Blog: Feeling Free

Blog: Feeling Free

February 1, 2012

As February is the month of Valentines Day the obvious topic for this post is love.

However, it’s also President’s month: honoring our leaders might work. But I thought that taking a moment and reflecting on freedom sort of covered all the bases. February is also African American History month. It’s a perfect opportunity to reflect on freedoms and what we might have become had not the American Civil War been fought. It was a fight for freedoms for all people and a war to ensure the unity of the United States. It was a wretched, horrific war and I can’t imagine living through it. Thanks to those that fought this war, we all share commonly in the blessings that living in United States has given us. The cool thing is that we can continue to expand these freedoms through our new challenges as a nation. Not all is a “perfect union.” As we work to preserve these hard fought freedoms, our awareness of what freedoms others lack increases. Our goal as a nation and as humans is to continue this work of freedom consciousness and to the giving of freedoms to each other.

Reflecting on creative freedom, (since finding creativity is the purpose of this blog), as artists in the 21st century, we often take for granted the freedoms that allow us to perform what we want, compose what we want, write or paint in full self expression. There are laws that govern this freedom and allow us to do this, but what IS freedom? What is it about freedom that we are willing to die for it?

Freedom is one of those basic human rights. It is a feeling that allows us to experience human-ness, to retain dignities and human ideals. We respect freedom and the great power it has, and understand that each human contains this feeling of freedom within.

Swatantrya

In the Tantric Yoga tradition, freedom is a powerful step, a tool in the self-realization process. It’s right up there with breath. In Sanskrit, it is called Swatantrya. It’s basic definition means freedom. A deeper understanding may be described as an experience of expansion within, a removal of self-limiting boundaries, a feeling of extending the soul towards god or a divine spirituality, a realization of the whole and being connected to the universal spirit. It’s knowing that you are a free spiritual being with the capacity to extend this freeness out to others. (Remember how you felt when the bell rang on the last day of school before summer vacation)? This emotional freedom is far stronger and more powerful because it contains the laws of the universe innately. It is something that cannot be bound and controlled and forced from us. A society that tries to govern by universal laws is indeed powerful. Our feelings of freedom from within are so innate, so sacred, so universal that they are our very being and as a society we are willing to protect and perhaps die for the right to have and express them. We recognize them in each other; they are for all people.

Aha!

OK, big step further: a few weeks ago, a harp student came to her own realization that she hadn’t mastered her technique enough to allow her the freedom to work on more difficult music, music that she wanted to play and to play it evenly and with a full sound. We worked on gaining suppleness in her fingers, wrists, hands and arms. That was a break through moment in itself, but the “aha” moment came when we discussed how the technique was a tool to self expression. Once she knew she had the freedom to move her hands as needed within these boundaries (laws of technique if you will) she was able to express more fully what the music meant to her. Her self-limiting boundaries of tightness and forcing melted away. It was her connection to the universal, to the feeling of freedom that gave her music expansiveness. She came to subsequent lessons with an illuminated heart full of joy and ease. When I heard her play at her next lesson I had an overwhelming feeling of being grateful and humbled. In a very tiny way, I had guided someone in their realization that they themselves contain their own freedom. I couldn’t be more blessed or more full. Giving swatantrya, freedoms, to each other feels a bit like giving love….and isn’t that what February reminds us to do?

Wishing you swatantrya and always, always love.

Blog: New Year, New You: Begin Anywhere

Blog: New Year, New You: Begin Anywhere

January 1, 2012

According to the Gregorian calendar, these are the first days of the New Year. We feel an obligation to begin again, to renew ourselves, make a resolution, resolving to be or to do something.

Somehow these early days of January represent a chance to start over in many aspects of our lives, with projects that may have begun and been abandoned, new work implementations in the fiscal year, or maybe a “new you” after the December month of excess.

In a musician’s life, December is so packed with unbelievable amounts of much appreciated work that you do believe in Santa Claus. The New Year however can yawn open with gaping mouth and razor teeth. The year stretches out in front of us, empty, cavernous, scary. Not much in the book, few contracts lined up, thoughts of mustering the creative energy for yet another year — fearsome.

Begin Anywhere.

Right next to the harp in my music studio I have posted a quote from the 20th century composer, John Cage. I see it and contemplate it everyday. He says, “Begin Anywhere.” Simple. A short pithy aphorism. A reminder that inspiration and creativity is available to us at anytime, anywhere and with any medium. What is beautiful about it’s simplicity is that we decide at any given moment, with our next breath perhaps, to be renewed. The human brain has this capacity to chemically put together the feeling of “renew.” It allows for a change of thought and a shift in outlook in an instant. A decision to be inspired can happen anywhere during the course of the day. A Roman calendar marking a day as “time to make a resolution” is not necessary. Certainly, it’s important to honor these special days and celebrate time passing with love, reverence and respect, but it can be incredibly freeing to know that you can “Begin Anywhere,” which in my mind, includes anytime.

Carrying daily “stuff” to our place of creative work makes it challenging to do that deep work. Past negative thoughts and feelings bubble up and we wallow in this darker place instead of rejoicing in the creative moment that we are given. By wiping the slate clean and realizing that right now I can begin to express myself as I am, as I have come to this moment – we feel lighter, connected, free and able to do our deeper work of creativity.

When I teach this theme in my yoga classes I include basic breathing techniques within the postures. Every breath is the renewal; every breath joins the body to the light and a closer relationship to the divine creativity. Every breath gives that promise that we can begin with a clean slate and make a closer connection to the creative Self. It’s possible then to begin right now; reading this blog, on your mat, in the car, cooking a meal and playing your instrument. Here’s the moment of creativity, fresh, new, joyous, and certainly different than the last. Open consciousness to thoughts of possibility, and seek the feeling of renewal. In an instant 2012 is no longer yawning open and empty, but rich with new opportunity, full with new possibility and promising endless moments of beginning anywhere.

Happy New Year!

I wish you days of freedom, possibility, renewal, and always, always, love.

Professional Harpist

Professional Harpist

Kerstin Allvin

Kerstin Allvin has won numerous awards and competitions throughout her career as a concert harpist and has performed across the U.S. Kerstin Allvin has received her Registered Yoga Teacher certification from National Yoga Alliance and has given lectures in breathing techniques, body awareness and yoga to music majors in universities and high schools throughout Metro Detroit. Read More

Jazz Quartet

Jazz Quartet

Collins / Allvin Jazz

Truly unique and special! Penny whistle, harp, lap harp, Irish flute, saxophones, percussion and string bass fused in haunting and alluring compositions and played by a quartet of outstanding, multi-experienced musicians. The music is refreshing and innovative and draws from each musician’s varied backgrounds in jazz and classical music. Read More

Arianna Harp Duo

Arianna Harp Duo

Arianna Harp Duo

Kerstin Allvin and Jung Wha Lee met as harp performance majors at Indiana University and became fast friends and concert performance partners. The two harpists have had international careers as soloists, as orchestra members, and have performed many times in the US and Europe as the Arianna Harp Duo. Read More

Harp

Harp

Kerstin Allvin
Harpist

Kerstin Allvin has won numerous awards and competitions throughout her career as a concert harpist and has performed across the U.S. from Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie to the historic Carmel Mission in California. She has frequented Japan, performing solo concerts at the prestigious Suntory Hall in Tokyo, the Nogi City Hall, and for Detroit/Toyota City’s Sister City Association. She holds a Bachelor of Music with Distinction and a Performance Certificate from Indiana University, a Master of Music degree from the University of Michigan, and has done post-graduate studies with Jaqueline Borot, Honorary Professor of the Paris Superior Conservatory of Music.

Miss Allvin was guest Principal Harpist with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra on their latest European tour. She has created and administered several groups, including the Larson/Allvin Duo (flute and harp) the Arianna Harp Duo (two harps) and the Woodland Trio (flute, harp and viola), touring the US, Europe, Japan, Canada and North Africa. Last summer she was a guest artist of the city of Préfaille, France teaching master classes in harp performance, and breathing techniques and yoga to music students from around the world. She also performed concerts for the World Music Festival in Préfaille. She was voted “Best Classical Instrumentalist” by the Detroit Music Awards and is President of High Heel Records, Inc., producing and recording digital music for Internet and CD release nationally. Her latest CD entitled, “An Affair of the Harp,” contains the solo and chamber music of composer James Hartway receiving Detroit Music Award’s “Outstanding Classical Recording” in 2005. She has recorded on the NAXOS label and in June 2009 her recording of “La Jardin Mouille” for the POLYMNIE label was voted the top #1 piece broadcast by Radio Classique France for 4 consecutive weeks.

Kerstin performs in the jazz medium as well, releasing a compact disc of original material entitled “Origins” on JBX Records, securing a national position of number five in the Jazz/New Age category in “JAZZIZ” magazine. She is a member of “Jazz at the Shamrock Shore,” an ensemble headed by Detroit’s award winning tenor saxophonist, Christopher Collins. She has recorded with Stevie Wonder, Oleta Adams and R. Kelly and performed with Josh Groben, Natalie Cole, The Three Tenors and many others.

Kerstin Allvin has received her Registered Yoga Teacher certification from National Yoga Alliance and has given lectures in breathing techniques, body awareness and yoga to creative arts majors in universities and high schools throughout Metro Detroit. She teaches harp at Oakland University and the Cranbrook Educational Community.

Creative Life Yoga

Creative Life Yoga

Kerstin Allvin

Hatha Yoga Teacher – RYT

Beginning in what would become a long blessed journey in 2000, Kerstin began seeking the benefits of yoga as part of a total holistic health program designed for herself. Seeking to reduce the frequency and intensity of migraine headaches as well as balancing free-lance performing artist stress, she began the study of nutrition, supplemental medicines, body awareness, alignment, physical therapy and ultimately the path of yoga, encompassing meditation, ayurvedic medicine, and eastern philosophy. All these practices culminated in spring of 2009, when she became a RYT-200 (Registered Yoga Teacher) through Yoga Alliance.

In addition to her professional performing career, Kerstin has extensive music teaching experience with all ages and experience levels. Her teaching includes private harp lessons, master classes, music theory and workshops throughout the US, Japan and France. She is on the applied faculty at Oakland University and teaches private students at the Cranbrook Educational Community. Incorporating all of her training in the arts, health and yoga, she has been conducting workshops and private sessions in body awareness, alignment, breath techniques, meditation and concentration for the performing artist. She has taught classes at Oakland University, Wayne State University and the University of Michigan. Yoga has enriched her life’s experiences, becoming a natural extension of her teaching and performing.

In the fall of 2009, she became a staff member at Karma Yoga Studio, teaching sessions of Karma Kids and Karma Teens. She studied to receive her RYT with Katherine Austin owner and founder of Karma Yoga. In the summer of 2010, she began teaching and developing a Yoga Family class at Karma Yoga, and teaching Karma Yoga for adults. She is teaching yoga on staff at the Department of Recreation at Oakland University to students and faculty. Currently Kerstin is working on her Anusara Teacher Training. She is grateful for the amazing opportunity to help others along their life’s path of music, movement and creativity.

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  • Yoga Class Schedule

    Basic Yoga Class: Tuesdays, 7:45–8:45 p.m.
    Yoga Planet
    3062 Walton Blvd.
    Rochester Hills, MI 48309
    www.yogaplanetstudio.com

    Slow Flow 2: Tuesdays & Thursdays, 6:30 a.m.
    Ashtanga Yoga: Fridays, 7:30 a.m.
    Fit For Life Yoga: Fridays, 9:00–10:15 a.m.

    Oakland University Recreation Center
    2200 N. Squirrel Road
    Rochester, MI 48309
    www.oakland.edu


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  • Random Quote

    …the playing is first rate, the recording is excellent, and the music is irresistible.

    — Chris Felcyn, WDET – FM