Class: Solo songs
After 6 years of teaching at Osho Leela we have learnt a few lessons about what makes a successful class. There are some classes that seem to deliver almost regardless of content and others that don’t seem to quite ‘hit’ in spite of ruthless planning. As improvisers we like to improvise certain elements of a class and often things will take an unexpected turn half way through a session and end up in a totally different place than we imagined.
I will admit that the ‘solo songs’ class, for one reason or another, slipped through my planning net and so it was on a beautiful Saturday afternoon that I carried my keyboard up to “Tintagel” just in time for the class to begin. A quick word with Jason and the unthinkable had happened – the class had begun and we had absolutely no idea what we were going to do. I have run solo classes before, but it is always useful to cut out the parts that did not work so well and put in some fresh exercises in their place.
So it was that we started by me saying, “Great, let’s warm up our voices with….” <pause>…. You get the idea. Anyway, half way through the class things were getting a little heavy and an idea popped into my head to do some “Oscar winning moments” in song. This exercise involves playing a scene with 3 people and each taking a turn to give the Oscar winning speech or in this case Tony winning songlet to the audience. Fully expecting lots of laughs and short form silliness we launched in to the commitment-based heightening exercise. So many extraordinary scenes and songs followed that it is hard for me to recall them all. I learnt things I had never known before, and reinforced some beliefs I already held.
Firstly it was demonstrated every time that the line between ‘comedy’ and highly charged emotion is paper thin. So many times we as an audience were invited to laugh at a character’s ridiculous megalomania, only to be flattened by their honesty and fragility. The murderous thief who was not loved as a child. The snide flatmate who was simply jealous and insecure. It seems that at the moment of most intense absurdity is also the most poignant moment to pull the comedy rug out from under our feet and reveal the motivation, the truth.
The second theme that began to emerge was that heightening in music does not have to mean just singing louder. Heightening the emotion in a song means upping the intensity of the emotion, not just the volume. Listening to a frail voice struggling to hold on to their tune through the pain is sometimes more powerful than hearing the belting battle cry of an embittered warrior. Time and time again the most stirring part of the solos were after the sound and fury had blown over and again the truth was revealed, our hearts blown open for a fleeting moment.
Finally this class reinforced that reacting to what is happening in the room as a facilitator is just as important as having a robust plan. An ideal class for me involves having a good plan, but deviating from it when the moment seems right. In this case I may have been lucky to stumble upon the pot of gold along the way.