Joelle Danant - Heartful Singing

Sound Bites: A Q&A with Joëlle Danant About ‘HeArtful Singing’

In Blog, Interviews, Mindfulness Through Music by jan_mfp

Joelle Danant

Joëlle Danant

On the first day of “Art of Improvisation” (AOI), Music for People (MfP) will present a session by Joëlle Danant titled “HeArtful Singing Using a Mindful Approach.” 

The session, she says, seeks to empower musicians of all skill levels in their search for authentic creative expression. Activities are drawn mostly from MfP and include guided meditation, intention setting and releasing, gentle movement, and light vocal warmups.

We recently caught up with Joëlle to learn more about her session.

What is “HeArtful Singing,” and what might we expect from your session?
The ecstatic, 13th-century poet Rumi wrote, “Only from the heart can you touch the sky.”

“HeArtful Singing” is an invitation to find inspiration by listening to our hearts and expressing authentically the Music that we are. “Art” lives in the “Heart”—artistic inspiration can be found in the heart. Music expressed from the heart naturally connects us to our true Self and each other.

Music is said to be the universal language of the heart, and the heart is said to be the center for unconditional love, or compassion, and for wisdom.

How has MfP changed your life?
MfP has taught me some of the most precious teachings, from the art of music improvisation to the art of life improvisation—trusting that life’s true teacher is the Unfolding Now—to the art of relating within a most supportive community. MfP is my primary “Tribe.”

Authentic creative expression is the most transformational process I know and has served to bring me to wholeness. It brings me closer to the goal of self-realization, as it allows me to tap into inner joy, beauty, creativity, peace and a sense of being fully alive.

Spontaneous creative expression naturally empties my rational mind; opens my heart; makes me feel fully alive; and lets me enter into a flow of grace, where only now exists. I serve as a vessel, like a flute through which the Life Force reveals Itself.

Authentic creative expression is the most transformational process I know and has served to bring me to wholeness.Joëlle Danant

What are some common myths or misconceptions about mindfulness?
One is that “Mindfulness is meditation.” I intend to start my session with a brief, guided meditation anchored in stillness, as it is the easiest way to enhance our present-moment awareness. However, mindfulness is also a practice of paying attention to our Unfolding Now, whatever we do.

Another is “Mindfulness means no thought.” Thoughts do not necessarily dissolve. We are invited to gently notice their coming and going, without getting hooked on them. This allows a sense of spaciousness and equanimity to emerge. Mindfulness can also mean to more deeply investigate a perception in the moment, through sustained observation of it.

A third is “Mindfulness is about serious thinking and no play.” The term “mindfulness” includes the word “mind,” which may lead us to misinterpret this term as “thinking.” The added suffix, “fullness,” would seem to imply that it’s about cultivating a mind filled with thoughts or reflections. This can sound rather serious, the apparent opposite of play.

My use of the term “mindful” does not refer to thinking, even though we may gain insights from mindfulness and meditation practices, nor does it refer to seriousness, but to the power of attention gently anchored in the Unfolding Now. My intention for offering a relaxed, attentive approach is to foster free play through quality presence.

What words would you like to close with?
I was recently reminded of the genius of David Darling [MfP’s co-founder], through the memory of my first encounter with him at a 1996 workshop.

“DD,” as he is affectionately called by the MFP community, knew that the workshop participants were at different musicianship levels. To help everyone feel comfortable, he started by acknowledging that there were both beginners and professionals in the room. He said, “No one is better than anyone else. The only difference is, practice. If you want to get better at something, keep practicing.”

Then he addressed the professionals: “You have a unique opportunity to be with so-called ‘beginners,’ who have not been conditioned by rules of what is supposedly right or wrong, and therefore can offer the most fresh and innovative ideas for creative expression. Please take advantage of this great opportunity.”

Then he turned to the beginners: “You have a unique opportunity to be with professionals, who have accumulated years of knowledge and practice to refine their artistic expression. Please take advantage of this great opportunity.”

To this day, I share this inspirational approach with both participants and teachers on the path.

Connect with Joëlle at:

Author: Rob Enslin