Arley Hughes

Singer / Songwriter / Blues / Roots / Folk

The Medicine in Music

I have been a teacher for 12 years, a lover of music for 36, and an energy practitioner for the past 6. Recently, I have been noticing some amazing changes that are appearing here in the studio in the last year. Not only are people coming to the space to improve on their voices, they are coming to heal those creative places in them selves that have been forgotten about and or lost.

Being a teacher I realize it is not just about making extrodinary singers....its about giving people the permission to actually make music........in whatever form that takes.  I am amazed, and in awe at how different it looks for each individual.  I have actually experienced a great number of people who walk in the studio and start to cry.  These lovely, brave, courageous souls are crying for many different reasons.  Some cry because of nerves, some cry because they have always longed to sing but never thought they could, some can't put words to why they are crying, and some cry because past experiences left them silenced and hurting.  I have come to the conclusion that with these tears comes a great opening, and a healing, that happens for each individual.  What is coming into my awareness is that Music is Medicine and I am simply a guide that holds space, and points people in the right direction to start climbing the musical ladder.....If they wish to climb......

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The Medicine in Music comes form a great number of things, and probably things I can't even explain, or understand as some of it is really none of my business.  I am here to facilitate and to hold space for the growth, nurturing and openings to happen.  I don't have all of the answers to all of the questions, and as such, I stand humbly with every student. Allowing the student time, space, and support to start the journey.  The Medicine is available to everyone who welcomes it in, and allows their heart to open.  

Sometimes the Medicine comes from a song choice, or singing that one note that you never thought you could reach. Finding the extra colors in your voice, finding width depth and range,  or simply just being heard by non judgmental ears.

There are so many reasons why people turn to music in all of its forms. It has the ability to take us back in time, to help us remember, to sooth us or to help us escape.  It moves us to tears, or touches our hearts and makes us smile. It tells the stories we cant seem to find the words for, let others know what we feel in our hearts, and when we participate in it it makes us whole.  The Medicine comes in the songs that you play over and over again because they touch that part of you that nothing else can touch.  

I forever find myself downloading artists that I know are popular but don't listen to often...... I stumble upon some of the greatest songs this way. I load it onto my i pod and walk or run in the neighborhood........There are times when I am so touched by the lyrics I will start to cry........sometimes it may just be a couple of unsuspecting tears..........but sometimes it is a full out ugly cry, tears streaming, snot and the rest because a song I have never heard came on and gave me the biggest dose of medicine I needed in that moment.  I am not yet sure if any of my neighbors have seen me in this state......if so.....I am alright.....just allowing my heart to open and getting some work done. 

In the past six months the studio has also been home to some miraculous, mending musical groups. These groups are so beautifully different yet connect into the same healing quality.

Kirtan which is a group that gets together the third Friday of every month to sing and sway to mantra and sanskrit chants. The music is very easy to learn and sing, and I have to say, I am completely enchanted with it.  Its amazing to see a group of people get together (some strangers and some friends) to simply sing!!!  at first tentatively and in the end with wild abandon.  I observe sweetly from my piano bench perch, and peak through my own half closed eyelids to see a room of people in the heat of singing, with their own eyes closed. Singing from this place inside them that is so natural and beautiful and known. This place that brings us back to our roots and back to our power, and that sweet surrender of creating sound from our own bodies.  This place of being so individual but singing as one in the collective. This place of magic, reviving and healing. The place that allows the body to rock gently from side to side creating movement and curative energy.  Being part of a vocal community that creates space to regenerate, to sing, to cry, to belt out, or to just be.  By the end of the night everyone is smiling and glowing with an amazing energy that is palpable, hugging their neighbor and creating new friends and a new community. This group has got both male and female energy and I love that beautiful combination of both yin and yang.  It really is a gorgeous mix of voices of all shapes, sizes, volumes and colours.

SIREN is another musical group that supports the woman voice.  We meet the last friday of every month to sing and let it all hang out!  The music is selected by the group, for the group, and spans many generations of music old and new.  I was aching for this group to start when the first thought of it popped into my awareness.  I felt there was a need to create a singing group that was non committal, a place that you didn't have to read notes or understand how to read a musical score. this group is also filled with both friends and strangers and by the end of the night everyone is part of a huge musical family.  Again there is much healing going on in this group as well.  There are gorgeous wild harmonies happening and amazingly huge sounds that seem to come up form the core of the earth.  These Women never cease to amaze me with their ability to sing from their hearts and put it all out on the table.  I stand in awe at the front of the room practically  floating off of the ground with joy as I witness the beauty that is encompassed by these wild roaring women. Talk about standing in your power.......these SIRENS sing from a place that created the world itself..........The great Musical Mother that holds us tightly in her arms, so tightly in fact, that the only thing we can do is sing.

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This past weekend marked the second time I was on stage performing a whole three sets of solo music.  I was terrified, shaky and unsure but I did it anyway as I know that anytime you step out of your comfort zone you gain wisdom and experience, that had you not jumped in, there would be no growth.....no forward movement.....

Before the gig I pace around the house nervous, and practically sick to my stomach because I put so much pressure on my self to be that perfect performer.  I get cranky, and I am very hard to be around.....as my husband would attest........errrr sorry hunny...........I crave a quiet order and feel all of my sences heighten to extremes.  However as soon as I step on stage and I taste my first song in my mouth, clutch my guitar and strum my first chord.........I feel everything fall away...........and I become that person that is whole, well, and wise.........I stretch myself into that alter ego.......I become that voice I know so well..........and I am in that instant healed from all that plagues me in this very very human form...........  

The show was amazing for me as I made a lot of mistakes....stopped many songs mid way.......told some stories......was probably slightly awkward.......and sometimes forgot where I was.......but within that three hours of music making there was magic, light, and sounds I was so amazingly proud of.  Even in those very human moments of mistakes the crowd understood and loved it even more.  

I was lucky enough to have one of my students come up and sing a song....and the crowd was enchanted with her.  She is a total natural and her voice speaks volumes beyond her years. She is a perfect example as to why I do what I do......to be that guide......to share and point out passionately the right direction......And this young person finds her way to the ladder and climbs beautifully.....

I was also joined by some of the ladies that are in SIREN.  The ladies sang a few songs on stage with me and also joined in in their seats. They passed out some words to the crowd for a couple of the songs.....and I caught myself practically floating off of my chair......in awe of the ability that a few voices singing were able to encourage others to join in.  As the ladies were singing out in the audience........I again peaked out from my half closed eyes and saw other people........with sweet timid songs spilling out of their mouths.......looking from the corner of their eyes to see who might be watching.......this was something I was hoping for but not expecting.  Strangers smiling faces singing with us ladies on a lazy saturday afternoon at a local bar.  Now that was true bliss for me, as I do know that even in the singing of one note there is remedy.  The Medicine that happened in that room that sunny saturday afternoon in October was stunning.  Well to me anyway......

Some may have not even noticed what happened if anything at all........But I felt the stirring........the beginning.........of something that is so lovely that I actually don't have the words to describe it.  It was so sweetly compelling I had to struggle to concentrate on what I was doing there.....as mid song I would loose my place for the simple joy I felt to look out and see that one note escaping a strangers lips.  That one note that perhaps was not heard by anyone, but noticed by me. That one note that held the medicine for that particular moment, the medicine in the music. 

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