#WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft

on . Posted in News

I'm only partially departing from the September theme of Intuition today because the two hashtags #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft have gone viral. In the wake of the NFL player who punched his wife unconscious in an elevator, abused women and men have come out full-force to help others understand why it is so hard for us to leave, what keeps us there, and how public perception needs to change.

I've added a new section to my Personal page, explaining #WhyIStayed and also #WhyILeft. Click here to go there and read it.

What kept me safe for such a long time in an abusive relationship was my intuition. I knew how to deal with him, how to survive each fight, I knew exactly what kind of evening it was going to be when he walked in the door from work. Any survivor of an abusive relationship will tell you what a certain lift of an eyebrow can mean, what's about to arrive just by listening to the rhythm of steps in the hall, and how we just know.

When I left, I just knew it wasn't going to get any better. Ever.

I knew I was stuck between a rock (staying) and a hard place (leaving) and I was only leaving because I knew I couldn't stay. The dangers of leaving had been made clear to me--leaving an abusive relationship is and remains the most dangerous time. So I knew I had to do everything in my power to get out and to keep myself safe, no matter what.

It was in my weakest moment, the most terrifying time of my life that I had to make the strongest, most courageous decision I will ever make.

In the week I was packing up, I had many thoughts about the people I was leaving behind--people I'd known for up to 7 years. I thought of how he had grown into a younger version of his dad--down to the exact age he was when he decided he wanted a Porsche. (?!?!?!) I took a hard look at his mom, whom I loved dearly. She was nice. So nice. But that was all she could be--given the relationship she was in, she couldn't be anything more than that--not the intelligent, interesting & interested person she truly is. She could only be what her husband allowed her to be. And there was no way in hell I was going to let that be my life.

I looked at his friends and I remembered what my advocate had said--his friends were his friends, not mine, and their loyalties lie with him. Over the next weeks I saw them for who they truly are:  two-faced, back-stabbing opportunists. Petty and jealous of one another, always engaged in some kind of drama. As their behaviors became clear to me, the little, confusing moments of the past years became understandable.

To be very clear:  it took weeks just to get out, 2 1/2 years to get divorced, 3 1/2 before it was all over, 6 years to feel some kind of peace begin to take residence in my life. When I left I had no idea what was going to happen to me, nor did I have any clue what kind of fresh hell he would heap onto my life for years to come.

I was powerless in the relationship, powerless to leave until I told my parents and they helped me, and I was powerless after I left because I had no money to make things happen.

Going from powerless and knowing where he is to powerless and not knowing where he was didn't seem like a good deal--but it was the only decision I could make to even try to keep myself safe.

No one asked, "Why did he do that to you?" They asked how I had stuck it out for so long. As if I had had so many other, awesome choices.

We must place blame where blame is due--on the abuser. And nowhere else.

Intuition 1: Your Instincts

on . Posted in Singing

11949854421936090706farfalla contorno archit 01.svg.hiSome people claim they are not intuitive.

I disagree.

If you have ever had a gut feeling, you have intuition. And since pretty much everyone has had a gut feeling, pretty much everyone is intuitive.

Musicians are particularly intuitive. Think of how we communicate with our bodies and our facial expression in rehearsal and performing. It's not so convenient to talk while you're rehearsing, however you can move your body slightly or change the way your breath is moving to create a dramatic tone which your musical partner responds to with elan. Some of it is seen, some of it is heard, and some of it is pure sense. Think of chamber musicians sensing their group members' guidance through the slightest raise of an eyebrow. Or purely through feeling.

Hold on it's gonna get a little woo-woo up in here.

Feeling is the focus today. Musicians feel so much and we feel it so deeply. Many of us are also introverts and we are fueled by time alone--by a need to clear our minds and rejuvenate in order to be ok around other people. We are sensitive people in terms of how our feelings feel to us and we can so frequently tune in to other people in such a way that we know if something is going on with them even if they hadn't said a word.

This is called clairsentience:  clear-feeling.

It's related to the commonly known term clairvoyance or clear-seeing. There are 4 main types of claires, the other two being clairaudience or clear-hearing and claircognizance or clear-knowing. Two other types of clairs are fairly rare, clairalience orclear-smelling, and clairgustance or clear-tasting.

* There is an article about an oboist or clarinettist in Germany who tastes the notes she plays--I can't find it, but if you know where it is, please comment below or send me the link via 'contact' (above). *

Well that all sounds really woo-woo. What does this mean for every-day living?

Really this means that musicians have a special sensitivity to feeling other people's feelings. We are open to these feelings and we sometimes take them on either emotionally and we carry it around with us, or we get too involved in it when it's not necessarily our place.

If you find yourself carried away on someone else's "stuff" or that tense moment in rehearsal is still with you hours later, you might have taken it on. Or perhaps you learned growing up to ignore your instincts and later you regret having ignored them.

Our job as people is to hone our instincts and to take care of our own feelings. To put it in woo-woo terms, it's our job to take care of our own energy and to leave other people's energy to themselves. And also to protect ourselves when we need to protect our own energies.

Your best intuitive guide is you. Rule #1:  Listen to your gut. Rule #2:  If in doubt, refer to rule #1.

So Hone Your Instincts

The best way to hone your instincts is to listen to your gut--even if it doesn't make too much sense. Don't fall into the trap of feeling something in your gut and then excusing it with "Oh, no, that would never happen."

Be cautious of random energy modalities developed by someone trying to sell you something. It may be the 21st century, however snake oil is still a hot item. And for women especially--we are taught by our culture not to listen to our instincts, that we are supposed to abide by something someone else says.


So first give yourself a couple of months to hone your instincts and really challenge yourself to listen to your gut and follow it. It is really that simple and that difficult. 

I reached a point a few years ago where there was a project I just couldn't deal with any more--I tried to make changes and all the while my gut instinct was speaking louder and louder--be done with this! This is not going to get any better! You already know all you need to know! Although it was not a popular choice for me, and it didn't make any sense to anyone else, I knew the best thing for me would be to jump ship.

I did and I haven't looked back. Other fantastic projects came along and I feel good that I trusted my gut.

If after a couple of months you find you keep running into barriers, or you're already there, or you just want to learn more about deep instincts, give this book a whirl:

Women Who Run With the Wolves changed my perception of my intuition in deep, meaningful ways. I've recommended it to friends and every single person who has read it has said that it held great meaning and value for them.



September Theme: Intuition in Music

on . Posted in News


Open Intervals is now returning to its usual schedule of Thursday postings (with an extra post occasionally). We're also gong with a special theme this month, so in September you'll find new insights into intuition in musicmystery-box-hi. Musicians are frequently very sensitive people--how else can we possibly create such beautiful, human, emotional performances?! And how is it that musicians understand body language so much more than others? That's all part of our intuition--our sensitivity as musicians.

Every person, musician or not, has special qualities no one else has--and these are frequently expressed through our gut feelings, our unique creative voices.

Gut instinct = intuition.

A gut feeling is a gift meant to be unpacked.

To help you unpack that gift, you'll learn about using your intuition, your gut instinct, your unique sensitivity, to your benefit. You'll also learn about:

*  2 not-so-esoteric actions:  grounding and shielding

*  a famous pianist who has a special, sensitive connection

*  and how you can allow your intuition to fuel your art.

We live in a very logical world which frequently calculates out to a zero-sum game. Music is, however, neither completely logical, nor is it ever a zero-sum game. Sometimes we have to allow our own perceptions to change to beat this one-plus-one-equals-two mentality.

By the end of September, you'll add a few more intuitive tools to your toolbox and hopefully be a happier, more content artist as a result.

Each article in this series will have "Intuition" in the title. To find any of these articles, you can search for "Intuition" in the search bar waaaay up at the top of the page or you can click on the tag "Intuition" in the tag cloud on the right.

See you tomorrow (Thursday!) for the first installment!

SCAM WARNING: Voice Teachers Beware of "Mrs Anna Bells"

on . Posted in News

exclamation-mark-red-mdYesterday I received this email from "Mrs Anna Bells," claiming that she's searching for a voice teacher for her son. It also came through in a Facebook group for private voice instructors, AND I received another, almost identical, in response to an ad I ran for German lessons, so apparently they are targeting teachers.

Remember to exercise caution on the internet.

Here's the text of the scam email:



       I'm Mrs anna Bells from Paris,France.during my search for a   voice   lesson teacher that would always take my son ( Chris is very good speak English ) and I found you..Your advert looks great and it is very okay to me since you specialize in the area i am seeking for him... My Son would be coming to US (your city) by next week for a period of time and with his friend for 2 Months.he is just a beginner and he is 16 years old, i want you to help me teach lesson during his stay. So, kindly let me know your charges cost per week's ,in order for me to arrange for his payment before he travels down to your side. I have also made preparation for his personal equipment he will be using privately at home after the lesson during his stay.

Please Advise back on;

(1). your charges per 1 hour twice a week for 2 Months?

(2).The Day and time you will be available to teach him During the week?

(3).Tuition address?

I will be looking forward to read from you soonest.

Best Regards,

Mrs Anna Bells"


UPDATE:  I just checked my website stats and this came from Nigeria. Can't even feign surprise.

For Voice Teachers: The Private Voice Studio Handbook

on . Posted in Teaching

The Private Voice Studio Handbook by Joan Frey Boytim

Joan Frey Boytim's Private Voice Studio Handbook is a Must-Have for all Voice Teachers

September is just around the corner and now is the time to get your voice studio organized for the next school year. A great tool for getting your studio set up is The Private Voice Studio Handbook: A Practical Guide to All Aspects of Teaching by Joan Frey Boytim.
Long known and respected as a voice teacher and presenter for the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), Ms. Boytim taught voice privately for over 45 years. Her experiences as a school music teacher, a private voice instructor, and a compiler of dozens of vocal repertoire books for Hal Leonard publishing have provided her with more than enough expertise for producing this excellent handbook.
I've been using this book as a guide and resource for my voice studio since I began teaching in 2004. Knowing the ins and outs and having heard it all, I can confidently recommend this book for any and for all private voice studio instructors.
Here's what I think:


+ Friendly Format: each chapter begins with a 'letter' from 'Nancy' and serves as an introduction to each chapter. Even these short letters provide insight and assistance.
+ She is clear that a voice studio is a business. Chapter 21 is appropriately entitled "Business 101" and that's exactly what Ms Boytim provides. She covers the delicate task of raising lesson fees with clarity and appropriateness: "Since studio teaching is a business and not a hobby, your fee schedule adjustments must be made as economic factors dictate."
+ Ms Boytim has covered all the major topics in a great level of detail. She covers equipment, the studio policy, music purchases, record-keeping and organization.
+ The structure of the lesson is important, as consistency and repetition lend much to the students' learning process. She covers the initial lesson in-depth (Chapter 7).
+ Solfeggio Syllable Sheets:  So many singers don't necessarily learn the basics of how to create music, they learn music and then can repeat it. Learning to identify the structure of music is a key component of creating music, and Ms Boytim has included her own Solfeggio Syllable Sheets for your studio use--with duplication authorization. She's even included simple harmonizations so you can accompany the student for these. These are an invaluable tool to helping students learn how to sight-sing and they are basically free.
+ Multiple Income Streams:  there's a list on page 105 of other income producers. She gives great ideas!


- Since this book was published in 2003, it doesn't offer advice on running your website or using a powerful online tool like Music Teacher's Helper.
- Some of the topics, like what to wear (she recommends skirts for females...) are not necessarily going to resonate with Gen X, Gen Y, and the Millennials. When in doubt, go for Business Casual or for Business Dress. It's always better to be over-dressed than under-dressed.
- Sometimes it's better to politely reject a student that you can not serve well, whether it be through personality conflict or mismatched goals. Ms Boytim doesn't answer this question, which can be a sticky situation for an instructor.

In Summary:

The Private Voice Studio Handbook is a must-have for any voice instructor, whether you are teaching part-time or full-time. It's important to have a clear structure and to present yourself professionally as an independent business owner and as an instructor. Especially if you are in the vital foundational stages of your business (the first 1-3 years), this book will provide you with essential information and guidance for a successful voice studio.