Prompt 68: Give it away.


This week, I came across an intriguing suggestion in a book by the Buddhist teacher Ken McLeod:

“How do you practice generosity? Once a day, give something you own to someone else. You may give a paperclip or a flower, but the object has to be physical and it has to be yours. It may be expensive or inconsequential. It may be old or new. But it has to be yours.”

This struck a nerve. For the last week, I’ve been recovering from a virus. I’ve had little voice, and almost no energy or desire to sing. At times it’s felt like I really lost the thread. This happens to us. We feel a natural ebbing of our own personal desire or ability — and hurtle into questioning the whole enterprise.

One way to find perspective again: Sing to give. Let the act of giving fill you up again. So here’s your prompt this week: Sing a song for someone else. Go ahead — give it away. 

Prompt 67: Your Perfect Day

Image credit:

Image credit:

Perhaps some of you are not like the present author, and do not long for your proverbial “Ship” to “Come In.” Perhaps you’ve already, long ago realized what many of us have yet to learn: that we can choose our lives, and that there are steps that are entirely in our control that can move us closer to the lives we would choose. Perhaps you already live the life you want, daily.

But for the rest of us…

There’s a thought-experiment called “Your Perfect Day” that’s used in goal-planning and job interviews. Let’s do it this weekend: envision what your, personal “perfect” daily routine would be, if you could do whatever you want and money were (for some reason) no object. Take it step-by-step: where (and, if applicable, with whom) would you wake up? What would you do? Meals, of course, would be some part of it; what would you eat, and how would it be prepared? Do you exercise, and if so, how? What do you fill your time with? Where do you go, what (or whom) do you see, and what do you do? Finally, when bedtime comes, how does Your Perfect Day conclude?

Your Prompt: Imagine that your ship has long since come in, and you are in your 1000th day (or thereabouts) of your “perfect days” routine. And, if we know you at all, we suppose that your day includes at least a little singing. Sing for us the song of that day. (more…)

Prompt 66: Still With Us!

47697387.cachedAint it good to be alive?

If you’re reading this, guess who is still with us? As of this writing: Keith Richards, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Geddy Lee, Bobby McFerrin, Jon Hendricks, Ozzy Osbourne, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and Bob Dylan, you, and me—to name a few.

There’s a sad-but-true phenomenon that the popularity of an artist tends to spike for a short while after their death. Suddenly, we seem to remember how much their work meant to us, and we voice our appreciation and share our favorite links with friends. News outlets write retrospectives. Just about everyone records a cover of that one song.

What would it be like to show that kind of appreciation for an artist while they’re still around to enjoy it?

Your Prompt: Sing a song influenced by a major musical influence of yours who is still alive! It can be a soulful tribute, a cover, or… (more…)

Prompt 65: Gone Too Soon.


Dearly beloved—

Yesterday we lost Prince, one of the most visionary artists in this history of pop. He is not alone. The year is young, but we have already lost many great musicians in 2016.

Before Prince died, many legends had already fallen: there was country superstar Merle Haggard, and rapper Phife Dawg (of A Tribe Called Quest), and revolutionary bandleader Maurice White (of Earth, Wind & Fire), and jazz singer Natalie Cole, and guitarist Glenn Frey (of The Eagles), and mastermind producer George Martin (who produced the Beatles)—and of course, the incomparable David Bowie. All inspirations, all gone.

They changed our world. They died. Now what? Here’s what: This week U are invited 2 sing a soulful tribute 4 a musical influence who has passed away this year. (more…)

Prompt 64: Unique

snowflakeI’m fond of saying this, so now I’m saying it to you, and let’s see where it leads us as far as a Prompt is concerned.

The word “unique” doesn’t have degrees; one thing can’t be “more unique” than another. You’re either utterly one-of-a-kind, there aint anything exactly like you anywhere anytime… or you’re not. If there’s more than one of a thing, it aint unique.

Now, about you: you’re unique.

How can I say that? How can I know that? Seems awfully presumptuous. First off, I haven’t met all of you. Secondly, there are fundamental aspects of the human experience that we all share, so in many of the important ways we are very much alike, we’re in this together—all of us. (more…)

Prompt 63: Body keeps the beat.

We singers often let others hold down the time. In the typical jazz/pop/rock band, the drummer and bassist keep the music churning, and our job as a singer is to soar over that steady foundation. Which is all well and good when we have a band backing us. But when we sing solo, who will hold down the groove?

The answer, this week, is: Our bodies will keep the rhythm. So here’s your assignment:

1) Start to step.
2) Add a clap.

3) Sing.

The stepping and clapping should feel natural, spacious, and simple. Take some time to let them settle in before singing. They are not meant to impress in themselves; rather, they are the steady foundation on which the voice may ride. (more…)