It’s a new school year, a new season. We spent time this summer reading, taking coursework, watching videos, or reviewing (a lot of) repertoire as we programmed for our ensembles. We come back to our work renewed, “fresh.”
But is this “freshness” our rediscovered self or a duplication of everything and everyone else out there? Do we “renew” by adopting what others find interesting or important but may not reflect who we are—what we do best, how we most authentically express ourselves when we are in flow, effortlessly engaging with the world in ways that, at our core, we know is us?
I have long been aware that my time in a yoga space has taught me the importance of removing the layers the world has put on us, the metaphorical shrouds that obscure the light and lightness beyond. The expectations, the norms, the “that’s what conductors do,” all the identities that come with living in a modern world.
So when I think of what really characterizes freshness, it seems the only real renewal must come from reintroducing ourselves to our core.
This summer, I finally prioritized a project, a video course I had been asked to produce on my book The Conductor as Leader. When I began to develop the course, I had no idea how this experience would return me to myself, to the passions and curiosities and challenges and hope and joy that I experience uniquely at the intersection of art-making, leadership, and life. I found a voice in those words that I remembered was me, is me. And as I shaped ideas into a course format, I experienced a freshness that was a combination of returning to my core but with an expanded view that reflects the broader perspective I have now. I reengaged skills I have not had time to use (or so I believed) and saw anew, in these clear-eyed moments, my dharma, or unique purpose on this planet.
What is that for you? Where, in the conductor/teacher/leader job description, is your opportunity to return to your core—fulfilling the tasks of preparing singers but in a way that only you can bring to the experience? We all get to the end result of a performance, but what does the journey look like when you are living it from your core or from someone else’s vision of who you “should be?”
I am glad to be back to this blog and invite your input on how this conductor-as-yogi context has impacted you and what you might like to see this year. My initial goal for this blog remains:
In the same way The Conductor as Leader applied foundational leadership principles to our conductor-teacher-leader roles, The Conductor as Yogi blog will explore mindfulness, wellness, inspirational writings, and classic yoga philosophy and practice to encourage readers towards greater wholeness in their professional and personal lives. The Conductor as Yogi is an authentic, conversational approach to finding one’s personal voice amid a sea of chatter and to letting that voice speak in the practice of life.
Finding our personal voice is harder—and easier—than it seems, a perplexing but inevitable example of the “both/and” of life. I wish for us all a season of taking a breath with intention, returning us to our core and finding the freshness that resides there. Take care and be well!
Dr. Ramona Wis is the Mimi Rolland Endowed Professor in the Fine Arts, Professor of Music, and Director of Choral Activities at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois and the author of The Conductor as Leader: Principles of Leadership Applied to Life on the Podium. Dr. Wis is a 500-hour CYT (Certified Yoga Teacher) and a certified Brain Longevity® Specialist, a research-based certification on yoga and integrative medicine for brain health and healthy aging. Reach her at: or ramonawis.com.