Kristin Hoffman singing the Ocean Song. From Youtube video by David Randle.
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Becoming co-creators in a world of natural beauty
27th April 2014
Singer-songwriter Kristin Hoffmann reflects on the natural and divine inspiration that underlies her music, and urges us to both listen and play to rediscover the inner harmonies that are so easily obliterated by the brute cacophony of industrialism.
How do we restore balance and begin to listen to each other, and the Earth, once again? Can we re-learn how to sync with the rhythm and direction of the conductor's baton?
My love of nature and the Earth started as a young child. My parents regularly took me hiking and I quickly began to appreciate the incredible mysteries and perfect working system that Mother Nature has to offer.
By the time I was 13, I began spending summers on 4-6 week backpacking trips, feeling the power of being fully immersed, and cleansed, by fresh air, mineral rich soil, miles of deep green pine, cricket violins and nights under the magical blanket of infinite star skies.
Through my personal and emotional experiences on these journeys I formed a deeply rooted bond with our planet ... with that bond came an understanding; that we are a part of the whole divine symphony of life here on Earth.
A beauty beyond measure
Our melody, as humans, stands out as a soloist, with the guiding voice and tone of self awareness and creative vision. Our potential, is beautiful beyond all measure.
However, we must remember to listen to the rich bed of harmonies that supports us, and follow the guidance and holistic view of the Conductor. I fear that we have gotten so consumed and entranced by our own egoic voices, that we have become deaf to the music around us.
When I listen to the Earth now, I hear dissonant chords, shrill, out of tune notes, chaotic rhythms and players who have not practiced in ages.
How can we retune ourselves and restore the balance of this symphony before it ends in one, abrupt, loud note? As a full time musician in my daily life, I have had the chance to hone the many different skills that help me to mold sound into the complex balance that we call a "song."
I navigate through the mountains and oceans of tension and release, dissonance and harmony, and shadows to light on a regular basis, listening carefully to all voices and their interplay.
Listening and playing - together
I now know when I hit a note out of key, or when the melody of my voice is not in alignment with my piano. As creator, my actions of "playing" and "listening" are mutually dependent on each other, in order to allow music to flow through me and be optimally expressed.
If I close my ears to listening and just play, immediately, the sonic pendulum swings full force to the polarity of chaos, and my song pours out as a mindless jumble of notes.
If I only listen, without playing, music remains solely a possibility in space, a quantum physicist's dream, never known to this world. I must continuously listen and play, play and listen, listen and play, to truly find my way with sound and grow as a colorful, vibrant and developed composer.
We must all become co-creators
You may or may not play an instrument in your daily life, have any knowledge of music, or dare to sing an actual tune outside of the shower ... but each one of us is a musician and co-creator in the "Symphony of Life" here on Earth, every single day.
We all must learn to hone our skills of both "playing and listening" in order for our collective song to come through in all of its brilliance. As I look at modern society, I hear a greedy, screeching, atonal song.
But all too often, we act as destroyers
I see that we are "playing and playing and playing", never stopping to reflect on the way our own, brash notes affect the symphony, nor hearing the melodies of neighbors, creatures, trees, oceans, lakes, or stars with the intention to harmonize with the whole.
We act like undefeatable gods as we violently strip Earth of her resources and create an endless wasteland of toxic air, water and land in our wake.
Many of her majestic creatures are dying, never to return, her forests are left cut and dead like dry brittle lungs, and her blood has been nearly sucked dry so that we can continue to "play" the game some more.
Meanwhile, ice caps fall with loud bangs into oceans, and violent storms, like crashing symbols, drown us in devastation again and again. The conductor is waving her baton wildly in the wind, shouting out for our attention, but we are so lost in loud solos that we cannot hear anything but ourselves ... and we have forgotten how.
So ... what is the answer? How do we restore balance and begin to listen to each other, and the Earth, once again? Can we re-learn how to sync with the rhythm and direction of the conductor's baton?
At this moment I remember the wisdom of my most effective grade school teachers. By wisdom, I don't refer to math equations or history lessons ... rather the deeper understandings they taught me, through powerful actions, about life and the "art of listening."
When energy would escalate in the classroom, as it often does with children, and the space would become filled with seemingly impenetrable chaos and commotion, the wisest of teachers would not attempt to raise their voices over the rest.
They knew that by screaming, their shouts would only add to the mess of sound and further fuel the youthful fires within. Rather, they would stop and listen with a powerful, present silence. Soon after, we would come to "hear the silence", one by one, cease our outbursts, and join the listening, until the whole room fell quiet with total awareness.
When the teacher would finally break the hushed air to continue on with class, there was a new sense of harmony and rhythm present in all. I believe this same wise approach is needed urgently, if we, as humans, hope to re-tune to each other, the environment and the frequencies of Earth.
It is time for this blaring movement to come to an end with a powerful pause of self, and collective, reflection. The listening has begun.
Many have already changed their ways and actions, refused to continue playing with selfishness, and are sitting with a quiet awareness, waiting for us to truly hear the screams and echoes of our planet and the pain and suffering we have created.
Feel the deeper truths ...
Our conscious attention is spreading, shedding light on those still wailing aimlessly. Listen, listen, listen! Raise your head up and take in this important moment. Feel the deeper truths calling out from Mother Earth.
Learn to see her, The Conductor, as you stand under blue skies and still have the chance to breathe fresh air, drink clean water, grow food from the soil, climb mountains and reflect on the view. She is beckoning for your attention. She is looking you deep in the eyes and saying, "Be Ready!"
The next movement of our symphony is about to begin. This time, as we raise our bows to sing on the strings of life, we can do so together, in harmony, with a continuous flow of conscious attention ... listening and playing, playing and listening, listening and playing.
Kristin Hoffmann is a singer / songwriter based in New York City. She grew up studying classical piano, opera, guitar and composition, and attended the Juilliard pre-college program. Kristin has performed her music at many venues in NYC and toured with The Wallflowers and Tina Dico, as well as opening for Brandi Carlile, Feist, Howie Day, Dar Williams, Richie Havens and Ben Lee. She was signed by both Capitol Records and Interscope Records and currently has her own indie label, Starr Records. She has performed at the Sundance Film Festival and her songs have been featured on several television shows, among them Dawson's Creek, Palmetto Pointe and The Young and the Restless.
Kristin is also a musical spokesperson for ocean awareness and conservation, with her "Song for the Ocean" (see above) and has recently released a music video of the song, created with the videographer, environmentalist and founder of Global Classroom, Colin Garland. She has written more than 150 songs for health-challenged children as a writer / producer for Songs of Love, a non-profit organization.
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