When Noah was 1, we took a trip to see his Uncle Rob in Albany.

Here’s little collage from that trip.

We were playing on the living room floor one day, and we opened the front door for some sunshine. I noticed the glass storm door wasn’t fastened all the way, and a gentle gut impulse said, “might be a good idea to close that.

My brain countered, “I’m sure it’s fine. Besides, that would require you lift your ENTIRE person off of this soft carpet.”

Two minutes later, Noah decided to get some vitamin D near the door and leaned against the glass. Poor bug didn’t expect the door to MOVE, and before I could catch him, he was nose-down on the front step.

I felt terrible for not acting on that simple prompt just to click the door latch.

I can’t tell you how many times my guts have sent up a warning flare that I ignored. And every time, I could track back to the moment when the gentle nudge bubbled up followed by the immediate rationalization not to act on it.

Scientists have been learning all kinds of mind-blowing things about our gut-brain, the enteric nervous system.

And you’ve got your own list of gut-negation palm-to-forehead moments. While you don’t have to understand all the science, you and I both know all kinds of information comes from the most surprising corners of our bodies.

This is terrific news for theatre singers.

Here’s why.

When you know your gut has truth to tell, you can turn up your receiver volume when you craft a song.

You understand that your body can teach you to make any sound.

And it’s silly easy. Here’s how you do it.

Take a phrase from your song. Let’s use “My Funny Valentine” by Rodgers and Hart.

We’ll use the lyric, “Yet, you’re my favorite work of art.”

Step 1: Just say the lyric.

Like you’re a robot. Let the meaning and the image occur to you.

I saw a marble statue and remembered my voice teacher Cathy sang this at a wedding many years ago.

And then I remembered a joke that says, “How many cabaret singers does it take to sing ‘My Funny Valentine’? Apparently, all of them.” 

See? all kinds of stuff can generate from one phrase. “Oh the tricks your mind can play.”

Step 2: Say it again.

“Yet, you’re my favorite work of art.” And let more images come. Open your heart to your personal connection to the images.

Now I think about the times I look over at Melissa in the kitchen when we’re in the trenches, and she just looks beautiful. It’s usually when she declares she’s in the depths of frumptastic, but there’ll be a smile line on her face or a little sarcastic aside she’ll say, and I’m grateful we get to share our life.

On another day, something else might come up. Biscuits. Or the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Notice these images may or may not be logically related to the lyric.

Step 3: Notice where your body lights up when you say the lyric and see the things.

You’ll feel emotional energy well up somewhere. It’s often subtle, so tune in. Dial your attention to where your body experiences “you’re my favorite work of art.”

Right now, I’m cozy in my solar plexus, and my throat gets an excited twinge.

Step 4: Now just witness that place with the energy, and sing the phrase while you look at it.

You’ll get key information about your personal relationship to the lyric, and you’ll notice how your body has a clear opinion on how to sound that phrase.

Your head brain will be a little frustrated, too, because the knowledge lives deeper down, and it can’t put it in a spreadsheet.

As you do this work, the phrases become part of you, so when you sing them, they’re arising from images emanating from your own psyche.

And here’s the secret sauce to this whole thing.

You have to open yourself to all the crazy dream-scapey things your subconscious mind tosses up. Just like in life.

You may say, “Yet, you’re my favorite work of art,” and you remember your dad telling you to stop using the front counter railings at the Mt. Airy Burger King as parallel bars when you were in 3rd grade. Brains are like that.

Sometimes you feel blindsided, and you can handle it. You’re a courageous storyteller, and you chose to stand on stages and tell the truth.

And guess what — when you open yourself up to that kind of input rather than trying to traffic-direct every image you meticulously crafted in your homework, you let yourself be a human.

Your brain recognizes that you’re humaning, and you can relax and let the story flow the way it wants to that time. It’ll be different the next.

And who knows — maybe you’ll clear up your gut-brain highway so much, you’ll readily respond when your wise body tells you to close the storm door all the way.

But your consciousness well is going to offer up buckets overflowing with images singular to you, because after all — there is only one you, and folks need to hear the story only you can sing.

Love much,