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MADELINE MCNEILL 

Madeline is an opera trained singer, teacher and theorist within the emerging field of embodied cognition. She also writes original shows with opera, jazz, and choral music and collaborates with a variety of artists, musicians, and actors to explore new ideas about the embodied mind.

THE SHORT STORY

I started college in pre-med, but along the way, disillusionment with the medical system made me rethink my choice. I explored alternative medicine and spiritualities, fascinated but still not convinced. Having completed three years of college, I decided to take a year off. I did a little traveling and after some thought, decided to come back to school in music. I'd never studied voice prior, but I knew it was something I would regret if I didn't try. I was accepted into the music department at Western Washington University. The director assigned me a voice teacher and I soon fell in love with voice training, particularly the discipline of opera.

Despite a tense voice accumulated from years of physical and emotional strain, I improved with dedicated practice and graduated three years later. Passionate to master operatic technique, I continued to study as well as make lifestyle changes to balance myself including changing my diet and undergoing an intense self-massage overhaul which lasted five months. The muscles I massaged included abdominal, back, chest, neck, jaw, and face muscles. I also creatively applied techniques of meditation, yoga, and Body Mapping to further develop my voice. With these changes, it was soon after that my voice leapt to improvement. But there was also an unexpected effect - I began having ideas. I always enjoyed asking deeper questions and searching out answers, but this was different. I was imagining ideas I'd never heard anywhere else, self-generating thoughts based on interdisciplinary thinking and years of dedicated work. The ideas elated me at first, but after experiencing several new ideas every day for months, I became overwhelmed. My old ways of thinking broke down and I worked to build a new foundation of thought, which is now finding overlap in emerging fields of embodied cognition.

 

I am now teaching, performing and giving talks at universities and various organizations. I create original plays and operas with storytelling from an embodiment perspective and teach ways of connecting to deep creative and contemplative thought through project design and collaborative arts performance.

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