Thursday, November 10, 2016


I've walked out in the middle of two musical events in the last month because of irritating patter by the performers, even though leaving one of them meant that I would miss more music by a favorite singer/songwriter.

I happened to attend both events with a friend who doesn't know a lot about music, other than what she likes, but knows a lot about theatre. (Her niece is a well-known playwright and her daughter was a theatre major.) In one case, I said, "I can't take any more of this." In the other case, my friend decided when she couldn't listen to more "babbling on and on."

Some patter is good. Your audience wants to feel they know you, so a personal line or two? Great.

Some patter is desirable, even useful. I coached a duo on a song for several weeks before I learned they'd written it in Colorado, not in the Northeast where they were performing. If they'd told me Colorado in the beginning, I would have heard (and coached) the song much differently. When Dan Dockery tells the story that inspired his "Streets of Gold," I hear much more in the song.

But why would I want to hear a singer/songwriter tell me, "I'm lazy?" (He really did say that.)  Unless I'm an idiot, when he finally stops talking and begins to sing, won't I be thinking that the song can't be that good because he was too lazy to spend time on it? Would he walk into a job interview and announce to the person behind the desk that he was lazy?

Why would I want another singer/songwriter to announce that she couldn't remember the lyrics, and then balance her smart phone on her knee so she could remember them? Am I likely to think her songs will be memorable to me? Actually, I do remember one line because she cribbed it from Joni Mitchell.

Then there was a guitar-playing singer/songwriter who announced up front that he was neither a guitarist nor a singer.

A lead singer who told insider jokes (I'm guessing they were jokes) to members of the audience he knew, leaving others in the audience feeling somehow deficient because they didn't get the joke anymore than I did. After we felt left out of the patter, how was the band going to bring us into the music?

Bottom line: Two members of the audience left musical events early, not because the music wasn't good, but because the patter didn't allow us to appreciate the music.

Creative Learning

I recently attended a series of  5 TEDx lectures with a friend. The next day, I realized that I remembered every point on of the lecturers had made in his allotted 20 minutes, even though I had not taken notes.  I checked with my friend, who is only peripherally interested in public speaking, and she, too, remembered what he'd said.

Strangely, I thought, neither of us had a strong visual memory of what the man looked like, what he wore, how he moved. We had the same response to another of the lecturers—we didn't remember him, we remembered his general message.

The purpose of most lectures is to provide information, information that we will remember and think about. Why was one of those 5 speakers so successful that I still can almost quote his speech?

Granted, he owns a business that requires presentations on a regular basis. But what principles had he learned in the process of creating a successful international company?

He began with a "hook," a $50 billion mistake that took 10 years of his life. He had our attention right away.

He next mentioned his state of despondency as he tried to find a new path. An emotion that everyone in his audience could relate to, a state that seems to be necessary before any creative breakthrough. Now we were with him, ready to follow his thinking.

Then a bit of history about his field—when and why the $50 billion mistake, which had seemed progressive at the time, had its origins. Although I was familiar with that history, he added a perspective that had never occurred to me.

His first slides gave us visual images of the "old way" of thinking about the problem, and then the "new way." Without printed labels, without any horrible power points. We were free to respond emotionally, and to agree with him that his new way was the right one.

His last point was about change—When we change one aspect of a problem, we create the necessity of change in every process connected to it. That point reminded my friend of a change she had made in the same system our lecturer was talking about.

I think that, if we were young enough, both of us would have applied this week for a job in his company.

I began writing this post with the question: Why wast the lecture memorable, while the speaker was not? I thought the answer was: Because he focused completely on his message and not himself.

Then I realized that every one of the arguments I'd been making to support that answer involved our responses as audience members. So perhaps the answer to my question was: The speaker thought of himself as the conduit between his message and his audience.

Then I looked, belatedly, at the title of the lecture—"Designing for Learning in the Creative Age"—and realized that the audience had been taken through the creative process itself in 20 minutes.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


I listened to an NPR link this morning that my son Chris sent me. 47 minutes of talk by police officers, sociologists, and the like. Both Chris and I had to leave the broadcast/podcast during the segment with Michael Dyson, but his words that stuck with me have been "We can't look at what's happening today without looking at history."

For some reason, I was reminded of a sweet man I had known a few decades ago. He was a retired lieutenant from the Newark,NJ, police department who had served there during the racial riots of the 60s. His solution to the problems that existed then was "ownership." If the disenfranchised owned their own homes, he thought, attitudes would change.

The lack of a sense of ownership holds all of us back. I fight this deficit, this barrier, every day in my teaching.

We must own our voices. Not only our singing voices, which we too often think of as "gifts" bestowed on a talented few, rather than an inherent ability that we all share. But also our speaking voices, which we learn to use by imitation and which, therefore,  seldom represent the unique persons we are. Add on all those years in classrooms in which we were told to be silent, the admonitions for being too loud, for speaking out of turn, and it's a wonder that any of us arrive at adulthood with any sense that we have a right to use our voices.

If we don't own our voices, how can we possibly own our ideas? Our thoughts? Our beliefs? Particularly, when our unique experiences don't conform with what we've been taught? I remember the shock and a feeling akin to terror the first time I read in a scholarly book a statement that I knew to be false. I no longer remember the name of the book, or the name of the Mozart expert who wrote it, or which aria he was writing about. I do remember that he claimed that Mozart had written an unusual (and supposedly difficult) interval in that aria because he hated his sister-in-law, who would be singing it. Nonsense. Mozart used that sort of wide interval in several arias—probably because he liked the effect.

What enormous freedom that discovery eventually gave me. The freedom, and the right, to question my own beliefs, as well as those of the experts. And to tell my students that they have the right to voice their own experiences, their own ideas.

And to claim the space in which they speak or sing. Here's one of the wonderful paradoxes of life. If we don't own the space in which we're performing, no one in the audience will believe us. We will merely be figures on a stage mouthing words. But when we claim the space, we allow everyone in the audience to own the stage, to claim for themselves, if they wish, what we're saying or singing. All of us are enriched by owning the same space.


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Being sincere

 Over a week ago an op-ed piece appeared in The New York Times. I didn't clip and save it because it seemed so wrong-headed. But It bothered my son Tim, the adman, enough to bring it up in a phone call. It still bothers me.

The author was arguing against the advice to "be yourself," and against being "authentic." He ended with the advice to be "sincere." Neither Tim nor I could figure out the distinction being made. "Sincere" comes from the Latin, meaning pure, unadulterated, and has come to mean an expression of genuine feeling.

All well and good, if the author's intent was for us to go inside ourselves in search of our genuine feelings. But we seldom experience a pure feeling. By the time we're an adolescent, our response to any sensory experience is a blend of emotions based on our unique biography. My own internal response to Orlando and presidential politics is a mixture of fear, anger, and helplessness that brings back memories of a brutal childhood. No pure, unadulterated feelings there.

And it's horrible advice when applied to any external expression of our feelings. Not really much different from "be yourself." We are many selves. We are, hopefully, not the same self with a parent as with a lover, or the same self with our children as with our boss. We learn subconsciously which self goes to work, which self rides the subway to work, which self meets a friend for lunch.

Yes, when we're working or thinking creatively, we want to be as sincere to ourselves as possible. But when we present our work or our thoughts to any audience, whether one person or many, we can't do so effectively without considering that audience.

My children were 2, 5, and 7 when Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated. We were living in Manhattan at the time; the older two were in public school on the fringes of Harlem. How to prepare them for school the next day? Certainly not with my own feelings—I can still hear the tolling of the Riverside Church carillon and the sirens screaming past up Broadway—but for what they might expect that their classmates were feeling.

Sincerely yours,


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

When Enough is Enough

Saturday I was playing a blind grandmother in a short film, "Sightseeing," being filmed by The Magic Group. Evan, the cinematographer argued, many times, against "exposition."

Writers are often told to "Show, not tell"—a related aphorism—but I'd never thought of it applying to film, which is all about showing.

Here's the plot: Grandson is going to Cannes. Grandmother is giving him advice, by telephone, about the places to see, how to spend his time, all sorts of grandmotherly advice.  Grandmother is only present in voice-over until the last scene, in which grandson returns from France with a gift—an album of 3-D photographs of the places she remembers, ending with one of the beach where she met his grandfather, a French painter now deceased.

The audience doesn't know until that last scene that the grandmother is blind. Here's where the exposition arguments began. They filmed the grandson outside my apartment, ringing the doorbell, me making my slow, blind way to the door. "That's exposition," Evan said. "Do we need that? How does that emotionally touch the audience?"

Okay, assuming that grandson is familiar with my home, they filmed a sequence in which grandson opens the door, calls out, I go to meet him, he guides me toward a chair and pulls up a chair beside me. "That's exposition," Evan said. "Do we need that? How does that emotionally touch the audience?"

All of the many tries at this scene involved, of course, lighting, sound, camera adjustments, and, if grandson was to be shown coming through the door, waiting for the right light outside. And we were improvising the dialogue.

We ended up with no doorbell, no meet-and-greet, but with grandson in a chair next to me,  saying, "I brought you something," and placing the photo album in my lap. Exactly when they show my face with what I call the "cataract sunglasses," the dark glasses I was given after cataract operations, will be a matter of editing. A "reveal" that should produce the desired emotional effect. And now the title has a double meaning.

What Evan was arguing for all along was editing. "Do we need that?" I'm a fan of both "Master Chef" and "Project Runway," and often hear the judges on both shows telling the chefs and designers to edit their work.

When I was writing my first book, "Clues to American Dance," I spent an enormous amount of time researching, trying to understand American Indian dance, and then trying to translate that understanding into words. I was explaining my troubles to a writing friend, who asked, "How many pages are you giving to Indian dance?" I began to laugh as I said, "Four pages with illustrations." He didn't need to say, bud did, "You need to learn when enough is enough."


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Go to Zero

Last week I went to Crafted: Stories over Coffee at Coffee Park Arts. What an amazing evening. Part way through, I thought, "I feel like I'm in church." Half an hour later Lynn Rhoades spoke those very words aloud.

Why? Because the performances were coming directly from the soul, and speaking directly to our souls.

Danny Dockery's song, "Kiss Me like You Don't Know Me," prompted Bob Moyer, the MC, to say, "You're talking about everyone's life in that song." The words can seem trite written here, but Danny was singing from a lost love. I had just lost a long-ago love, and was healed by the realization that I was not alone. Everyone in the room had lost a love, and Danny was singing his loss on our behalf.

Willie Holmes talked about the need to "go to zero" when he was learning to perform. That he had to give up all his preconceived notions about other performers that were successful and popular. He had to begin at zero, with who he was because of his singular experience of life.

Tommy Priest, who had organized the event, said he didn't want to use the word "perform" for what we'd just experienced. "You were engaging us, not performing for us."

I used to call what I teach "Performance," until performance became an academic discipline and went in an entirely different direction. For want of a better term, I now have "Stage Presence" on my business cards. "Presence" is the key word. Being fully present is the only way we can engage with others, whether on stage or off.


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Creative Spirit

I gave a DEAC talk,"We Can all Sing," at the Wake Forest University "Aging Re-Imagined" Symposium Friday and learned a few new things about public speaking in the process.

Writing vs. Speaking
I wrote a condensation of my talk when I applied to give the talk. After I learned that I'd been accepted, I kept writing. And writing. But stopped about 2 weeks before my talk because I realized that, when I practiced, I was trying to remember those lovely phrases I'd used in my writing. They were too formal, not the conversational style I wanted.  I also realized that if I kept forgetting one point or another, then some part of me was telling me to leave it out.

When we write we have to choose words that convey our meaning without our physical presence, our body language and tone of voice. And then there are all those grammar rules that have become second nature when we write, but exist only to help the reader and sound stilted when we use them in conversation. Or when we write dialog, for that matter.

When I coach singer/songwriters, we discuss "patter" at some point—the talking between songs that is often part of that type of performance. We talk about how much and what they want to reveal about their personal lives, and how much and what their audiences want to know.

My writing critique group kept telling me I had to include myself and my achievements during the talk. My army son told me that he often hears that after one of his presentations has gone well—"Why didn't you say anything about your expertise, your background?" I tried, up until midnight the night before my talk. I practiced inserting an anecdote about myself here, or another there. Even one about my adopted grandchildren. Nothing worked. So, again, I realized that references to myself was not the direction I wanted to go at all. That's not who I am.

It's taken me a couple of days to recognize that my personal style of speaking involves a lot of facial expression, a lot of body movement, and that's what conveys who I am. During the talk itself, I felt my hips wriggle when I described the metamorphosis of a singer. Heard myself saying, "Phish," with a wave of my hand when I dismissed a common assumption about singing. I teared up during my last anecdote. I'd never practiced any of this. They were a complete surprise. Which leads me to

Going with the Flow
For a couple of days after the talk, I worried that I couldn't remember much of what I'd said (and of course I no longer had a written record of what I intended to say). My army son says the same thing happens to him after a good presentation. I've studied and taught Flow for decades, but I've never considered that not remembering the details of a Flow experience may be one of its characteristics. The overall experience, yes, but only a few moments here and there.

My central theme was the creative spirit, a subject that I'm passionate about. I had decided against speculating that perhaps the creative spirit could be called the soul. Not for that audience, I thought. Yet I heard it come out of my mouth, and felt no pushback in response. I hadn't expected laughter, but heard it often from the audience. Even heard a compassionate groan at one point. Meredith Holladay told me afterwards that she cried twice during my talk. None of these affects had been intentional on my part.

One statement I made that I do remember is that I believe the creative spirit is secondary only to the drive to survive. Intentions, of which I had many, are mental concepts. The creative spirit, however, uses all of us—body, emotions, and mind. When we allow the creative spirit to take over, to override our intentions, as I evidently did at many points during the process, then we're in Flow.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Believing with your Body

Although opposed, on principle, to the filming of theatre productions (they're 2 different media, with different methods and goals), I nevertheless went to see the filmed  Donmar Warehouse production of Coriolanus last week. And left at intermission.

But I did understand a little better 2 odd idiosyncrasies of mine. I fall asleep when I don't believe the actors. It's a strange kind of falling asleep. No drowsiness, no trying to stay awake, but instantaneous sleep. One moment I'm there, the next moment I'm gone.

Had it happen when I was a juror several months ago. Bailiff had to come over and wake me up. Embarrassing, and potential legal problem, so I have to give up jury duty, which I do love. In that instance, I fell asleep because the witness was lying.

I don't know what deep-seated past trauma causes this "I'm outta here" reaction, but it began a quarter-century ago during a performance of a rock opera. How could I fall asleep with a rock band amplified to the nth degree? I had no idea then.

But I had time to think about the why during my moments of wakefulness last week, and  to notice that I woke up any time 1 of the characters spoke, and then I'd be back in la-la land. Not that there wasn't a lot of yelling going on, mind you.

And to think about why I couldn't hear what some of the actors were saying.  Others in the audience were laughing at lines I hadn't heard. What was that about?

My hearing is very good. I make a living listening to students. But last week I misheard a student no more than 3 feet away from me. I thought she was singing "touching," which made no sense. She thought she was singing "ca-ching."

Both issues have to do with the use of the body. If an actor doesn't believe what they're saying with their bodies, not just their minds, I don't believe them any more than I believe a lying witness in a trial. The Donmar players were being marvelously athletic with their bodies, but only only 1 of them believed his lines all the way down his spine.

Shakespearean lines can be difficult for an actor—how to distinguish between the poetry lines and the prose lines, for example. And I did admire some of the actors' technical delivery. In between my naps. But I'm likely not to hear correctly what they're saying if they're not emotionally believing the lines, and emotion involves the body.

Decades ago, I had a high school student who was unable, or didn't want, to feel the emotion of the words she was singing in her body. Nothing I tried worked. Until I asked her to focus on the music instead of the words. That freed her to love the music, quite passionately. I could say, "You didn't love that A;" she could try the phrase again, loving the A, and the word she was singing became believable.

She went on to an international career, and I went on to use that method with other students who were afraid to access their emotions with words, and felt safer feeling the emotion in the more abstract music.

Our emotions are complex physical reactions to sensory perceptions. These reactions involve the muscles, nervous systems, the entire body. Closing down any of the physical sensations throughout the body won't make the emotions go away. But I'll fall asleep.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

What Is Art?

I wrote a column for the Community Arts Cafe online newsletter with this same title. Then I used the example of the Rocky statue that was being moved to its present location at the top of the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps. A huge furor in Philly papers at the time. "This is not art." in the letters-to-the-editor. "But people like it, so it is art," answered other letters. My conclusion at the time was that intent of the artist determined what art was. The Rocky statue was originally constructed for commercial reasons, to promote the movie. Most of the works inside the Museum were created because of an artist's vision, or belief. Today I would probably add that the creator's intent for the audience's experience also matters.

Saturday my friend Sheila and I went to an experimental theatre event at an arts festival. We left somewhere in the middle because Sheila was feeling ill (and wouldn't recover for 5 hours). As soon as we were out the door, she asked, "Is that art?" The intent of the playwright, as explained in the program, was to understand the character of a child molester. As explained to a newspaper interviewer, her intent was therapeutic, that as a victim of child abuse, she had been healed by the process.

What we experienced as audience members was a woman portraying an uncle describing a pleasurable incident of sexually fondling his 7-year-old nephew. We left as the uncle was telling us about the boy's moans of pleasure.

Sheila became ill, partly because there were children in the audience, partly because of the destructive energy she was feeling from the stage.

I became angry because the playwright hadn't done her research, and was putting misinformation on the stage. I was for 10 years co-founder and contributing editor for a newsletter for abuse survivors, worked closely with an Asst. DA in Philadelphia on the issues, and had been asked by a therapist to assist her with a survivors support group. I knew that the playwright's characterization of both the uncle and nephew could not have been more incorrect.

Can the arts be therapeutic? Absolutely. Because so many of my voice students reported the healing effect of singing, I considered getting a music therapy degree. Then decided, No. My intent wasn't therapy. My intent was leading people into making music.

What we saw on Saturday wasn't art; it was self-therapy.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Late-Life Creativity

Martin S. Lindauer wrote in the preface to his book, Aging, Creativity, and Art: A Positive Perspective on Late-Life Development, that he looked in the mirror on his 40th birthday and thought that his productive life was over. He believed, because of everything he had read as a student, and later as a professor of psychology, that "the best predictor of adult creativity, according to a great deal of scientific evidence, is youthful precocity." If he hadn't achieved anything he considered worthwhile by 40, what was the point of trying?

But he took an art class in his 50s. Unhappy with what he'd produced in one of the classes, his teacher told him that there was always tomorrow. A platitude, to be sure, but it led him to research and gather data about late-life creativity. And to prove that the "experts" he'd been reading all those years were wrong.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

I Am

Anne Civitano and I went to the Delta Arts Center Friday night to see the Biggers exhibit and Nathan Ross Freeman's Authoring Action. I go to see Nathan's teenage authors whenever I can and always marvel at their high  level of performance.

Friday night was a bit different. 4 authors who had chosen one of the paintings to study, and then written lyrical essays or poetry that applied what they found there to their own lives in contemporary society.

Each performer began by saying, "I AM . . ., in a voice that resonated throughout the gallery. We in the audience were so stunned by the passion in the first girl's piece that we didn't know whether to applaud. But with each performer the applause grew longer and louder.

We heard some great ideas, some great phrases, but what Anne and I talked about on our way home were the "I AMs." We think of the teenage years as a troubled search for identity—wanting to fit in, trying to find where we belong. And we had just seen and heard 4 young people who knew who they were, who believed in themselves and in what they had to say. Believed in their right to be and to say. Believed passionately.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

What Is Creativity? - 32

A few decades ago, I had a voice student who had a Ph.D. in electrical engineering and worked at RCA Labs (back when that company existed) on the high resolution camera that now allows us to see the stitching on a baseball thrown at some huge mph. A most rational man, he had developed a logical plan for creative thought. Before he went to bed, he thought about the problem he was facing at work. The next morning, while shaving, he consciously opened his mind to any wild thought that passed through it. That was often - not always - the solution to his problem.

My morning routine isn't intended to solve problems in my writing - I often get those answers right after I've quit writing for the day - it's just a routine required by old age. The thyroid pill 1/2 hour before breakfast; hot compresses and drops for my aging eyes; a few sips of last night's cold coffee to just get me going. But during that half hour, I often get wild ideas. And I know if I don't do something about them immediately, I'll later dismiss them as stupid.

I had one of those ideas Sunday morning. Last month I had contacted Sarah to ask if I could use her name and age to illustrate a point in an application I was writing. She did give me permission, but said she now had Parkinson's and had just been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Then early this month I met Christina Soriano, who teaches a dance class for those with Parkinson's and wants to add Alzheimer's patients. Loved her approach because she's able to counteract the smallness in steps, personhood, and voice that is so often a Parkinson's patient's response to the loss of balance. I emailed Sarah about this, wondering if there might not be such a program near her in Philadelphia.

Sarah replied that she could no longer drive. Of course, stupid me. I replied that I'd ask Christina's advice soon, but knew she was going through a particularly busy time right now. Then Sunday morning, with the hot compresses, I remembered that Kristina (I know, confusing, but this other friend's name is with a K), a friend who lives near Sarah, is a massage therapist who used to benefit from lots of different dance therapies. Then I remembered that I'd heard or read the day before that this particular Parkinson's dance program had originated at the Mark Morris studios. And I knew, from research for my dance book years ago, that he often took non-dancers into his troupe. Then I remembered that Christina (with a C) had said she had studied or interned at Mark Morris.

Bingo! I emailed Kristina (with a K), subject "A Wild Idea", with the above information, thinking she was close enough to NY to look into possible training at Mark Morris. The idea seemed so preposterous that I didn't look up the proper website for her, as I would ordinarily do.

Ten minutes later Kristina (with a K) emailed back with the info that there was such a dance program for Parkinson's at a hospital not 5 miles away and she and Sarah would be checking it out.

What amazes me is the process. A bit of research from 30 years ago, something I heard on NPR or read the day before, a memory of Kristina's (with a K) enthusiasm for dance therapy, all of this zip-zapped around the brain and collected into an idea that turned out not to be so wild after all.  

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Poetry in a Tractor Shed

I had wondered, when I first saw Molly Rich's drama students perform in Hickory, why they were wearing T-shirts with Tractor Shed Theatre across the front. Perhaps a nod to the rural nature of that part of North Carolina?

No, their classroom/theatre is a converted tractor shed behind the high school. Here are Molly's driving instructions to the judges of the district Poetry Out Loud competition:

"You will turn in left and ride past the front of the school - go through the gate and around a sharp curve into a student parking lot. Go towards the greenhouse and the red barn-looking storage unit. Go through the wee area at the greenhouse and drive up and you will see the tractor shed and my tan/goldish van. Stars are on the ground and the front door is black and stenciled in white tractor shed theatre." 

Tiny, as theatres go. Warm and full of life, as classrooms go.

9 of her students who had won at the school level were competing for the chance to go to the state competition. Each chose 2 poems, one of them pre-20th century, from the list of 150 poems provided by this National Endowment for the Arts program. 

First up was Howe's "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." Ai-yi-yi, I thought. Why would this wisp of a girl choose something so problematic? So easy to slide into that sing-songy rhythm that we all know, so difficult to make distinctive the repetitive last line that ends each verse. She avoided both pitfalls and when she got to the last verse, "In the beauty of the lilies" (a silly, sentimental line), she created a hush in the room. 

We heard "Dover Beach," we heard Dunbar and Emerson. We heard a stunning contemporary poem recited by a wrestler and football player with a magnificent voice—one of those difficult poems in which the individual lines made no logical sense, yet he, and therefore we, understood its meaning at a deep level.

Two great, thoughtful performances, but the winner was even better. 

All of this richness in a tractor shed behind a small school in the hills. 

How far into the hills? After the competition, Julie Kolischak, one of the other judges, and I headed for what Siri said was the nearest restaurant, the Roadside Diner. When we asked to use the restroom, we were directed to another building across the parking lot. Yes, on the corner of that darkened building was a hand-lettered "Restroom" sign. The door to the accommodation was made of unframed boards nailed together, so a bit of a struggle to open and close it. But, hey, I grew up using an outhouse until I was in my teens.
smile emoticon"

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

What is Creativity? - 31

I've been working on a chapter of The Creative Experience for the last three weeks, a chapter about the body. During the process, I wrote out an exercise that I use with voice students. But much more detailed because I wasn't there to watch or listen to the result of the posture changes I was suggesting. That's how I came up with the ideal posture in the first place—by noticing how a shift in a student's hips affected the voice.

When I'm teaching my attention is on the client's body, not mine, which I only use sparingly to illustrate. But as I wrote out each step, I was using my own body to double-check that each shift in position would produce the effect I was looking for.

I was awed, as I am at each lesson I teach, by how beautifully integrated the body is. A slight change in the angle of a foot released tension in my hips that I hadn't noticed. A shift in the position of the torso over the feet released tension in my neck and the back of my head.

After I'd written the last step, I had a teacher-teach-thyself moment.  I was fully inside my body, and fully present in the now. The judgmental tapes from childhood  that I still carry around with me fell away. I've been experimenting with experiencing my life from inside my body instead of my head ever since. It's quite different from any yoga or meditation exercise that I'm aware of. I'm not in my head observing my body, I'm in my body experiencing it and the world around me.

It's not been all fun and games. I discovered an old terror that's been hiding in my body for more than 60 years. A mild case of jealousy that was completely unexpected.

And, yes, I get the irony of learning so much about my own body, after 35 years of teaching other bodies.