People always ask me, "How do you find so much great music?"
My response? "You have to learn how to hear."
I feel music like a sixth sense within 2-3 seconds of its beginning. Beyond the linear progression of tempo, harmony, melody and rhythm, I search for music by the way it feels in my body. This isn’t just a natural gift; it’s an ability I’ve consciously cultivated through years of practice and experimentation.
I love teaching Qoya, but what I really love is being a DJ.
The truth is every Qoya class is co-taught with the music. The music creates the vibrational tone of the teaching, because it is an auditory reflection of life itself, from the tapping of rain on soil to the rhythm of your very own heart.
Imagine my DELIGHT when I partnered with my dear friend, musician and mystical scholar of music, Yehoshua Brill, to give a lecture during the first Qoya Teacher Training Intensive I've been leading in Salt Lake City, Utah.
During class, Yehoshua said, "When we're here, we hear."
To be fully present, you must learn to listen. To be able to listen, you must learn how to clear your vessel from distractions. What words, music and sounds pave the trail to forget old stories and which to remember your essence?
Think about the connection between these words:.
Ear. Hear. Heart.
In training a woman to teach Qoya, I take her past simply hearing music as background noise to receiving and responding to music in her body. Learning to receive music deeply enough to penetrate your body, open your heart, and guide you on an adventure in which you go where the music leads you is both the ecstasy and the practical training of a dancer. Once she has gone on this journey herself, she learns how to invite her students to do the same.
Just like Qoya imbues movement with meaning and metaphor, we explore how to receive music with meaning and metaphor. When I select music for a Qoya class, I build the class’s theme, picking music that can act as the vessel for each woman to express her individual story as well. This storytelling starts in the body.
Think about it. Your body's movement. Your breath. Your heartbeat. Your circulation. Your nervous system. Your brain waves. These are all melodies and rhythms that thrive when they come into harmony.
Just like tuning an old school radio past the static for a clear signal, you can cultivate greater discernment in your ears, heart, and body through practices like conscious movement, meditation, time in nature and kind community, and feeling the sensations music creates rather than simply listening to what it sounds like.
In teacher training, we also dance with the idea that "we don't see things as they are, we see things as we are." In the same way that you move past simply noticing music to experiencing it in your body, you can do the same when you listen to other people, hearing their words with your whole body rather than just skimming past their surface meaning.
Here's some listening homework to expand your experience of music:
1. To know anything, it's helpful to notice contrast. Before you listen to a piece of music, set the timer on your phone for 5 minutes of silence. Do nothing. No multi-tasking. No napping. No meditating. Just experience and observe silence.
2. Put your songs on shuffle and listen to one song without doing anything else. Simply receive it into your bones, and let its vibration take you on an internal journey without any movement or multi-tasking.
3. Put your songs on shuffle one more time and this time respond to it through the movement of your body. Dance as if your body is the speaker that the music comes out of. Become the music.
Click here for a playlist to help with this homework, or use any of the other Spotify playlists you find on my profile that inspire you.
"Listen also with the ears of the heart.
Listening changes what we are listening to.
Listening is a craft. Hearing is an art.
Listening is how we eat music. Hearing is how we digest it."
May the magic and muse of music dance with you today and always,
p.s. Retreats are booking fast!
-Central California is sold out
-There are 2 eco-cottage spots available in Costa Rica March 28-April 4. Email Rochelle directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to claim one.
-There are 3 tent spaces available in Costa Rica April 4-11. Register here.
-Woodstock and Miami are now available on the website.
-Bali dates are September 15-22 at Soulshine. More details to be released soon!