Humming Through The Clarinet & Learning How To Learn

Block 4th
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A Note from Carl:
When I was in fourth grade in 1982, Mr. Ostrander, the middle school music teacher, came in to do a demonstration of all the different instruments we could study in 5th grade. Before the presentation, I had decided on drums, I wanted to be a drummer. I was always moving, tapping on things, had far too much energy to be confined to a desk, and drumming felt like a good fit. Mr. Ostrander demonstrated all the instruments, and when he got to the clarinet he added “and the best part about it is that you can use the mouthpiece for a duck caller-quack, quack, quack!”  In a moment, my drumming aspirations dissolved, and I was drawn in by the siren song of a clarinet mouthpiece duck-caller.
When I got my clarinet, I moistened the reed, put it on the mouthpiece, and ran around the house making duck calls, and that was about as far as I got in my musical training. I did not enjoy the clarinet. When we had a concert, I would hum the notes through the clarinet, trying not to be loud enough to be noticed. I like the metaphor of humming through the clarinet- it can become a way of life. It reminds me of how our friend and mentor, Francis Weller, often jokes that for a good part of his life, he imagined his headstone on his grave reading “safe at last.”  Didn’t get busted. Didn’t make a mistake. Didn’t cause ripples. Didn’t get noticed. Didn’t make a sound. Safe at last.
After setting down my expensive duck-caller,  I grew up feeling I was not musical.  I couldn’t sing a song on key, I wasn’t able to keep a rhythm on a drum. It was not until my mid-twenties, when Erin and I (before we were together) and a group of friends would gather with George Grant, a tabla player and vocal teacher, to experiment with voice and rhythm and overtones, that I was able to reclaim my musical self. When there was a context of learning around voice and rhythm, my natural, musical self was right there under a thin layer of forgetting.
So much can continue to unfold in us when we learn how to learn and created context that support our learning.
I no longer hum through the clarinet, but now sing and drum and do body percussion around the house all day:)
I am looking forward to spending some time learning and playing in Inhabiting Your Naturally Free Breath and Voice today. Recordings are provided if you can’t join us live.
With love,
PS You can still join in on Erin’s Maitri: Courting the Essential Ingredient course that started last week. Such profound teachings and practice.
PPS I have been so lit up by participating  Musica Do Circulo facilitator training with Brazilian body percussion and vocal improv teacher Zuzu Gonclaves, whom I met at the Bobby McFerrin retreat last year. Here is a little video- we are going to have some fun circles gathering together on the horizon!
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By training and profession, I am a somatic educator. Over the past 25+ years I have trained in and taught modern dance, tai chi, Indian and Tibetan yoga, yoga therapy (specializing in back pain). I completed a 4-year professional Feldenkrais training in 2007 and a 3-year Embodied Life training in 2014. I also study and work with somatic meditation and the profound practice of embodied inner listening known as Focusing.