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Entrainment and Individuation

Dear Beloved Voicers,

Irrational Sound was a profound experience for me! The freedom to express that which we dare not in spoken word was a transformative experience for many attendees. This theme will return!

I feel so much gratitude for your showing up with your presence, courage, truth, creativity and all the things that were running through you in this class. I love it when I teach a class and walk out having learned so much from the students – your insights and perceptions were wise and illuminating.

One of the sweet elements of making music with others is that we get to stay connected internally while holding presence and joining others. Engaging in similar movements or sounds, mirroring and responding, activates our entrainment capacity.

Lynne McTaggart, author of The Intention Experiment says “our brains are copycats”. When one person is sending focused attention to the others, their brains appear to become entrained. Entrainment is a term in physics, which means that two oscillating systems fall into synchrony. It was coined by a Dutch mathematician in the 1,600’s after discovering that two of his clocks with pendulums, standing in close approximation to each other, had begun to swing in unison. Even while toying with starting them at different times, they would eventually sync.

Many of us have felt an alignment with another that caused us to experience a kind of un-intentional merging. A positive “resonance”, if you will. Recently, I subconsciously mirrored my mother’s limp, despite not having one myself, reflecting our deep connection, especially poignant on Mother’s Day.

On the other side of the coin, we also have the experience where we feel misalignment with people we are in proximity with. We get “rubbed the wrong way” by another. We disagree with their perceptions, energy, emotional expression, beliefs – or our perceptions of them if we do not inquire. From the perspective of an idealist (who me?) we might hold that togetherness is superior to disconnection – yet our inner aversions are both complex and necessary. They are often signals of when things “just don’t feel quite right” and ignoring these signals can be counterproductive to our well-being. Sometimes they are caused by triggers of old memories. It is important to distinguish.


In a collective environment, fostering rhythmic and tonal synchronization is advantageous, as it encourages a cooperative entrainment conducive to group harmony. Those familiar with my teaching style know that I embrace chaos. I intentionally create room for it, recognizing that in the same way that familiar tonalities can be limiting, so can the withholding of intense emotions – and the urge to merge is both natural and requires awareness. Musically, a deviation from the expected path is both refreshing and interesting.

The dance of relational exploration continues friends! Let us gather and play with, be with, observe, and find new pathways – both neural and musical – that bring us in contact with our moment to moment awareness. See you there!

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