Blogpost 2 Patterns: Our Necessary and Escapable Prisons  

Patterns: Our Necessary and Escapable Prisons                                                            June 22, 2020 

We, humans, are pattern-makers. Patterns ease the burden of living and learning. Patterns happen in the body in movement. Once a pattern of movement is repeated enough times the myelin that wraps the nerve cell gets wound pretty tightly. Then the action becomes a habitual or automatic reaction without the thought required to trigger the activity. And then, ahhh, we feel comfortable and confident to carry out the task. 

Pattern-making can also be restorative – think Physical Therapy where muscle groups learn new, safe ways to perform actions. It is a conscious process of re-learning. 

Patterns can also become prisons if the process of doing something, or the idea of focus doesn’t change or is not allowed to change. No myelin is spun and there is no fluidity in the system.  The Challenge is to ride that balance of spinning or re-spinning on patterns, especially when current ones are not serving. Seems easy enough. 

So why is it so hard to change?  Here are just a few of the change resistors I carry around. 

The Currency of comfort. Re-patterning requires work, focus, and vulnerability, and I’m comfortable just as I am, thank you very much. 

Change requires a Challenge to my personal authority or power.   I do ______ because my experience and knowledge has taught me, and I am supported by the weight & pride of my history. You can’t tear me down. 

Or perhaps the change is a Challenge to tradition.  Afterall, this is the way we’ve (I’ve) always done it. My personal favorite when something throws change resistance at me. 

Why is it Valuable to re-pattern?  

As we seek knowledge or skill, we are asking more questions and stimulating brain function 

Give attention and focus to something “see” “hear” “experience” more deeply and become more engaged with ourselves and that little piece of the world. 

Strengthen or Modify Existing helpful Patterns 

In a word, Growth. 

With our voices, patterns are learned early and unconsciously with speech, which set us up for wide array of impacts to singing. Pitch, timbre, and emphasis strategies in the speaking voice are heard and assumed in patterns of speech at home or local dialect in our communities. But even these most unconscious patterns of expression can be re-patterned with an open mind to 

Hear what is going on (listen without judgement) 
Hear and learn how to change/make adjustments to these patterns 

As a voice teacher, I earnestly try to encourage new patterns first without “disrespecting” old patterns, and then slowly replace the new with the old.  We get a lot from our old patterns and don’t always want to let them go. Sometimes you have to sit with the old ones a bit and thank them for their service – and what they gave you – attention, notoriety, focus. Then Let That S__ Go if it’s not healthy or giving you strength now.  So, each day of practice has the opportunity to shift the pattern a bit, if we are paying attention.  This keeps us more physically fluid and our mind in the moment, and out of the judgement zone.  Most of the time, students have no idea that they could do_____ with their voices.  The process of self-discovery is a thrilling gift.