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Week 6 – April 3, Music – What did you learn?

April 6, 2013


This week’s blog starts with the reading Rebecca shared at the end of class by composer John Cage.  I think it captures the essence of what we’re all seeking to accomplish in Teachers’ Conversation (and beyond).

“10 Rules for Students, Teachers, and Life” by John Cage

  1. RULE ONE: Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for a while.
  2. RULE TWO: General duties of a student — pull everything out of your teacher; pull everything out of your fellow students.
  3. RULE THREE: General duties of a teacher — pull everything out of your students.
  4. RULE FOUR: Consider everything an experiment.
  5. RULE FIVE: Be self-disciplined — this means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.
  6. RULE SIX: Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail, there’s only make.
  7. RULE SEVEN: The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It’s the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.
  8. RULE EIGHT: Don’t try to create and analyze at the same time. They’re different processes.
  9. RULE NINE: Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s lighter than you think.
  10. RULE TEN: “We’re breaking all the rules. Even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities.” HINTS: Always be around. Come or go to everything. Always go to classes. Read anything you can get your hands on. Look at movies carefully, often. Save everything — it might come in handy later.

This week’s theme was music. In advance of class, Geri sent the following links to articles about music for yoga:

Class started with Tracy Stonaker leading a kapalbhati breathing exercise.  Some highlights from Tracy’s teachings:

  • Focus is on exhale, very energizing.
  • Intercostal muscles around ribs should stay somewhat contracted to stabilize rib cage.
  • Keep mouth closed.
  • If you’re teaching kapalaphati for the first time in class, suggest that students start by breathing through the mouth (as in childbirth breathes), then advance to practice with mouth closed.
  • Don’t eat before kapalabhati.
  • Kapalabhati is invigorating breath, moves your internal organs, builds internal heat.

Leading into the discussion about music, Geri offered the following:

  • When she first started yoga, people didn’t consider using music, now it’s more the norm.
  • Geri admitted she has a love/hate relationship with music, both as a teach and student.
  • Consider if you spend more time on the playlist than you spend planning the class.
  • Do we want students to enjoy yoga our our playlists? Are we yoga teachers of DJs?
  • Sometimes music can really help, sometimes it can be too loud, or too soft; it’s a very personal choice.
  • It can trigger emotions that have nothing to do with what’s going on in the yoga class.
  • Having music in classes with older students can be challenging for them to hear the teacher over the music.
  • Many students prefer music during class.
  • Music and yoga are a very personal choice – do what feels right to you.

Jill Mokaitis led a discussion about Spotify.

  • Jill creates a playlist everyday – she admitted – she is a playlist addict!
  • Spotify is an app that users have to pay a $10 monthly fee, you download the app to your iPhone, iPad of whatever device you use.
  • Jill posts her Spotify playlists on
  • She uses Spotify because iTunes was too expensive for the quantity of songs she needs.
  • When considering how to construct her playlist – she starts off with songs that have slower tempos and builds, middle of class includes more up tempo, and then slows before backbends, more invigorating during backbends and slows at end of class.
  • Jill finds music on Spotify by connecting with Facebook friends and if they are on Spotify, their playlists will display.
  • In Jill’s opinion, Erica Merrill has wonderful playlists and posts them on Spotify through Facebook: Jill gets lots of ideas from her.
  • Downside of Spotify, it does not have a “Genius” feature.
  • It does have “” and you can download other peoples playlists.
  • Another downside is, if you stop paying your monthly fee, you lose all your playlists.
  • Spotify also has a radio station, like Pandora, which does have a “Genius-like” function.
  • offers free music from live shows.
  • TV shows have great music and you can Shazam the songs you like.
  • Be mindful of transitioning between music styles, like your practice, the playlist has to flow, think about adding instrumental pieces between songs that have a stark contrast in terms of musical style.
  • If there is a song you like, consider looking for other bands that cover that same song.

Stacy talked about using iTunes and creating categories for certain parts of class, i.e, songs for back bends, class opening, inversions, standing pose, etc.  And then she has a library of some she can just pull from to build her playlist.

Email from Kelly Moore:

When I got into my car after our gathering, NPR was talking about a musician from Mali, Bassekou Kouyate and soon after played his music. It was delicious to hear, especially coming from our dynamic conversation about music. I found it to be very uplifting and for the love of all music, wanted to share it with you all. Hope you enjoy it.

Here’s a link to iTunes:


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