Random musings


-Listening to another human being is the most precious gift you can offer, and the most powerful tool we have for change and growth as individuals, families and communities

-Being heard by another human being is among the most precious gifts we can receive: a deeply healing experience that can change a life

-Silence shared with another is among the deepest, most ancient medicine; and Silence is the seed of a miracle that allows us to be in the deepest support possible of another human being in pain, without acting to fade or hide or fix that pain. When in doubt about how to be a friend, we can be silent and offer the profound love song of our silence.

-Sound offers expression where words fail.

-Silence offers expression where sound fails.

-When I sing/sound/speak I am telling my story, and as a living being it is my birthright to share my story. My story is important—and necessary—to share

-Silence brings awareness to the dynamics of daily communication, and awareness leads to evolution and innovation

-Sound is the expression of love, fear, shame, grief, rage, joy, conflict and delight. Without these emotions and experiences there is no music, no art

-Sound is also—along with its friend, silence–the double-threshold to the music that is deeper and older than the music of all conflict

-Certain patterns of music (e.g. mantras, rhythms, the scale Sa-Re-Ga, musical modes) have been given to us—or are waiting to be discovered—to attune and entrain our physical systems in an ongoing process of healing and becoming

-Music transforms all emotion, all experience, into a love song that can fuel our lives

-Listening to music [any genre] can help me to hear my story as told by another and reminds me: even if I am lonely, I am not alone

-Sounding gives me the opportunity to acknowledge, integrate, and express my own shadow safely, without harming myself. or another

-Sounding authentically in a safe environment—be it a group or my bathroom shower—creates a habit of self-awareness and expression, which can become a habit of authentic self-expression in daily communication, which can become a habit of acting and living from the centre and source of my being

-Is there anything that resonates more deeply in our very cells than a deep belly laugh, the sound of a child’s giggle, the keening of honest grief, or a primal scream of rage or fear?

Add your own . . .



“My dear, life is a series of problems that you need to solve. . . and then, we die.  Now go get us some ice cream.”                                                                                                                                            -Maggie Smith as Dowager Lady Grantham, 4th Season of Downton Abbey

If you’re addicted to Downton Abbey—or even if you’re not—you probably know that the venerable Ms. Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess gets the very best zingers in just about every scene. And rightly so.

This one struck me as particularly pithy, not only for it’s ironic humor and dry pragmatism, but because it offers a refreshing perspective that modern New Age sentimentalism sometimes likes to skip over:  that the point isn’t always to get it right, or for things to look or sound exactly like I posted on my me-and-the-universe-co-creatin’-vision-board (yeah, I’ve seen The Secret).

I love this quote because the message is: work with what you have.  When it comes to voice, nothing clips your vocal wings faster than longing to sound “perfect,” or like a certain singer you admire.  And nothing can move you ahead faster than really listening to yourself, accepting your imperfectly perfect voice, and developing what’s there.  In this approach, your quirks actually become the jumping off point for your unique sound, and things that you might think of as weaknesses or mistakes become points of curiousity for creative discovery.

I know of what I speak on this one.  My middle name could be Perfectionist. (Try that one on:  Pamela Perfectionist. *shudder*).

I’m an A+ student that likes to get both the big picture and the details just so, and if there’s a project that needs doing—a website, a blog post, an album, a home improvement—it’s worth doing “right,” is how my inner dialogue usually goes.

As a vocalist, I’m always reaching for more resonance, expanded range, subtler nuance; the most precise and heart-reaching lyric or melody line in a song. That is my job as an artist, and anything less than loving devotion toward that intention is sloppiness on my part.  I commit to always learning.

Commitment to being my best in any given moment is one thing. Expecting my voice to conform to a particular way of sounding, and doing it that way exactly the same every single day—with any deviation perceived as failure—well, that’s another thing entirely.  This edges into perfectionism.

A few symptoms of perfectionism: trying to control and manage, spending a lot of energy hiding yourself or compensating for perceived short-comings, and the self-judgment that never lets you remember that you are in fact good enough.

In the body, that state of being often translates into a fight-or-flight-or-freeze response that does not support effective singing or speaking.  The ability to breathe fully is impacted. Muscles that need to be relaxed tense up, and sometimes tensions become chronic.

Perfectionism has the opposite effect of what the perfectionist might hope for:  it can prevent you from sounding like your most awesome, whole-hearted, full-voiced you.

So, from one perfectionist to another (if you’re reading this I think you’ve been there at some point), here are a few tips I’ve discovered:

1. Notice and Accept

A reframe for the quote, “life is a series of problems” is this: life flows and changes and presents new challenges, and our voices follow that flow. Voices change from day-to-day and across the life cycle.  Women’s voices even fluctuate with their hormonal cycles. Notice it. Accept it.

Your voice is a beautiful expressive metaphor for the story of your life. It can tell you if you’re sad, tired, sick, angry, fearful, joyful, excited, grounded.  And as it tells you these things, it can invite you into the deep compassion for self that is your birthright.  Let it.

2.  Get Curious

When you notice your voice going higher or lower in pitch, sounding resonant or sounding squashed, cracking or getting hoarse, or flowing and strong—ask yourself some curious questions.  Who are you with?  How are you feeling?  What activity are you engaged in?  Are you singing, speaking, working, playing? What is the topic of conversation? What posture are you in? What posture is the other person in? What areas of your body are relaxed, or more active, or tense? What images, pictures, memories come to mind?

You might even write about it in a journal, draw a quick picture that represents it, talk it through with a friend, or sing it out with Free Singing (which we explore in the Body Song VoiceShops).

3. Work It, Baby

a.k.a. “There Are No Wrong Notes” OR “Follow That Creak!”

I am now going to reveal one of my top secret techniques for improvising vocally.  Sometimes, my voice does something unexpected. So, what I do is turn it into something purposeful.  The creak my voice just made, or the note I just hit that doesn’t actually exist in the key I’m singing in?  I follow it.  I dive in and see where it takes me.  I let myself creak some more, or move into the “new” scale I just made up.

Sometimes, it leads to a rich vein of expression, of dark and earthy material.  Sometimes it’s a few notes that take me nowhere in particular and I’m back to the mode I was in before my so-called vocal gaff.  Other times, I follow it into the darkness, hang out there for a while, and then emerge absolutely soaring, from a vocal perspective.  It’s a wonderful adventure that I never would experience if I believed that I had made a mistake or hit a wrong note, and let that shame me.

In singing or speaking, if you creak or crack or gaff, instead of doing a quick throat clear or cough to try to cover it up, or stopping altogether, try this instead: dive in, exaggerate it, make it louder or softer, laugh about it with your conversation partner.  See what happens.


As I’ve noted elsewhere, my voice is a Trickster, imperfectly perfect. Some days, it soars to the heights and resonates to the depths.  Some days it will only do one or the other.  And other days it creaks, cracks, slips and makes a fool out of my attempts at perfect pitch. It will happen.

And here I come back to my original quote.  The Dowager’s words are ultimately optimistic:  the problems are there for us to solve.  Solving them is the process of living.  And we also get to celebrate along the way, to go eat ice cream!

The point is to work creatively with what you have, and to work with the energy of seeming difficulty to craft it into a whole and satisfying experience.  Vocally, all sounds, all emotional energies and stories have a place, and if you notice, accept, get curious, and follow the thread, those energies can become powerful fuel for your life. 

ps We are exploring some of these practices in the Body Song VoiceShops.  There’s one coming up Saturday, March 22, 2014.  To register or more info, contact Pamela.



People sometimes ask me why I do what I do, or how this particular type of voice work came to be.

On the face of it, I choose to do what I do because it’s the most engaging way I’ve discovered to combine my abilities in singing, spoken word, languages, writing and resonant listening with my curiosity in facilitating, wellness, teaching, performance (and making my own schedule)—and somehow help other people in the process.

Digging a little deeper, though, I find the seeds of what I love to do in the wild and wonderful trio of Elizabeth, Diana and Sonya.

Who were these inspirational ladies, you may ask?

In the days before names from Celtic-revival, Sanskrit, and mega-stars came into pop culture to be inflicted on newborns, those were the most exotic names that we—my best friend, my sister, and me—could come up with for our alter egos.

Diana, Sonya and Elizabeth were an uber-modern trio of women. They were entrepreneurs who co-owned a high-end restaurant and club, complete with classy live music. They ran the back end, personally served customers at the front end, and—best of all—they themselves were the song-and-dance act that provided the live entertainment. Kind of like the Andrew Sisters with 1980’s repertoire. They picked the songs, learned them, developed the dance routines and created the costumes (the, er, rather skimpy costumes leading our parents to think we were watching waaayyy too much Solid Gold on TV). Skipping ropes made great microphones, tea sets turned into cocktail mixers, and the latest in high-tech calculators by Canon morphed magically into a cash register, with real receipt books provided by my mom, who would have had a Staples addiction if Staples had existed in our small town at the time.

Hours of a rainy or snowy day would go by unnoticed, as Elizabeth, Diana and Sonya set up, served customers, performed, then cleaned up the place and went home to their alter-ego husbands and babies.

(I did not go on to actually marry “T”, my alter-ego sweetheart, though he lives on in my dreams and memories as a real cutie. But I digress.)

Those lovely women taught me a lot about how time both lengthens and disappears when I am immersed in something I enjoy. Over the years, I’d forgotten the rich imaginary world I’d created with my friends. It was only recently that I remembered, and started connecting the dots about why I enjoyed those timeless afternoons so much, and how they directly relate to the work I do now.

(By the way, those three were also accomplished actors, playwrights, spies and super-heroes, but that’s a post for another day).

The unique elements of my imaginary world as a child–the entrepreneurship, service, collaboration; the musical performance; the lifestyle of blending work and family life with ease—these were the seeds of passion for what I do now. It took a few detours through varied landscapes to get here (and I had to pull out my inner spy/super-hero to fight a few monsters along the way) but the delightful passing of time in play was a direct clue to finding and engaging my most authentic voice as an offering of service.

What did you used to play or imagine as a child? Or what other clues have helped you identify your authentic voice or inspired service? Drop me a line and let me know!