About Robin Chilstrom

Robin is a multi-disciplinary artist, vocal improviser and arts educator living in Portland, Oregon.

Learning Curves

Every so often my brother David and I get together to jam.  Both in our 60’s (and middle children), we simultaneously revived singing practices recently without knowing the other was doing so.  I love that kind of synchronicity!  David is incredibly fun to sing with; he’s playful, adventurous and he has the rhythm gene. He can pull a syncopated pattern out of thin air and tap dance his vocal cords through a series of complicated rhythms – no problem. Continue reading


Play is for everybody – not just kids.  It makes us bloom inside with ideas, enthusiasm, courage and wonder.  In play we cross boundaries that tame our everyday behavior and enter a realm of freedom and discovery.  Within the hum and the drum of life the current of imagination is flowing . . . always.  Right Here.  Right Now.  It tugs at dreary moments with an appealing warmth as if to say, “There is another way to be in this moment with this situation/feeling/experience. C’mon!  I’ll show you!” Continue reading

Everyday jammin’

Over the last few busy months I’ve been meeting one-to-one with friends (old and new) to jam.  These duets are casual, playful and unstructured. They flow from the personal energy/life zones we bring to our sessions.  Just as each friendship is unique, so are these musical relationships.

Journeying through rhythmic and melodic landscapes as they quicken and transform, we listen and respond in a circular way.  Some of the musical patterns that emerge become fertile ground for explorative song-making, others serve as transition zones that quiet the mind or help us reconnect. Continue reading

Unexpected Outcomes . . .

There are times when I feel uneasy or uncomfortable and I have no idea why.  I must confess that I often disregard these feelings or override them with a distraction of some kind; work that is totally consuming has been very effective for that.  I’m telling you this because the walk to the edge of my soul has not been easy or comfortable. But when I do choose to listen (and follow) I am always blessed with unexpected outcomes. Continue reading

Part of everything

As a child I was entranced by harmonies.  From 2nd grade onward, my class had music twice a week with Mrs. Smalley, my favorite teacher. She was a tall, stout woman who wore her graying hair pulled back in a bun. In her classroom we learned to read music, traveled through American history via folk songs (remember the Erie Canal?), tried and tried to match pitch as a whole class and practiced singing parts. That’s when I learned the word harmony.  Singing harmonies lifted my heart out of the troubles that followed me from home-to-school and back again. My brain buzzed with pleasure and happiness to be part of these beautiful songs. I carried them with me, humming my way down the hall or on my walk home.

Continue reading


Welcome to Voiceweaving!  

Developed by Robin Chilstrom,Voiceweaving is a playful vocal improvisation form. Explore the site to learn about Voiceweaving and enjoy the posts on sound work.   

Transforming a feeling into a musical phrase

When my feelings are engaged I notice a variety of things. Irritation is a common signal that something’s up for me. It could be a tone of voice, an incident or even a passing thought that triggers the feeling.  Or, I might experience a rush of appreciation in the presence of beauty.  That heart-opening sensation fills my body with energy that needs to be expressed.

Continue reading