– over and above the exhilaration, the joy, the beauty, that can be experienced though singing?
Here Jill Rakusen, founder of Giving Voice, reveals aspects of what this approach offers, including in daily life, and particularly when isolated. She gives some examples, and summarises ways in which we at the Foundation are offering distance learning opportunities – so people can develop skill in using it, regardless of health status or perceived singing capacity.
Giving Voice (GV) opens up unimaginable possibilities (before I discovered it, I couldn’t imagine these possibilities either!). It can be helpful in so many ways, particularly when times are challenging – for example,
building our capacity for rest and renewal
establishing and drawing on resourceful coping mechanisms
maintaining connectedness – so useful when in lockdown
finding ease and release from stress
learning better how to live with uncertainty
It’s been used in extremely stressful situations, including during danger or its aftermath. Marie, for instance, found herself harnessing it whilst stuck in her car ...wondering not just when, and how, but whether she could be freed from it after a serious accident. It helped Sandra recover from a traumatic bereavement, and Arlene drew on it during and after being held at knifepoint in her home. Arlene has described not only finding strength and courage during her ordeal, but also compassion for her assailants.
It’s got a lot to offer when we’re in enforced isolation – as I was when I developed it, living with chronic illness and often confided to bed. In fact, when we’re alone it has most to offer us. It’s not dependent on anyone else (it’s available to draw on in virtually any situation), and it involves a process that's unique to each person’s needs in the moment – very useful when living in unprecedented times. And we don’t have to be in good health to do it. Often, believe it or not, the most profound Giving Voice experiences happen when we connect with a song in silence.
Children as well as adults can find it helpful – in fact they often take to it like ducks to water. There’s a whole report about this (contact us if you would like to know more) and I’ve recorded my Song About Finding Peace especially for children, which can be accessed by joining our group from our Facebook page.
It’s rooted in something I realised early on, that what a song offers is profoundly affected by how we approach it. This is one of the ‘key elements’ involved in how to ‘unlock the power of a song’ – the title of my book (see below).
Obviously the choice of song is important too. Most of the songs used in GV have been born out of challenge, and people often discover greater depths in the songs, and in themselves, because they are facing significant challenges. At such times, we tend to shed any cynicism, ambivalence or embarrassment – knowing that that familiar self is no match for what we are facing.
We in the ‘civilised’ world are learning about aspects of life that the rest of humanity has known for millennia: life is precarious; we are all connected – to each other, to the earth, and everything on it; and song can play a profound role in deepening our awareness and facilitating our growth. That’s what the GV Process is designed to do. It helps us perceive the present more clearly, act with more courage, care and compassion, and shape the future – not just our own. Alongside the entire global environmental emergency, the virus has given us a wake- up call. GV can help us grow in our ability to rise to it.
Oh, and GV is a resource that’s open to us, whether or not we believe we can sing!
At the Giving Voice Foundation we’re committed to helping people discover how to unlock the power of song – and to develop this skill in their day-to-day lives. Since we can’t currently teach it face-to-face, we’re exploring new ways of doing this. For example, we’ve set up two Facebook Groups to facilitate people’s learning; and we’re putting recordings there of some tried-and-tested songs for challenging times, plus some hints on how to begin unlocking their power.
Of course, our approach isn’t a panacea, nor is it for everyone, and it’s definitely not a replacement for mental health care for those of us who need it. Also, to achieve lasting change, some commitment to what we call ‘personal practice’ is necessary.
Here’s a flavour of what others have found through engaging in the Giving Voice Process:
“The pain dissolved. And I don’t even ‘do’ music! The peace and joy I can now access is unbelievable.”
“I let the song nourish me, just soaking it up. Eventually I experienced a massive surge through my body. I felt I was experiencing my own power. I felt a sense of wonder.”
“I [was] full of rage with a silent scream. By the end of the song the anger had gone ... I felt at peace.”
“I’ve learnt such a lot, inwardly, spiritually. I’ve got a lot of strength – to carry on. I’m more aware, and I feel I have more power over my life ...”
We’re hoping that my new book – Unlocking the Power of Song: a Companion for Challenging Times – will be available before the year is out; in the meantime we have begun making extracts available in our ‘Unlocking the Power of Song’ Facebook group.
Want to know more?
Join our mailing list
Join our 'Unlocking the Power of Song' Facebook group
Contact us or comment below
Thanks for reading!
Whatever you do, do remember that, as I discovered, song can be a much more powerful resource than you might have imagined!