Voice Work for Focus and Concentration

I am always searching for fresh and innovative ideas when it comes to bringing myself to a place of readiness, in my work (whether that be my own artistic practice, my teaching practice, or my scholarly practice) but, also, just in my everyday practice of being present and focused in my daily life.
Check out BeSpoke Communication’s guided practice — it gave me a renewed sense of centre and presence and for that (especially today) I am grateful.

BeSpoke Communication

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Hey friends,

Meet Dotty, short for Dorothy Boots. Christine is fostering Dotty for the month while she’s in between homes, and, wow, do cats teach you a lot about voice work! Partly because Dotty is a very vocal kitty, but also because cats provide such great examples of what it is to be fully relaxed or fully engaged–  fully present. We love this picture because it shows such an open, curious sense of focus.

That is what this week’s audio guide is all about: using voice work to help you find a sense of focus and concentration. A little-known side affect of the body work that comes along with working on the voice is that it’s great to help you tune in and gain a sense of focus and concentration. This sequence is useful if you are embarking on a new project, a new school year, a new job, or…

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This is the Sound of My Memory

I am excited to be giving a Performative Presentation on February 5 2017 at The 25th annual Festival of Original Theatre (FOOT) conference entitled Sounding The Inner Ear of Performance at the University of Toronto.

The abstract for my part paper and part performance presentation, This is The Sound of My Memory is as follows;

As a voice practitioner and educator my research is centred on the dichotomy of technique and freedom in vocal expression. How may we as performers ensure that we are using our voices in a technically sound and effective way, yet allow the voice to be “authentic,” freed from self-judgment and grounded in the physical responses of the body? My research has included the development of methods that intertwine autobiographical narrative with both classical and contemporary text (sung and spoken). I have found that deconstructing traditional texts and forms can successfully serve as a key method for expanding the performer’s capacity to somatically and emotionally connect to the material at hand, and for using the voice in a more expressive and holistic way. My findings suggest that the use of autoethnographic performance techniques may encourage the performer to fully engage with the breath and voice, leading to, as Susan Bennet describes, using the whole body as a “vessel of somatic history” which may be useful in freeing the voice from technical restraints. My investigations have led me to uncover how we archive sounds in our bodies and how we as performers may tap into this archive as an axis for mining a deeper connection to the text and/or music orally and somatically. As part of my research I devised a piece which weaves my own personal narrative detailing my Mother’s diagnosis with Alzheimer’s disease with that of a Kurt Weill song. This presentation will be part paper and part performance as I discuss and demonstrate how I devised the piece, my process of exploration into the song, as well as the methods used that allowed my personal narrative to emerge

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The Crook of Your Arm

June 16 and 17 2016

The Other Place Royal Shakespeare Company Stratford-Upon-Avon, UK.

Written, Directed and Performed by Shannon Holmes

With music by Kurt Weill Featuring Megan Kirwin, Cello

Artwork by Mariana Ruiz de la Orden

Special thanks to;

Dr.Caroline Radcliffe, Dr. Adam Ledger (University of Birmingham), Professor Noah Drew, (Concordia University, Montréal, Canada) and Agustin Ruiz de la Orden.

The Crook of Your Arm recounts the story of my mother’s diagnoses with Alzheimers disease and the effect it has had on my family. I had not set out to tell this story or even write this particular piece, however during my research into the use of somatic vocal methods as a means for classically trained singers to find a deeper connection to text and music in performance, this story emerged. The story began to unfold as remembered experiences while I was exploring the Kurt Weill song “Je ne t’aime pas.” I have intertwined my own personal narrative through the song as a way to open up somatic memories and emotions, transferring those memories to the expression of the written music and text. The title, The Crook of Your Arm is my translation of a line in the song “le creux de tes bras”; a familiar, intimate and safe place