NYC this summer

(Song Magic: simple ways to be sparkly, noncompete-able you; offensively simple story-technique tools; and a home-cooked meal)

would you be into that? 

If yes, just click this and hit send

pps Have you seen Physical on Apple TV+? It’s so well done. Terrific writing, and an artful deep dive into the art of toxic self-talk. 

Also, my pal Deirdre Friel does terrific work. She and I did a production of Cinderella back in the DAY at Arkansas Rep. She played one of the stepsisters, and she decided the reason she was so miserable was because she suffered from a perpetual cold. She also played piano and harmonized with me for a CD of hymns I recorded for my Papa when he was in his final days and I couldn’t get home. These are the things show folk do together. At any rate, it’s terrific to see friends who work hard and do great work get recognized. 

ppps And if you wanna jump in on some NYC song magic and food, email me back.

What’d I step on? 🐙 Ack! wooop $*@# BLUUURG — I’m okaaaaay

Noah and I explored the bracing waters of Nantucket Sound this week.

We examined seaweed samples, spied horseshoe crabs, and spotted shiny shells saying heeeeey from under the sparkly water.

It was one of those supersaturated perfection moments.

–where the self-conscious part of you wishes there were a photographer so you could prove to you friends, “No, really, this was the perfect New England Beach Day.”

This lil PB and J snacker’ll give you a clue.

Check that posture! He’s always calling out my slump.

While we waded, I was feeling the squishy sand through my toesies and pointing out a sailboat when my heel encountered something that was not seaweed.

Something springy, slimy, and vigorous writhed its way under the arch of my foot as if to say, “Hey! I’m LIVIN’ here!”

I acknowledged its communication with a falsetto WOOOP and a splashy hitch kick.

“Daddy! What’s wrong?” Noah asked.

“I stepped on something!” I explained.

“Daddy, why are we walking out of the water?”

“I need a lil break.”

“Daddy, what did you step on?”

“I don’t know, buddy.”

“What did it look like?”

“I didn’t stay close enough to look.”

As we toweled off on the beach, Noah was trying to work out why I hadn’t paused to observe the offended sea creature.

He repeated, “Daddy, what was that?” and “Daddy, were you scared?”

“Yes, buddy, I was startled. I didn’t know what I’d stepped on.”

I could see brain jigsaws interlock as he added, “Oh, Daddy’s scared of some things,” and “There’s stuff Daddy doesn’t know,” to his file labeled “The Way Things Are.” (Remember that from Babe?)

The ocean is unabsorbably beautiful, reminds you how teeny you are, and hosts all kinds of beings most human feet don’t wanna touch.

What you can’t see can be scawwy.

Like vocal technique.


It’s not straightforward like, “You put your left foot in, “ or “Press these two keys to start ‘Chopsticks.'” 

It’s your whole body asking several muscle groups in your torso to play nice with largely involuntary muscles in and around your throat collaborating with more interdependent functions than you knew existed from your throat to your lips.

Your tongue alone has 8 different muscles.

Craysssy. 

And it’s not like you can just look down and check if you’re doing it right.

The good news, though, is that there are indicators you can rely on, and there are things your body already knows how to do.

You wanna try an experiment and see?

(inspired by a terrific thesis by one of the MFA grads I got to advise. Thanks, Evan Rees.)

Here you go. (May wanna do this alone or on a busy street/train platform where no one will likely hear or care.)

  1. 🐣 Pretend you’re holding a lil baby or a sweet animal, and sing a lullaby or a scale on [u]/oooo.
  2. 🎵 Sing it in different keys, and notice that your voice naturally knows how to soothe this sweet lil being.
  3. 🦹🏻‍♂️ Now pretend that a malevolent person tries to hurt your beebee.
  4. 🗯 Call out, “Hey!”
  5. 🎼🗯 Follow that impulse again, and slide ‘Heeey” on an interval, a fourth or a fifth.

What’d you notice?

Your voice is built-in ready when you’re meeting an unfolding sitch.

Your neurons know how to soothe a scared puppy and how to repel an invader.

This intel is crucial for theatre singers because the circumstances you’re imagining change the shape of your vocal tract.

Now, can you tell me something?

What is your number one vocal/storytelling question right now?

Because if you email me back and ask me, I can help you out. 

I mean it. Hit reply and atst — vibrato, breathing, unmanageable stage farting. I’ve heard it all. 

or

If you could make up a magical class or voice lesson, what problem would it solve for you?

It can be an impossible ask like, “I want my class to earn me a Pulitzer Prize for Journalism.” I mean, I can’t help you with that, but I do wanna know what your perfect class would do for you (or any singing storyteller you care about.)

Email me back and tell me.

And remember most of all, there’s only one you, and folks need to hear the story only you can sing.

Love much,

Dan

ps We’re heading back to regular land life today, so I’ll have some lesson avail. If you wanna sing freer, love what you’re doing, and bring joy to the room, email me back, and we’ll get to work. 

pps Have you watched Joe Papp in Five Acts on PBS yet? I haven’t, but I plan to because all my snobby theayter friends say it’s terrific. 

ppps This was clearly a working vacation since I also shot a series of looks for an upcoming fragrance they’ve asked me to promote. 🙃 They’re still focus-grouping, but I think it’s gonna be called Panic at the Seashore.  

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