Anaís Azul

Anaís Azul (they/them/theirs) has a B.M. in Music Composition and Theory with a concentration in piano from Boston University. Anaís has been teaching bilingual (Spanish and English) songwriting, group piano, and group voice since 2016 at the Hyde Square Task Force in Jamaica Plain. In 2017, they taught improvisatory sound composition at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee, and have been composing for chamber ensembles and arranging for orchestras, rappers, and string quartets in Boston and nationwide.

Anaís’ approach to teaching centers around each student’s goals and intentions for their study. For composition students, Anaís helps them ask introspective questions leading them to create the works that they envision. For piano students, they provide a theoretical approach that allows students to understand anything from pop music, orchestral scores, and jazz. That said, Anaís’ strong suits are giving feedback on performance practices, mind-body awareness, composition cohesiveness, and helping develop ease of playing.

Anaís seeks to bridge art forms through improvisation, songwriting, and interdisciplinary collaborations, and believes music is a tool for communication, empowerment, and finding common ground amidst war and hate. Check out their professional website for more information.

Mind Body Instructor Statement

Mind Body Related Studies:

Seed Root and Bloom
Rites of Passage: Self-Healer 2019
Xochitlcoatl Bello
April-December 2019
Boston University Arts | Lab
Musician in Residency
Moisés Fernandez Via
September 2018-May 2019
Free the Voice
Voice Lessons
Odeya Nini
October 2018-January 2019
WholeTone Music Academy
Voice Lessons
Nora Maynard
February 2017-February 2018
Longy School of Music
Dalcroze Eurythmics
Leslie Upchurch & Jeremy Dittus
March & May 2018
Royal College of Music (London, UK)
Alexander Technique
Peter Buckoke
September-December 2015

Reading List:

“The Gift of Healing Herbs” | Robin Rose Bennett

“The Purpose of Meditation” | Lama Zopa Wisdom Publications

Video List:

Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are | Amy Cuddy

You Are Here: Exploring Yoga and the Impacts of Cultural Appropriation | Nija Ahuja

Special Projects:

Danse Theatre Surreality: 7 Gorges

How has my mind and body work integrated into my teaching?

Voice and body exercises from Odeya Nini

My lessons with Odeya Nini have allowed me to become a much better voice teacher. Since studying with Nini, I have acquired much more breath and body exercises that I now use in my warm-ups with all of my voice students. One of them involves swinging your body back and forth/up and down while breathing in sync. I have seen this do wonders on muscle relaxation and allows the body to do what it needs to do with gravity’s help. Along with that, Nini has definitely helped me open up and free my voice and experiencing that with her gives me the tools to help others free their voices by letting go of the tension in their bodies.

In our first lessons I got very emotional. I’m realizing that it’s because the body is so intrinsically connected to the mind. Almost anything Nini said to me about my voice after executing an exercise felt like a metaphor for my life. I found the things I took most personally, like, me needing to do an exercise 4 times before I executed the prompt, were the things most related to my mind place and the unfortunate habitual patterns I grew up practicing. These include patterns of self-dobt, self deprication and low self esteem. Working with Nini helped me name the interconnectedness of my mind voice and body and is most certainly helping me free my voice. As tender as I’ve described this process and practicing these exercises to be, it was also an extremely empowering experience.

An exercise I did with Nini was an oscillation of moving from low register, to mid, to high. Through that process, I connected to the different parts of my body that I can fill with air, a connection that was made strong by previously studying with Nora Maynard. This exercise made me feel not only versatile, but powerful in the fluidity my voice and my whole self can have. I learned (and continue to practice) shifting color by shifting register and I am finding power in the nuances my voice can have in the songs I write.

Plants connection with intuition

In my herbal apprenticeship with Seed Root + Bloom, I have connected deeply to my indigenous heritage and that has brought back ancestral knowledge and skills I have been subconsciously carrying with me. The most important teaching I have re-connected with has been the wisdom of intuition.

When I learned that my ancestors used many “weeds” (li.e. red clover, dandelion, nettles…etc.) for centuries as healing herbs, I realized that knowledge came from intuition. They knew that the earth gives us what we need and we just need to be open to see and receive the plants that are growing besides us even on our daily commutes.

Since having that realization, intuition has become crucial to the way I teach my students on any instrument and for any style of composition. I have been integrating more improvisation in my lessons with my students since taking this class and have been able to listen even more deeply to my students needs rather than having an agenda about what we are “supposed” to work on. This has made me more ready to leap into the unknown each day and that benefits my students in seeing a more relaxed demeanor in their teacher.

In April, I started meditating. Thanks to this class, I give myself the time to awaken my senses before starting my day. I light a blessing herb, ring a Tibetan singing bowl, hold personally valuable and symbolic stones, and sometimes hum. Through this daily practice I am learning discipline, boundaries, prioritization, forgiveness and a deeper connection to my daily fuel: breath. Since meditating, I feel my breath is deeper, more expansive and it brings me more peace than I ever thought it could.

I’m not always able to keep my mind clear when I meditate and that is where I have learned forgiveness. I have learned patience, for it is necessary when hoping to see the fruits of the labor of a daily discipline. Meditation reminds me of what’s important. It reminds me to prioritize my health. It also is a moment when thoughts flood in unfiltered and I have to learn how to let go of them and the to-do lists that come to mind. The wisdom of letting go is a gift from the practice of meditation. This has helped thoughts and lists become into mantras and affirmations that keep me centered. This has helped me understand that I can’t have control over everything but I can listen and be true to my needs as well as listen and support my community and my students.

In writing this, I realize my meditation practice has had more of an impact on the way I teach than I thought. It has allowed me to support students in developing disciplined practice, help them be patient with themselves and their progress, and have been able to remind them to breathe.

Dalcroze: connection to sound and movement 

In my studies with Jeremy and Leslie I got introduced to Dalcroze and embodying rhythm. This has helped me especially with teaching subdivisions and maintaining a constant tempo with my younger piano students. I have found it most helpful for piano students because, unlike the voice, the piano is an instrument you are separate from. Movement excercises allow a connection with the sound and body that can then be transferred and translated into piano playing.

Alexander technique and alignment

Alexander Technique has given me the resources to work with students on performance anxiety. It has helped me re-build my idea of “good posture” with a notion that there is not one way to be aligned. Alexander Technique has helped me understand that there is a constant balancing and rebalancing that is needed to live healthily and perform freely on our instruments.

This practice has also made me aware of where I hold tension and of how to see where tension lives in my students (often the shoulders). By identifying tense spots, I’m able to craft exercises to meet their needs and increase their awareness of their body’s habitual patterns.

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