Tag Archives: Music the Universal Lanaguage

Humming and the Pursuit of Happiness

29 Jan

Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions. –Dalai Lama

My mother was a hummer. Not the car, the practice.

My mother, Ethel Irene Kugler Adler, was constantly humming around the house.

I would always marvel at her statement to others when she would say with all modesty “I don’t know where Debby gets her musical ability from – must be her father” (who happened to sing with the New York City Boys Choir as a kid).

But I would tell her that she had provided a rich environment of music for me from the time I was born. There were always records – yes, those old “78’s” – playing in what we referred to as “the middle room” in the house I grew up in. I learned how to sing before I was two by mimicking Perry Como, Kate Smith, Bing Crosby and Harry Belefonte, among the others that we listened to all during the day.

But it was really my mother, who was constantly humming while she worked around that house that I remember so vividly. I’m not even sure that she was humming popular songs – she just hummed.

I’m a hummer, too. In fact, I will become suddenly aware that I’m humming a song, and then laugh to discover what tune I’m humming. It’s become a pretty good barometer of my mood or thought process of the moment.

I’ve noticed that kids are chastised for humming. So if someone is humming because they’re happy, why do we need to cut that off? That’s sort of like trying to keep a cat from purring in my book. What’s the point?

ANY musical appreciation or ability needs to be encouraged. Humans have a rich connection to their culture through music. In the realm of the physical, the vagus or tenth cranial nerve makes a unique connection between the brain, voice and heart. So singing, and even humming, can serve as a healthy function.

Music is the Language of the Heart. Humming is just another dialect. If you are or know a “hummer” – encourage them. Who knows? They might just be the positive influence on the next “rock star’s” career.

Or they might just be that which brings joy to those around them. A noble outcome, for sure. 🙂  -Deborah Adler

“Being creative means trusting your inner calling, ignoring criticism or judgment, and releasing resistance to your natural talents.” -Pa’Ris’Ha Taylor

©2011 Deborah Adler. All rights reserved. (NOTE: All quotes remain the sole property of the original authors.)

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Sharing Our Heart Song

28 Jan

This is really a continuation of the previous post at: https://debadler.wordpress.com/2011/01/27/one-heart-song-%E2%80%93-the-universal-connection/

As a professional singer, I’ve heard many people share with me over the years that they didn’t sing in public because they were told that they “didn’t have a voice” or “sang off-key” or “couldn’t hold a tune.” Some people have shared painful memories of teachers or church choir directors telling them to “stand in the back row and just mouth the words.”

I was privileged to have a magnificent music teacher in elementary school, Doralene Davis, then Miss McNally, who took her lunch hours to teach those interested advanced music theory, and who demonstrated that there was no such thing as a “tone-deaf” person.

I remember very clearly one day in music class when she had a boy whom we all considered “tone-deaf” to come to the front of the class. We thought he was in for a chastising, but quickly learned differently! She played 5 notes on the piano and told him to sing them. Of course he was way off key and the class laughed. Miss McNally immediately silenced us. She told us to listen again and tell her what we heard as she repeated the notes on the piano and told the boy to song them.

When he did so, she said, “Did you hear that?” Some of us caught on, some not.

She then played back the notes he had just sung and we made an amazing discovery. The boy had sung the notes in right relationship to one another, but had simply started in a different key.

Miss McNally taught us that day that there was no such thing as a “tone-deaf” person. She continued to work with the boy until he was able to reproduce the first note of the sequence accurately, and once he had that he already had the other notes in sequence, thus sang them correctly!

How I wish everyone could have had their own Miss McNally! She went on to sing with professional touring choirs once we left for junior high school, but then returned as we started into high school and brought a dismal music choir program up to an “A” and “A+” Rating in statewide competitions with Madrigals, Men’s and Women’s Choruses and Combined Glee Clubs. Our musical training with her was like going through a specialized program – mostly in extra-curricular groups!

Singing evokes the natural connection between the brain, voice and heart, which share a unique connection through the 10th cranial nerve, or vagus nerve. There’s a physical reason for why we feel good in our heads and our hearts when we allow ourselves to sing out in joy.

In my travels and studies with my spiritual mentor and Elder Grandmother Pa’Ris’Ha, I’ve learned to appreciate that “pretty singing” is really a more recent development of human culture. Traditional chants of Indigenous Peoples are often sung in a very nasal tone, or so rapidly it can hard to distinguish the words, or in a form of chant.

“Perfect tonality” is one manner of execution that’s come to be popularized as in our pursuit if uniformity and “perfection” – but it’s hardly the only form of expression or the only “right” way to sing.

Singing out is an expression of joy. Music is a universal language, and singing is a universal healer. Singing “in tune” is grossly over-rated, as far as I’m concerned because more than sounding “pretty” singing promotes physical and mental health.

“It is very important to generate a good attitude, a good heart, as much as possible. From this, happiness in both the short term and the long term for both yourself and others will come.” –Dalai Lama

So to all those who think they “shouldn’t” sing – FORGET THAT! SING OUT!


Sing in the shower, sing in the car – sing in public. If somebody looks at you, SMILE!

Then choose to let go of doubt and fear you’ve harbored within you regarding your capacity to harmonize with the creative power-  a power that’s not only greater than your individual life, but is life itself.” –Grandmother Pa’Ris’Ha

©2011 Deborah Adler. All rights reserved. (NOTE: All quotes remain the sole property of the original authors.)

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One Heart Song – the Universal Connection

27 Jan

“Uni” means “one.”
“Verse” means “song.”
Therefore “Uni-verse” means “One Song.”
– Grandmother Pa’Ris’Ha

Many years ago in my studies with my spiritual mentor and Elder, Grandmother Pa’Ris’Ha, I learned about the Vagus Nerve, or the “tenth cranial nerve” which originates in the medulla oblongata, a part of the brain stem, and “supplies nerve fibers to the pharynx (throat), larynx (voice box), trachea (windpipe), lungs, heart, esophagus, and the intestinal tract as far as the transverse portion of the colon. The vagus nerve also brings sensory information back to the brain from the ear, tongue, pharynx, and larynx.” *

This wandering marvel connecting to the voice is also the only nerve connecting the heart and brain. Beginning in the left side of the brain, it reaches the top of the heart’s aorta as one of its better known branches, the recurrent laryngeal nerve, which then takes a return loop to connect with the right side of the voice box (larynx).

So there’s an actually physical connection between the brain and heart that can be activated and influenced through song.

Music, a form of sound, is a vibration. All vibration is energy.

If “Universe” means “One Song” and we add our voices to that song, it becomes the “Heart Song,” a song of love influencing all towards harmony.

Music is often called the Universal Language. In my travels I have personally experienced music’s ability to cut across all artificial barriers of “difference” between people – even language differences – to create a unity through singing together, or just simply sharing the enjoyment of a performance.

But to sing together is especially powerful and healing. It’s that Heart Connection. Music is a Bridge to understanding, to acceptance, to sharing joy, sorrow, Love and the full gamut of human emotions and experiences.

“What we’re all striving for is authenticity, a spirit-to-spirit connection.” – Oprah Winfrey

Sound, vibration and various forms of music can also be effective in bringing balance to the physical body, in addition to the mental and emotional state.

Whenever I have traveled with Grandmother Pa’Ris’Ha, we have always begun our programs with singing. Sometimes in the many journeys taken across this grand country, the group of us traveling together would stop at a roadside rest stop or “circle up” in a department store parking lot and pull out the guitars and other instruments and start singing. It refreshed and re-energized us and as others came out of curiosity to see who were these people singing in the parking lot – it entertained and fostered new friendships.
I have many fond memories of what we lovingly referred to as our “blacktop circles.”

Everyone has a Heart Song. Tomorrow I will explore why EVERYONE should sing -even if you think you don’t have a “good voice.”

We all have a voice – and the only “bad” voice is the once that‘s been silenced!

More about that in tomorrow’s post! -Deborah Adler

“I am an old river and I have been here for too long
to know when I began, and that is not what is important.
Here and in this moment I Am here.
I am old, wiser and have found you.
You join me here in our space
and we now run together,
not you and I,
but we.”


from Visits from Wind Voices from Times Past
© 1995 Pa’Ris’Ha All Rights Reserved.


©2011 Deborah Adler. All rights reserved. (NOTE: All quotes remain the sole property of the original authors.)

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