Courses, Workshops, Retreats and Private Sessions
These sessions are a culmination of intensive international training over the past two decades in voice, performance and somatic therapies. We will experience the expanding and refining of our voices through the most liberating vocal techniques and exercises I have found throughout the eastern and western world. The foundation of these techniques lie in the creation of pure, natural tone, discovering overtones, unveiling the full range of our voice, and discovering the healing phenomena of coherence through our voice. Our body is our instrument, therefore alignment practices are included that create an open, clear channel for our voice and purest expression. We will strengthen and coordinate the breath, creating a strong foundation for our tone, balancing our nervous system and expanding our instrument. Vocal placement is emphasized, as it is key in creating desired, conscious sound as well as accurate pitch. Ear training and note recognition is an integral part of the technique based work. Methods of healing vocal strain due to incorrect technique and holistic health care for singers is an integral in this method as well as optimal form and function for our physicality, performance and expression. All of the songs and practices will be given in the context of expanding the singer’s range, breath support, vocal colors and textures. Here we discover our unlimited capacity of creative expression, deep healing and wholehearted joy.
Creativity, Focus and Improvisation:
Vocal improvisation can be the most artful and rewarding form of expression for both the singer and listener. A supportive space and guidance is provided while navigating and letting go of inhibitions. The mind has the most profound influence on our voice, therefore we will learn techniques of awareness in order to excel in our ability to focus, and allowing ourselves to open to creative inspiration. In each session, there is the opportunity to release blockages, fears, insecurities, doubts, worries and tensions, while experiencing our true voice, our new potentials and new freedom of expression.
A singer of any style who is looking to broaden their vocal palette and find solid technique are encouraged. Eastern European technique focuses on bridging the gap between the head and chest voice, widening the range of the chest voice. This is excellent technique for any type of singing. In each style, placement of tone varies, we will learn to identity where each placement of tone is vibrating, and how it influences the sound produced, further increasing body and mind awareness. Once we learn how to utilize the various colors of the voice, we then can consciously utilize our full palette for our expression and creative choices, rather than being limited by habit.
Folk Songs / Ancestral Songs
The ancient and hauntingly beautiful songs of the Balkans and the Near East, along with many other ancestral lineages, with their powerful and delicate vocal ornamentation are offered in these workshops. Collected over two decades of personal field research, they speak to a time of open communication between humans, animals, plants and minerals. In singing these ancient songs, we immerse ourselves into the wisdom and animistic ways of our great ancestors. We have the ability through song to not only to transform grief and blockages, but as well the unsung emotions of our ancestors, allowing this energy to be liberated into it’s essential quality of beauty. In immersing ourselves in these songs we can experience the unity within seemingly disparate lineages and cultures, and in turn, the unity within ourselves. The creative process of art, and specifically song, has the power to transform unlike anything else in this world. We only need to show up for this process and learn to open, while increasing our own consciousness.
Eastern Devotional Songs and Modal Systems
Modes are not simply scales, but complete environments in which both the musician and listener experience, each carrying their unique coherence, healing qualities and power. Before the western tuning system became firmly established, worlds of modal systems were utilized for emotional, physical, psychological and sociological wellness. In these sessions, we will immerse ourselves in the ancient modes Turkish, Arab, Greek, Near Eastern and Central Asian traditions, as well as the Pythagorean and Harmonic Resonance series. Near Eastern and Middle Eastern cultures carry a vast knowledge of modal systems called Maqams. Steeped in traditionally nomadic cultures, these modal systems contained the ornate artistry that preserve and evolve culture as ornate forms of storytelling, community building and healing. Sound healing was inherent in these cultures through Maqam itself, as each mode carries unique vibrational properties used for specific phycological, emotional, spiritual and physical healing. We will discover the characteristics and healing qualities of Maqams, learn the fundamentals of singing in these modes, train our bodies and minds to identify and sense their qualities and characteristics, and receive sound healing in immersion sessions with traditional instruments and songs.
Nada Yoga / Sound Healing
Not only is music and sound perhaps the most powerful tool for emotional healing, it is also an optimal way to re-wire neural pathways for healthy brain / body function. Singing is the most powerful tool in the realm of music which transforms ourselves in this process. By cultivating specific overtones and learning seed syllables and mantras from both the Vedic and Taoist traditions in both which correlate with the physical and energetic centers of our body, we reconnect with our capacity to heal oneself through sound and the power of our voice. Through chanting seed syllables and mantra, we create a circuit of attention to anchor ourselves in the present moment, where all healing occurs. Prayer and chant has been utilized since the dawn of humanity to connect one with the unseen forces and the divine into the present time and place for optimal health and wellness.
The foundation for our work lies in the increased ability and practice of sensate awareness and embodiment. In these times of being more isolated from natural world than ever before, many of us have unconsciously learned to survive slightly outside the body, and with gaps of presence of the form and function of the body. Practices for heightened presence, focus and expanding ones awareness are practiced along with the art of deep listening, refining our instruments as artists and humans thriving in creative potential. Our art is simply the end result of deep listening and acute sensing. Through learning these attention dynamics, we are able to bring awareness into the organization of the natural geometric coherence of our body through sound and movement. Embodiment, and the skill of locating psycho-emotional sensory awareness within our field of awareness is fundamental to all aspects of this method of somatic therapy in the expressive arts.
Exploring the realms of vocal expression, ancestral song and polyphonic harmony with Sonja has been so deeply nourishing and inspiring both on a personal soul level and on an artistic, professional level. Her teachings have informed my own spiritual and creative practices with their nuance and grace, and the songs I have learned from her have become integral offerings made again and again throughout my days and nights.Eve BradfordPoet / Singer / Producer
Sonja has always been a source of deep inspiration as an artist and as a teacher. She believes in me and my voice (far more than I do), and her unconditional acceptance, support, and patience have encouraged me to further build my confidence and trust my expression. Sonja is a warm, kind, wildly talented (yet unpretentious), profound (yet lighthearted), authentic and divine being – qualities that reverberate through her teaching and performance offerings.Goyo ArangaMusician / Designer / Performance Artist
I have never felt so much energy in my chest and heart as I have after working with Sonja. Her sessions taught me to forever think of sound as alive and having shape - shape I am making with this body and chest and heart.Jade RaybinScreenwriter / Consultant
Sonja is a gifted teacher with a deep knowledge of techniques that improve vocal quality and foster the connection between body, breath, heart, and voice. She makes her students feel at ease and is attuned to their individual needs. Working with Sonja has been fundamental to my growth as a professional singer.Jeannette FerberSinger
Sonja's teaching is one of a kind. It is what I have been missing since I moved here to the States. In my childhood in Germany our music teacher would teach us songs and their harmonies from all over the world. It gave us an understanding and feel for all the cultures in this world. It was an amazing feeling when we are able to sing a song in three harmonies after she patiently taught us. The sound of our voices gave me shivers down my back. I am a repeat student whenever she comes from a distance to teach.Marion WeaverSustainable Landscape Architect and Dancer
I have always had self consciousness about my voice. When I took Sonja’s class for a couple of months, I was so thrilled to find myself singing in the car and the shower, and eventually in front of friends with such ease. She is not only an inspiring singer but a very skilled teacher. She’s brings everyone’s voice alive like magic. She brings the universal resonance in her singing into her singing circles.Hiromi VardiQi Gong instructor / Shiatsu therapist