"The truth is, all of us have an expressive vocal mansion inside us - inseparable from our selves. Sure, some houses may have a few more rooms, or a wild firehouse pole into the basement. Some houses are more modest, but even those are filled with as many rooms as we have emotions and thoughts. And most all of us will see renovations and changes with time. But we can’t have access to all the rooms, or all the nooks and crannies, until we clear away some clutter. Some of that clutter, then, is physical tension.
Another “clutter” that can cloud our sound-making is the idea of “singing.” That might be a concept of a “correct” posture, a “powerful” voice, sounding “pretty,” “perfect” or all sorts of idealized versions of singing. This is like having a mansion but living your whole life in one room. Unsinging habituates us to releasing our expectations. Stop listening for a sound. Experience the possibility of all sorts of singing - go through all the rooms and find every nook and cranny. It’s inexhaustible! And here’s where the work of “nonsinging” begins.
The work is never complete. All homes need maintenance for rusty hinges, peeling paint, etc. Sometimes a hail storm comes through and breaks a window, or a room starts to feel musty and ready for redecorating. So we come back to the work - ever freer from, ever freer to."
Shawn Shafner (he/they) is an artist, educator and facilitator. Creator of The People's Own Organic Power Project (www.thePOOPproject.org), he has catalyzed conversation about sustainable sanitation from NYC's largest wastewater treatment plant to the United Nations; look for his book Know Your Shit available now from Cider Mill Press and Audible. Shawn teaches movement through the lineage of acclaimed choreographer Tamar Rogoff, sings with Marisa Michelson’s Constellation Chor Ensemble, and develops arts-integrated curriculum for learners of all ages. Shawn is also a community educator, corporate facilitator and mindfulness coach.
He is currently attending George Washington University earning an MFA in Social Practice with an Emphasis in Public Policy. Shawn has been singing since he could make sound, and has been studying with Marisa since 2007. He is thrilled to take this practice further and step into the role of teacher, offering singing and somatic vocal practice for the benefit of all. He is devoted to manifesting a world of creativity, community and joy. So let’s get started already!
(Photo by Bridget Badore, insta @bridgetbadore)