Photo: Michael Gold
... a few words about music.

Important note: this work makes no medical claims, and it is up to you, dear reader, to use any information you find here responsibly and intelligently, toward yourself and others.

All material ©Sing into Joy

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"Simple Gifts" and the gift of song
November 26, 2020

“Simple Gifts.”  The phrase brings several things to mind:  

·      the familiar Shaker hymn written in 1848 by a Mainer (!) named Joseph Brackett

·      what we all are bringing each other in this year of limitations and loss, balanced by a whiff of new inner freedom

·      what we at Sunrise County Arts Institute and Sing into Joy strive to bring to those in our ever-widening circle

·      and in this season of giving, what we would ask to receive from you if you're willing and able.   


In March 2020 our income, based almost entirely on in-person singing and theater activities, plunged abruptly by 95%.   Our new Sing into Joy initiative is still in the maiden-voyage stage, with much more development in the works.

We’re happy and grateful to have our work supported at any time of any year!  But now there is an extra element of urgency if you wish your gift to be tax-deductible.  SCAI’s long-time 501(c)3 fiscal sponsor, DERC&D, is ending its operations for good by the end of December.  We need to receive tax-deductible gifts, via mailed checks made out to DERC&D/SCAI, no later than December 15.   These should be sent to us at Sunrise County Arts Institute, PO Box 277, Milbridge, ME 04658, so we can get them all to DERC&D and properly thank you.

If you don't care about a tax deduction and would like to simply give online, we joyfully accept PayPal donations at  Any amount, any time, helps us stay afloat and fulfill our mission.


If money is an issue—we understand the problem!— there are other ways you can support our work:


’Tis the gift to be simple, ‘tis the gift to be free,
’Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
We’ll be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we will not be ashamed.
To turn, turn, will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come ‘round right.

These words celebrated the Shaker principles of simplicity and humility, while the tune provided a neat little rhythm that could support the dancing the Shakers included in their religious services.  The Shakers, perhaps best known in our time for their beautifully functional furniture and crafts, were a radical cult in many ways, from their practice of complete celibacy (they adopted children to raise, and eventually the sect ended when the last elders died) to their rejection of rituals in favor of approaching Spirit directly, their completely communal economy—and their unusual elevation of women for that time.


We at SCAI and Sing into Joy plan to carry on for a long time to come—with some simple help from our friends.



Love and safe festivities to all,



P.S.   I’ve made a little unaccompanied recording of the song, and though I can’t attach an .mp3 to the blog, if you’d like me to email it to you, send me a note here.

Tuning Up Your Chakras with Sound and Light
November 11, 2020

Here we are on 11/11 with the 11th blog for Sing into Joy!

One of the ways we can balance our energies is to use sound, along with color, to balance the energy centers known as the chakras.

Much has been studied and written about the chakras, a complex energy system first mentioned in the Vedas, India’s ancient spiritual-knowledge texts dating from 1500-1000 BC.  “Chakra” means “wheel” in Sanskrit and refers to energy points in the body. The chakras are described as spinning disks of energy that run along the spine. It’s believed they should be consistently “open” and aligned with each other, since they link to bundles of nerves and major organs, as well as zones of our energetic body that affect emotional and physical well-being. 

Various modern sources talk about anywhere from 7 to 12 to 114 different chakras!  But essentially, the 7 major chakras along the spine (with the last immediately above the head) are the ones usually referred to.  

I've made a fun little illustration, posted here. The chakras are traditionally numbered starting at the Root (1st) to the Crown (7th).


One interesting explanation I’ve come across for this, is that each of us begins energetically as white light (the sum of all the colors), but our physical bodies would be overloaded trying to process that degree of “amperage” or electrical flow—so just as a prism breaks white light into the colors of the rainbow, the chakras “step down” that torrent of energy and distribute it to the appropriate parts of the body in manageable bites.

I’ve worked for many years, on my own and with interested students, using the sounds and colors associated with each chakra to bring about more balance and harmony.  People have always felt better, clearer, afterward.  Just as there are various theories about the number of chakras, there are various balancing systems people have evolved over millennia.  The basis for the system I use, I learned in Glastonbury, England, from a pair of sound healers there.  Intention has a great deal to do with the outcome, as does intuition in the moment—so I don’t worry about having the One perfect system.


It would be a challenge to outline a “chakra tuning” system in a short blog, so please contact me if you’d like to know more.  Sign up for my email list there, and request an audio example if you'd like.  

To your harmony and balance –



Message me if you'd like to share your thoughts or experiences with this subject. 

You can also ask to join the private Sing into Joy FB Group here to delve deeper. Or just visit and like our FaceBook page

©Danielle Woerner 2020



Singing: A Powerful Mood-Booster for Troubled Times
November 4, 2020

I was saving this subject for the holidays, but I think we need it now, during this week of election cliff-hanging and sobering public health news.

There are hundreds of studies that show the benefits of singing—on the body, the mind, the emotions.  It has a holistic, integrated effect on all these areas.  For today, let’s focus on how singing for even 10 minutes can boost your mood. 


First we look at the body:

·      When we sing, we tend to stand (or sit) taller.  The better alignment helps mood already, and begins the process of releasing stored muscle tension. In the process it decreases the level of cortisol, that well-known stress hormone, in the bloodstream.

·      On the increase side, singing, like other forms of aerobic exercise, releases endorphins.  Endorphins are those feel-good, stress reducing chemicals that carry electrical signals not only throughout the brain, but the entire nervous system.

·      Your deeper breathing when you sing causes more oxygen to circulate in your blood—promoting a good mood and also helping to reduce anxiety.  In a future blog I’ll talk about the vagus nerve, an important cranial nerve that really likes long slow out-breaths.  But meanwhile just try this:


Stand or sit comfortably, and slowly exhale all the breath in your lungs, till you feel empty. Then open your mouth and throat and just let the air in. It will fill you without your trying to “take a deep breath.” Do this a total of 3 times and notice how you feel afterward.  A little better? A little more peaceful?


·      The buzz!  Here’s a cool discovery: there’s a tiny organ in the ear, the sacculus, that responds to the sound frequencies created by singing.  The response, say scientists, creates an immediate sense of pleasure—whatever the quality of the singing itself.  

       And of course, the vibrations of singing travel through all the cells of the body, thus can literally raise our own frequency, and also what we're putting out into the world.



This leads us to some of the direct emotional avenues we can take with singing.

·      Singing for even a few minutes can take your mind off the troubles of the day and give your emotions a chance to reboot.  Whether you do warm-ups and exercises, sing songs, or both, it works.


·      Pick the right song to shift your mood. It could serve as catharsis (maybe the blues or a good crying-it-out song--or a yelling-it-out song as long as you're not hurting your voice), or as pick-me up happy music, or as a calm stream on a meditative lyric.  The words, the music, and the experience of singing something meaningful to you, or something silly to just give you a lift, all contribute to a change of mood.


·      Learning a new song, either one you just heard or one you’ve always wanted to sing, is easier with all the access we have online.  And it’ll stimulate your thinking and memory faculties while you’re at it.


This is a very short list of some ways singing—even on our own, before we find ways to rejoin others safely in song—can help bring us out of an anxious funk.  Our ability to be of service out in the world starts with taking care of ourselves.  Supporting how we feel with song may be exactly the place to start.


How about making yourself a promise that you’ll carve out 10 minutes a day to Just Sing?  BTW, I’m working on a way to make it easier to do that: more about that development soon.


Sing On!




Message me if you'd like to share your thoughts or experiences with this subject. 

You can also ask to join the private Sing into Joy FB Group here to delve deeper. Or just visit and like our FaceBook page

©Danielle Woerner 2020



Voice-Vote for Being an Instrument of Peace – this week’s extra blog
October 30, 2020

How do we speak, and how do we listen -- now?


In the coming days in the U.S., we’ll continue to hear harsh words ringing all around us: the polarity of “us” vs. “them,” the rage and blame.  We may utter some of those words ourselves.  We may not notice a lot of listening going on.  We may be jumping in, or trying to tune out as much of it as possible.  And we can assume the vitriol won’t stop when the polls close on Election Night.


I heard an interesting discussion on radio this week, reporting on a study about beliefs. The gist was that once a person makes a moral decision for themselves that a thing is right or wrong, when they’re exposed to science or research on the subject--which might either contradict or support their belief--they generally don’t listen to evaluate the information. Instead, they listen to evaluate the person sharing it.  If the data agrees with their existing moral position, they find it and thus also the sharer to be credible. If it disagrees, both the data and the expert get dismissed automatically, thrown out with the bathwater.  


The composer Pauline Oliveros, who founded the Deep Listening Institute, believed all sound was legitimate and worth including in our awareness.  For instance, if an 18-wheeler thundered past a concert hall and shook the walls while a performance was in progress, in her view that sound too was part of the concert. 


“Listening is Love,” she often said.


It’s hard to hear opposing views when they are shouted, screamed, and when the shouter is apparently not listening to anything but the sound of his/her/their own voice.


But we can choose to listen in two directions: to them, and to the sound of our own voices.  Not just our words—and there are often words that must be said!—but how we say them. 


“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace,” begins the well-known prayer of St. Francis of Assisi.

“Where there is hatred, let me sow love,
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.”


Can I be grounded and fully in my body—which is my instrument, per the October 14th blog—when I speak?  Can I remember to exhale deeply and let a deep calming breath come in before I begin?  Can I sense my mouth and throat, release a clenched jaw, recall some of the skills I use in singing, to modulate my tone in difficult conversations?


Are we sowing harmony, or contributing to the 18-wheeler “distraction” we instinctively try to tune out? 


Message me if you'd like to share your thoughts or experiences with this subject. 

You can also ask to join the private Sing into Joy FB Group here to delve deeper. Or visit and like our FaceBook page

©Danielle Woerner 2020



SCAI Launches "Sing into Joy" Online Singing-and-Wellness Initiative--and Receives Grant from Happy Vibes
October 28, 2020


 Singing as Your Path to Wellness—an Initiative of the  SUNRISE COUNTY ARTS INSTITUTE, Inc.

Danielle Woerner, President & Artistic Director

P.O. Box 277, Milbridge, ME 04658


Contact:  Danielle Woerner,





MILBRIDGE, ME, October 2020—This spring, Milbridge artist and entrepreneuse Danielle Woerner envisioned a way to do something positive about the effects of the COVID-19 quarantining that descended in mid-March.  It’s called "Sing into Joy: Singing as Your Path to Wellness." 

“I saw people deeply concerned about their health, especially their breathing,” says Woerner, an internationally recognized singer, voice teacher and writer, and the President and Co-Founder of the Sunrise County Arts Institute (SCAI) in Milbridge. “Almost everyone was becoming withdrawn, anxious and depressed because of all the losses,” she adds. “They missed each other, they missed their normal activities—and they missed the arts.  We all still do.”

Knowing that the elements of good singing also contribute overall to singers’ physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health, she developed this new SCAI initiative applicable to anyone.  Through a combination of free and paid offerings, including private lessons, workshops, and events for groups from corporations to colleges to churches, Sing into Joy offers a way for participants to keep connected and healthier through song, while staying safely at home and online.  

The new venture has already received special recognition, from the Happy Vibes Grant program founded by Olympic athlete and motivational speaker Jaime Komer.  The mini-grants, from $50 up to $500, are earmarked for “women-led, conscious, small businesses in need of financial support.”  SCAI received $311.  The program is funded by Komer’s Happy Vibes bracelet business and her public speaking appearances. 

“Our world is so much brighter with Danielle and organizations like Sing into Joy,” says Komer.  “We celebrate the empowering ripple effect Sing into Joy is creating and we are grateful to support with a Happy Vibes Grant.” 

“The support from Jaime and Happy Vibes is such a valuable thing for us,” says Woerner, “both for the financial boost, and the acknowledgement that we’re doing something that can make a difference.”

Sing into Joy currently has its own website, https://singintojoy.orga Facebook page and a private Facebook group, and regular blog posts.  Woerner is constantly expanding the scope of online activities, soon to include videos and a YouTube channel.  Later this month she’ll offer two of her long-successful workshops online, to small Zoom groups: “Finding Your Voice,” and “Healing the Wounded Voice.” 

“It’s especially painful that during this pandemic, when we could most benefit from singing, singing together is considered dangerous and irresponsible, due to the transmission of those fine aerosolized droplets,” she says.  “But this intermission is a great opportunity to develop our skills, boost our spirits and develop a wider community.”

Woerner also gives an appreciative shout-out to the CEI Maine Women’s Business Center and the Sunrise County Economic Council.  “SCEC was on board right away in May, offering helpful weekly small-business workshops.  And CEI has provided sophisticated, highly personalized training resources, all for free, helping us shift our all-in-person work of the past into a new shape for the present and future.”


For more information about Sing into Joy or the upcoming workshops, contact Danielle Woerner through, or call 207-[phone # redacted in blog to avoid online harvesting]

Happy Vibes can be reached through its website,, and welcomes applications for its grants.




Your Instrument? Your Whole Body!
October 14, 2020

Let’s start at the very beginning, as the song “Do-Re-Mi” from The Sound of Music invites.

"What’s my Instrument? It’s my voicebox, a.k.a. my larynx—right?”

Oh Grasshopper, it’s much bigger than that.  When you sing, your whole body is your instrument.  Unlike instrumentalists who can and must project the music through another vehicle, our bodies are the entire vehicle for and the embodiment of the music. 

Looking at it from the fear side, there’s nowhere to hide.  From the joy side, singing can be the purest, most direct and moving expression of our individual spirit and our collective humanity.

This in no way flies in the face of what I wrote a couple of weeks ago, about thinking of our voices as “The Voice” rather than “My Voice,” and keeping that healthy layer of detachment in the self-worth department. (See “The Voice,” September 30.)  If you were a violinist with the incredible good fortune to play a Stradivarius, you’d have to take great care of that instrument.  Your voice, your body, dear Grasshopper, is your Stradivarius.

Embodying our own instrument means several things in practical terms.  Each of these elements, as well as my state of mind and my attention, and what I ate or drank last night, has a direct effect on what comes out of my mouth on any given day.  In later postings we’ll address these areas one by one.  For now, try taking about 5 minutes to do a little inventory and check-in:

·      How am I standing (or sitting) right now; how’s my posture aligned? 

·      How relaxed or tense is my body?  If I notice any areas that don’t feel relaxed, can I release them a little just by bringing my attention to them? Maybe add a wiggle, a stretch, a little targeted massage?

·      On a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being “very tired” and 10 being “very energetic,” what’s my energy level right now?

·      On the same 1-10 scale, what’s my stress level? Am I preoccupied, worried, on a deadline?  Can I focus right now on just this exercise, for me?

·      What’s my mood?  Of course it affects my body.  For now, I just take note, aware that singing for just a few minutes can make a big difference if I’m feeling down. (Yes, there are studies…)

·      How’s my breathing? How deeply and broadly can I feel the breath moving in my body?  If I exhale fully, slowly, does the next breath comes in a little deeper all by itself?  If I repeat that 2-3 more times, do I notice a subtle change?

Now let out some sound on each out-breath.  Any sound will do.  The objective here is to connect the breathing, and everything else you’ve done in the last few minutes, to making the sound.  If you can carry on with that, explore it for awhile, great!  You can lift your spirits, exorcise annoyances or bodily discomforts, feel where the sound travels “within you and without you,” to reference another song, this one by George Harrison of The Beatles.


“My whole body is my instrument.”  And because our bodies are different every day, so are the voices that come out of them.  Every day is a new adventure with my instrument.


Message me if you'd like to share your thoughts or experiences with this subject. 

You can also ask to join the private Sing into Joy FB Group here to delve deeper. Or visit and like our FaceBook page

©Danielle Woerner 2020


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