a matter of intention

Written By Shannon Coates

On 7th July 2019

intention shapes action

I’ve had the privilege of working one-on-one with Toronto-based Alexander Technique Teacher, Alison Jane Taylor and in a recent session, we talked about how intention shapes action and how, when voice teachers work with singers, we may come out of our ideal balance as we listen because our heads come forward to really hear the singer. In other words, if our intention (articulated or not) is to hear the singer with our ears, our body responds beautifully to that intention and moves forward from the head, leading with the ears … even if that movement results in the body being out of balance.  

try it out: adopt your “habitual listening position” and observe where your head is in relation to your body …

We also talked about ways to reframe that intention and the possibilities that reframing can offer to the body as it responds to that reframed intention.  For example:

what happens if I change from hearing with my ears to absorbing with my skin?  Or drinking with my eyes? Or breathing in through my nose?

I’ve tried a few of these intention changes in the studio this week and have made some SUPER COOL DISCOVERIES about different kinds of perception and around how my body can respond to those different intentions. 

So many of us perceive the singers we work with primarily through listening, which implies using the ears. And if that is our intention then – of course – we run the risk of coming out of balance as our ears try to get closer to the singer we’re listening to.

If this is something you’d like to change, consider INTERRUPTING YOUR INTENTION in some (or all!) of the following ways and see what kinds of differences you observe in your own body:

drink the singer’s acoustic energy in through an open mouth 

observe the singer through the smallest aperture your eyes can make and through the largest

allow the singer’s energy (acoustic and otherwise) to wash over your body as if you are swimming in it

draw the singer’s sound into your ears from behind you, rather than from in front of you

imagine the singer’s acoustic energy is a tidal wave of sound that washes over the front of your body from bottom to top

There’s literally no right or wrong answer here; it’s all about finding more efficient ways of observing the singers we work with while at the same time, changing our own bodies so we’re ever-more balanced and released. 

talk to me: tell me ALL THE BRILLIANT intentions you set in your studio and how they change your perceptions and body balance


ps, if you’re in the Toronto area and would like to do a little introduction to Alexander Technique and movement for singing, you are CORDIALLY INVITED to come and hang out with Alison in August!

(RSVP by emailing coatess AT sympatico DOT ca)


  1. Brian Lee

    Brilliant! I like to “breathe in” the singer’s sounds but this is a bigger more interesting exploration. Very useful!

    • Shannon Coates

      Thank you Brian! So glad you think so!

  2. Eden Casteel

    This is fantastic. I am a lean-forward-with-your-neck teacher. This makes me stop and think!

    • Shannon Coates

      I am too, Eden! I like to LISTEN INTENTLY … and my body helps me out. lol!!
      ps I’m LOVING the difference in my body particularly with the ‘listen to the sound from the back of the head’ intention – totally gets my body into a different space.)

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