singing class

Pale Blue Dot - Reflections for the new year by Melanie Ida Chopko

This year I've thought a lot about stories, the stories I tell myself about my own life and the larger world I witness around me. And I know more than ever that the extent to which I am exposed to the horrors of the world is the extent to which I need to seek out its beauty. 

I'm wary of blotting out 2017 completely, with all of its loss and explicit displays of hate. For when I zoom into my - to our - grief and anger, it always quietly reveals a central pearl of love, the pearl of giving a damn. For so many years I didn't know how to slow down enough to respect that pearl, care for it, instead of whack-a-moling my emotions away. But when I do, there's space. Alot of it.

So, at the very beginning of this year, I'm thinking a lot about the profound practice of zooming in and out, both into the dignity of our experience, and out to the wholeness of it. I recently was so moved by Carl Sagan's reflections on a photograph of Earth, "The Pale Blue Dot" monologue from Cosmos.

That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines...every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child...

Every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every ‘superstar,’ every ‘supreme leader,’ every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there — on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. 
- Carl Sagan, Cosmos

Somehow acknowledging all of it, respecting the wholeness of all its brokenness and beauty, I'm less drowned by it. Somehow there is the new spaciousness to do the work I need to do in this time.  

I don't any better way to hold vast, varied truth than through honoring the basics - sleep, meditation, real food, connection & empty-space-outbreath/play. May our New Year's intentions hold these as well.

Also, news to me - some most stunning contributions of humanity yet happened this year - read about 99 of them


PS. In the Dark was fantastic, and I'll get some video to you soon. And, what a year to celebrate in my music-as-a-force-for-good department, below! You can read more about all of these and the goofs/splats/dreams behind the scenes, here.

Thursday, January 25th
- House Concert (stand by just a liiittle bit longer for deets!)
Friday, January 26th - Private Show
Singing Outside the Shower: 21st Century Folk Repertoire
January 10th - February 14th @ The Freight

Nope, it's not too late. by Melanie Ida Chopko

This week, my beginner singing class starts at The Freight, and I wrote a bit more about my own music education story. Enjoy, and PM me for more information on the class!

For much of my life I really wondered if what I heard was true - if I didn't learn music "as a kid", did that window of opportunity close forever? I sat on my hands for about 10 years, afraid the ship had sailed, but still sitting in the front row of every concert, surrounding myself with musicians. I was so passionate about music, often moved to tears, and often resentful that I couldn't join in. As much as I tried, I couldn't shake the desire to learn to sing, write songs and play more instruments. 

Everything changed when I learned a bit more about...brain science. My fear wasn't a decree that this was impossible, it was just a sign I was up to something big, new, and hugely important to me. I searched out true-blue teachers who were able to meet my beginner level with dignity, and hold up believing lanterns for my dreams. I got a support structure in place so I could practice.  I learned techniques not just for instruments, but on how to enjoy the process, methods of practice that could bring me joy and presence rather than anxiety. And, several years later, I produced and recorded my first EP of original music, more formally stepping into my role as a performer.

It is my deepest honor to give back to support other adults and teens to do the same. I host a variety of classes and lessons each month, creating a learning environment focused as much on play, humor, and possibility as solid technique. My education includes countless music classes and lessons, as well as my learnings of the principles of creativity from Julia Cameron's The Artist Way, Kenny Werner's Effortless Mastery, Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic, and the Academy for Coaching Excellence. 

Singing In the Dark. (inauguration day sing-along) by Melanie Ida Chopko

Like many of you since the election, I've toggled between fear, acceptance, revulsion and awe. And, I'm recommitting to living where my feet are, listening and acting from my center, and embracing the ride of "hope in the dark":

Hope is an embrace of the unknown and the unknowable, an alternative to the certainty of both optimists and pessimists. Optimists think it will all be fine without our involvement; pessimists adopt the opposite position; both excuse themselves from acting.  Hope locates itself in the premises that we don’t know what will happen and that in the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act....We may not, in fact, know [the impact of our actions] afterwards either, but they matter all the same, and history is full of people whose influence was most powerful after they were gone. - Rebecca Solnit

And I don't know anything better to do than to sing to that, sing through that. On Inauguration Day, I'm honored open for Ladysmith Black Mambazo, with my project The Justice & Resilience Pop-Up Choir. Please come and sing with us, instead of thinking too much alone at home. (You can also stay after for Ladysmith, but scoop your tickets ASAP.)

Also starting January 11th is another volume of Singing Outside the Shower. I remember just two records in my house growing up: Stevie Wonder's Songs in the Key of Life and Carole King's Tapestry. I'm so happy to feature her songwriting genius in this class, and supporting adults to be happy, creative, empowered beginners.

In the meantime, singout to this, a stunning, updated National Anthem by my dear friend Jean Rohe. Yup, you can let yourself cry.