As a form of expression, it’s hard to explain the uncanny ability that music has to help us discover ourselves. In Issue 86 of American Lifestyle magazine, we pay a visit to Dusty Strings, a music shop and school located in Seattle, Washington, that is using the power of song to do break people out of their shells.
An excerpt from “The Heart of Music in the Heart of Fremont”
Jonathan Shue is on a quest for authenticity. And he’s coming after your voice—your singing voice, that is. In his position as director of the music school and as a vocal coach at Dusty Strings in Seattle, Washington, Shue views his job as a chance to unlock the potential musical expression inside each of his students. Convince that singing is as natural as breathing, he encourages students to get out of their own way and discover what he calls their “authentic voice.”
One such vocal class is titled “Explore Your Voice,” which surprisingly begins with a drawing exercise. Students are presented with crayons and blank paper and are prompted to draw what they imagine their voice to look like visually. Spheres, lines, and rainbows have all appeared on these pieces of paper. Shue then collects these drawings and redistributes them four weeks later at the conclusion of the class, when the students are again asked to draw how they view their voice now. The initial perceptions are always more controlled, constrictive, and focused on details in contrast to the fanciful, imaginative, and freer drawings they produce at the end of the series. Shue attributes this shift to learned societal rules that condition us to use our voice in certain ways. Shue hypothesizes, “Newborn babies are seven or eight pounds, and they can make noise. As adults who weigh more than twenty times that, we often find ourselves unable to make such noise. Babies’ vocal channels are wide open and uninhibited because they are coming from a primal place.”