How a voice problem led Tina to new depths of understanding
Tina has come a long way from the little choir girl of 10
who, standing frozen in the midst of 2000 other children, mimed
her way through her first public performance, terrified and
innocently convinced that the entire audience was staring exclusively
at her. Now she sits in front of me, relaxed, casual and contagiously
jolly, loved by her students in Auroville and abroad.
“I began singing in my school choir in Nurenberg , Germany
. After I was 10 my parents and I moved to a different town,
and I went to a school which didn't have music. I then took
to playing various instruments from guitar to harmonica and
flute, until at 15 I joined a church choir and began singing
once again. At this stage I started to realise that there was
a problem with my voice.”
Tina married very young; in her own words, “there was no artistic
sense in that relationship”. The following eight years meant
a complete break from music. It wasn't until she split with
her husband that Tina began again to relate to music and became
deeply fascinated by the saxophone. A few months later she
met Holger, and music was finally back in her life. “I thought
that now that my two children were in school, I could finally
work on a career and at that time my desire was to be a saxophonist”.
She practiced the saxophone daily and went for classical voice
training with the best teacher Munich had to offer. “My difficulties
with my voice became more and more obvious, but there was this
inner urge, despite everything, to sing.”
And where did Auroville fit in? “When I came to Auroville
with Holger and my three children in 1991 suddenly everything
broke off. There were no music teachers. There was no music!” Tina
laughingly remembers Carel in the Entry Group telling Holger “Are
you sure you want to stay here as a musician? You know that
this is a cultural desert.” Holger simply answered, “Then one
has to bring water”.
Just after arriving in Auroville a fourth child was born and
Tina became immersed in setting up a home for her family. It
took her a while to take up singing again and finally starting
to perform. In December 1993 she staged a full singing performance
at Last School , which “was very well received, although,” she
jokingly adds, “the frogs were louder than me!”
Tina's vocal problem was getting more and more apparent as
she worked on developing her voice. “I was very close to giving
up singing completely because something just didn't work.” In
search of a solution she went to Germany to find a coach who
could help her in her struggle. Luckily she found the person
she needed, a woman who gave her particular exercises and a
method of observing and exploring the voice. Tina then studied
medical books on voice diseases and later learned more about
therapy from speech therapists passing through Auroville.
Her own desperation and urge to sing pushed her into further
study and practising.
So how did she expand from self-exploration to teaching?
“Well, that's a funny story. I had just returned from Germany
feeling very inspired, and was working regularly on my voice.
Then an amateur opera singer overheard me by chance and asked
me if I would teach him what I was doing. At first I was happy
to have something to give, but it always bugged me that I taught
only because I couldn't make it as a singer. So I promised
myself that I would not become a fully-fledged teacher until
I lost this sense of failure. This was part of the reason why
I made an album of my singing.”
The album was produced by Sunshine Music, the recording studio
which she and Holger built for this purpose in their house.
For nearly one year all her energy and time went into the production
of this album.”It was a unique experience of weeks and months
of high energy and total focus. I called the album ‘Thousand
Miles'and when it was finished I fell into a vast empty space.
There was nothing to do, I had nothing to identify with that
made any sense to me. It was only two years after completing
the album that this paralysis faded and I started to trust
again in my capacity as a coach. I knew then I could return
In Germany last autumn Tina became involved in leading group
seminars and courses focused on opening up the voice, and she
will return again this October for six weeks of workshops and
individual work. “As part of my development I am enjoying this
opportunity to test and expand my ability”.
As for the future? “My current plan is to create a small gospel
choir in Auroville. I also want to create another album of
my songs. I've seen Auroville's music culture making big leaps
over the past years and hope to be extending this still further.
However, my life changes so quickly that whenever I make plans
I have no time to fulfill them. Life is overtaking them all
the time. I'm now in a phase of exchange with the outer world,
focused on reaching people who are searching for inner growth
and opening. My way of teaching uses singing as a medium to
improve self-observation and self-acceptance, thus building
a bridge between the old life of suffering and despair and
a new depth and understanding.
“I personally missed someone who could have taught me to sing
a scale with the joy of singing a melody, a song. When I learnt,
a scale was something boring I had to practice again and again
as a duty. If I can give people the love of filling each note
with life and energy by revealing some inner truth, then that
makes my work worthwhile”.