Q: What will I get from this course?
A: After this course
You will understand five key relations in the body that work together for freer and easier breathing and singing
You will have specific practices to allow the body to gently reorganize as preparation for singing pedagogy
You will gently retrain the deep, inner-core slow-twitch muscles that support the breathing mechanism.
You will get a system to work with your body in any setting.
You will feel empowered to continue to grow at your own pace
Q Who is this course for?
A This course is appropriate for anyone who wants to enjoy their body and feel good now. We have created this course specifically with the singer in mind.
Q: Do you have to be a singer to do this course?
Q: What age is this appropriate for?
A: We recommend mature middle schooler and up. This was recorded with a group ranging in age from 16 to 60s. If you are resonating with it, we encourage you to give it a try.
Q: What is this class?
A: It is a 10-hour, self-paced online video movement and awareness practice that teaches you how to work with your body.
Q: Is this a singing class?
A: No, this is not a singing class.
Q: Is there singing in this class?
A: There is some vocalizing occasionally, in the context of playing with awareness of the rest of the body.
Q: How do I access the videos?
A: Once you buy the course you will be emailed access to the series. All the videos live simply on a single page.
Q: Is this a self-paced course?
A: Yes! It is a very simple offering - once you sign up you are sent access to pre-recorded videos which all live on one page. You get to choose your pace.
Q: Will this course help me with my breathing?
Q: I’ve been struggling with breath control. Will it help with that, too?
A: Yes, and you will discover a whole new way to relate to the subject of breath. You’ll find a more natural relationship to it.
Q Who leads this course?
A: I have curated the space and provided the terrain for Sandra Bain Cushman to impart her wisdom and life’s work. Sandra is our skilled and wonderful teacher. Every class features conversation between all of us, drawing upon the wisdom of the room. It is a collaborative effort designed to connect authentically with singers’ concerns.
Q Where did this pedagogy come from?
A: Sandra saw this 5-point system in a vision during meditation, spent the last decade refining and honing in university and musical settings and around the world. You might like to hear her tell the story herself in this 22-minute interview.
Q: Is this hard?
A: This is a very gentle course and very easy to learn. Sandra will often say, “this is so simple you almost can’t learn it because it’s already inside you.”
Q: Does this involve big movements?
A: All movements are very slow, very small, very subtle.
Q: Is this going to require a lot of time from me?
A: The course itself includes a little over 10 hours of pre-recorded content which can be taken as slowly as you wish over as long a period as you like.
If all you do is schedule time for this series, you will experience some kind of shift in your body.
Q: Do I need to practice?
You may wish to allocate additional time in your schedule for practicing some of the movements you learn in class (Sandra recommends aiming for 10 minutes a day), but what you are learning can easily be applied in your normal movement and music practices.
While you’re making dinner, driving, walking, making music, sitting at your desk, doing yoga, you can be tuning into concepts taught in this course. As you play with these concepts you will be creating new pathways in your brain and body.
What most people experience is a gradual awareness building that seeps into your life and daily rhythms until new patterns become new normals.
Q: I am seated all day for virtual school/work. Will this help?
A: Yes. This course will help you counteract the physical toll of full-time virtual learning/working and maintain healthy pathways in your body so that your body, breath, and voice stay feeling really free and open.
There is at least one full class devoted to sitting and how to create a chair setup that is appropriate for your body.
Q: How does this course actually change my experience?
A: Our whole body is our instrument and this course teaches us how to work with it on a deeper level. The simple, gentle practices that you explore in your daily living can add up to significant musculoskeletal shifts over time.
Q: How is each class structured?
Each class features part simple instruction and education, some organic (pre-recorded) discussion, simple awareness games, and guided movements focusing on tiny, tiny sequential movements. The flow of the class is fluid and cumulative, so content carries over between classes.
Q: How long are the classes?
A: Each class is about 55 minutes in length.
Q: How does this class work?
A: Once you purchase this course, you will receive access to your videos via email.
The first video will provide you with instruction on how to get the most from this series.
The second video will show you our roadmap.
In the third video you’ll meet the singers who were involved in recording this class.
Classes 1 - 9 provide 9 hours of teaching and guided practice,
Class 10 is a wrap up hour where we look back on what we have gained.
That’s 10.5 total hours of viewing.
This is a significant amount of content.
You take these classes as you please, at a pace that feels comfortable to you.
Q: Why are the classes so long?
A: This is a slow practice. In addition to instruction, Sandra involves guided explorations in each class. And you will also notice that when the class slips into conversation, that the teaching is woven through the participants’ questions.
Q: What are the videos like?
A: This is an un-produced series. We gathered on Zoom and hit the record button. So you have the magic of Zoom with all of us tuning in from our respective homes, and all the bumps of Zoom - occasional audio blips, occasional mute button challenges, occasional screen share hiccups. We tried editing them and decided against it - in the end we found that there is a wisdom in the pauses that happen in class.
Q: Do you have any resources that are shorter?
A: No. If you follow along with us, your body will have sufficient space to move beyond concept into transformation.
Q: How long will it take me to complete this course?
Many people like to take a class, let it soak in, play with the concepts and return for the next class in the series after a few weeks.
1 class a week = 10-12 weeks (A steady and consistent pace of taking this course)
2 classes a week = 5-6 weeks (Recommended).
3 classes a week = 3-4 weeks. (This more accelerated pace might be appropriate for someone who has a background in Alexander Technique or a related movement practice.)
Q: I’m applying to music schools. Will this help me?
A: Yes. What Sandra is teaching us has lived mostly within the walls of conservatories. Sandra’s approach is a re-organization of other approaches to working with the body and it’s simple enough for anyone to master. If you are planning on going to music school or pursuing a career you will love this. You’ve got to be able to slow down enough to meet us for our slow roll, and when you do it will pay dividends.
Q: I am a high school student getting ready for my college auditions. I want to set up my body and voice for a healthy, long career so that I can fulfill my dreams. Is this worth my time and investment?
A: 100% yes. This class will give you a way to be in your body that feels natural, easy, and effortless. You will feel more of your own natural confidence. High school is an intense time and your attention is being pulled in a thousand directions. If you can slow down enough to meet us for even just a few minutes a week, this simple practice really does work to bring peace and wellbeing into your system, from breath to sound to your general sense of self.
Q: I get vocally fatigued during rehearsal and it’s impacting my ability to participate in my group. Will this help me?
A: YES. You’re going to love understanding how to work with your body effectively to enjoy more freedom.
Q: I am a skilled professional singer and a confident performer. I know myself really well, I have no vocal challenges and I’m already a mindful mover. What makes this class different?
A: Sandra’s careful use of language is game changing. Subtle word changes in cues make all the difference in how the brain and body receive the instruction.
Her approach draws on her many years as an Alexander Technique teacher, something with which many performing artists are familiar. The simple framework taught here features a rearrangement of body relationships that is taught nowhere else. Her teaching won’t interfere with other approaches, it simply provides a new lens to play with and engage with as you choose. If you enjoy the miracle of breath, you will enjoy this course.
Q: When I perform, I feel more nervous than I wish I did and it’s getting in my way. Will this help me?
A: Yes. You’re going to love some of the very practical and gentle practices you can do in preparation for singing that will calm and ease your system. You’re literally rewiring your nervous system through this class.
Q: I suffer from performance anxiety. Will this help me?
A: Yes. You are not alone. You will deepen your understanding of how to work with your body in a way that cultivates loving, positive focus on your experience and a freer, easier relationship to breath. In time you’ll find that some of the things that you once had to practice simply become automatic.
Q: I have been waiting a long time to open into my voice. Will this help me?
A: Yes! Keep in mind, this is NOT a singing class. This is a body, movement and awareness class designed to teach you how to work with your body for freer and easier breath and sound. Sometimes when you’re just beginning to sing what you need is to be in a place where you can be singing. Since you’re here, we would encourage you to trust the wisdom that led you here. This course has the great potential to save you some headache down the road.
Q: I feel like I’m getting a little stuck in my body when I sing. Will this class help?
A: Absolutely, yes. This class is perfect for you. You will love the compassionate and inclusive approach as well.
Q: I would like to find others who are on this journey as well. Is there a group I can join to practice and play with this course material with others?
A: Yes! The Center for Vocal Study in Charlottesville, Virginia, the place where we recorded our course is running virtual Freedom & Ease Performance Labs. You can find out more information here.
Q: I am limited in my movement. Will this class be appropriate for me?
A: YES. Ok, so what you need to know is that this course was recorded by a group of able-bodied participants and the practices Sandra introduces to us are catered to the needs of this group. Even though we recommend experiencing this class as an active participant, there is so much value even in the concepts themselves.
The series as it is recorded involves sitting, standing, lying down, some walking, and some turning of the neck. We encourage our friends at home to modify as it works for your body. If any instruction doesn’t work for you, we recommend you observe that portion of the class and learn as you watch participants move. Do not attempt anything that does not work for your body.
We also appreciate hearing from you as you go to discover what works. If you are seated most of the time, for example, you might really appreciate a new way to relate to your legs and feet. If it is difficult to lift or move your arms, you can still explore head balance. You’ll also see that participants self-adjust as necessary.
Q: I am a yoga/movement instructor and I have to use my voice a lot. Is this class for me?
A: Yes. You will appreciate the nuance. You will also like the gentle and natural approach to breath.
Q: I am recovering from a vocal pathology issue that I sought medical attention for and been counseled to develop a new relationship to breath. Is this an appropriate program for me? Is it safe?
A: Yes! We are so glad that you are here! And, we are so glad that you sought the care of a trusted voice professional. We advocate building a relationship with laryngologists wherever possible so that you can be informed about the health of your voice. Proper medical care is crucial.
This online course will give you the keys to unlocking freedom and ease throughout your whole body and this in turns opens up freer and easier breathing. So if you have been counseled to cultivate a new relationship to breath, our course will help your nervous system train those pathways.
This is a slow class so there are no overnight fixes. And shifts tend to happen quite gradually because you are changing the deep, inner-core, slow twitch muscles that govern the breathing mechanism. In our course, you are in control. You are going to love how our focus in this class is on awareness building throughout your normal life.
You’ll be learning something new and encouraged to take time to practice, but if your life is full that’s ok - you can start where you are with activities you are already doing.
Q: I have a voice injury. Can I still participate in this class?
A: If you haven’t already sought medical attention, we highly recommend you do so with a trusted provider. Otherwise, yes. This is an awareness and gentle movement based class, not a singing class. You can participate in this class silently.
Q: I have an injury on another part of my body. Is this class safe for me?
Yes. Any suggested movement that does not work for your body, skip it or modify it in a way that intuitively makes sense for your body. Building trust with your body is paramount. We recorded this class with participants who could stand, sit, walk, and turn their heads. You are the expert on you, and you will still get value even if you modify or skip suggested movements.
Q: I am a busy music educator and have studied voice for years. Is this for me?
A: Yes. The biggest challenge you might have with this deciding to make time for it. And, because these are pre-recorded classes you might already feel some screen fatigue. We highly recommend you follow the class in smaller chunks as necessary.
You might even fall asleep in one of these classes and that is ok. This is a healing sleep that happens as our bodies find new patterns.
Q: I direct a choir. How will this help me?
A: If you give the instruction, “take a deep breath” with any regularity, we highly recommend you take this course. This course will equip you to lead your people with more specific breathing guidance. It will give you a new perspective and you may find that you want to adapt your cues. You will also gain a fresh view on your own singing body.
Q: Is this something I can give to my choir members while we navigate remote rehearsals?
A: Yes, absolutely. Please. We want as many choristers around the world to understand that growth is possible at any age, the body is a sprung system with amazing capacity for organization, and that the voice can flourish with attention to totally different parts of the body.
You might like to consider this course as a broader approach to the subject of tuning.
Chances are if you give this to your choir members, some will love it and some will find slowing down to be quite challenging. We encourage you to encourage them to explore what is here for them and to make it part of their personal routine.
Q: My voice was affected by my conducting pattern and now I’m working with a voice teacher. Will this series work for me?
A: This series will be a wonderful resource for you.
Q: Can I take this course while working with my voice teacher?
A: Yes. You can follow our course while taking your lessons or you can do it as pre-work before beginning with a new teacher.
Q: My voice has shifted and I am feeling a loss of confidence. Will this help me?
A: Yes. We think you will enjoy finding new openness in your body. Sometimes we can get to feeling really down about how we sound or what feels different than it used to feel - this class generally makes that all feel like less of a big deal.
Q: Will this help me find more of my range?
A: That’s hard to say. Everyone is different. What this will definitely help with is finding alignment in the whole body and sometimes that can lead to flexibility in range.
Q: I am facing surgery on a major body part. Is this class safe for me?
A: Yes. You are in charge so any instruction that doesn’t work for your body or feel good - be safe and skip it.You might find that an understanding of how your body works in coordination will bring relief to your overall experience of yourself.
Q: Can this help me feel more connected to my daily walking?
A: Yes. The “grand finale” of this course series is a walking practice. One recording participant said that she felt like she found this place inside herself where she felt like she was almost held up, as if by a puppet string…but without effort. Another singer who took this course at home found benefit in this course after a year of learning how to walk again.
Q: What is actually happening when I access this “space” inside myself?
A: Instead of overworking yourself, you find the springiness in your being – the springiness that you actually are.
Q: I struggle to sing long lines and taking big enough breaths is an issue for me. Will this class help?
A: Yes, it will help you sing longer lines, more naturally, with less effort.
Q: I’m tired. This sounds complex. Is this worth my time? I don’t want to have to take on something new.
A: Giving yourself permission to just rest is the key to all of this reorganization. We want you to do less, too. We’re asking for 10 hours of your life to teach you about five relationships in your body. From there we want you to do less and not work as hard in your body and life.
Q: How fast does this class work?
A: This course encourages slow, gradual change. Every body is different. How much you engage with the material will also determine your experience. We encourage you to let go of an agenda and simply be open to hearing something new. Your body might surprise you along the way!
Q: I am an athlete and musician. Will this help me?
A: If you are already involved in sports and the performing arts (or were in the past) you will find immense value in this. You can use this both on and off the playing field. It will equip you with skills to work with your body in varied environments. It honors you as a vocal athlete and empowers you to understand what that means in the overall context of your body.
Q: I take good care of myself. I’m strong and resilient. Why would this help me?
A: If life has given you any bumps like car accidents, twisted ankles, workout injuries or whatever that haven’t presented in your voice but maybe other body parts are speaking to you, you might wish to spend a little time buoying.
Sometimes we do just fine with those bumps and subtle imbalances...until we don’t. This resource supports the body in springing back into your awesome, open, feel-good self.
Q: I bought the class but I haven’t looked at anything yet. I’ve been really busy. Is there anything I need to know before I begin?
A: No. The hardest first step is coaxing your brain to open your email. Then the videos link in your inbox. From there this class will invite you to an ultimate slowing down in the most down to earth of ways. You need to have a desire to unwind and a willingness to make a little space for it.
Q: When I sing, my breathing is audible. It’s kind of gaspy. Will this help me?
A: Yes. Give it time, give it space, and appreciate the small wins as you go.
Q: I have jaw and tongue tension when I sing. Will this help me?
A: As a result of creating some new pathways in your body overall, your relationship to the subject of the jaw and tongue (and face, neck, mouth, etc) may shift.
Q: I am a parent and I am liking what I’m reading and wondering if this would be good for my younger child who loves to sing.
A: The first thing you need to know is that the younger the child, the less they need this work because they are still active movers and explorers! If you are feeling drawn to this resource for a younger person, we encourage you to trust that nudge.
Depending on your child, we highly recommend a couple of things. As the parent, you might want to invest in and explore this class on your own first (as opposed to sending your child a link for viewing).
We also think it would be a great idea to sit down with the child and watch the first few introduction videos together. If your child shows interest in our slow-roll vibe, then it would be awesome for them to proceed. At a minimum, you will get tremendous value, too, even if you don’t identify as a singer.
Please keep in mind that at this stage of our product, we have focused on content presented in a natural way and not fancy online bells and whistles. Any person, but especially younger people, need to be aware that this course does not involve flashy videos or fancy production. This is a class about slow awareness building. Our low-tech, consciously unproduced approach reflects this value.
Q: Can I share this course with people who are not singers?
A: Please! There are so many people who would benefit from this. In fact, about halfway through the course our teacher shares how what she is teaching about breathing has been used in her teaching community to help a COVID patient recover lung function. We are showing up in the spirit of freeing voices and freeing the songs inside of you, AND this series provides important resources that can help so many people right now who just might want to feel more confident in their breath.
Q: How did you arrive at the fee for the class?
A: We know a lot of singers and teachers are on a budget so we wanted to make this affordable. For the cost of what you might pay for someone for a single private session, you get enough content to carry you through a whole season and save you a lot of work down the road.
Q: I still have a question that I have not seen answered here. Who can help me?
A: Please email Heather at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will get back to you! It helps us to hear from you!