Sally Ann Rhodes Ahner passed away in her home in Nashville, Tennessee on Tuesday, August 1, 2023. Born on July 11, 1948, in Christiansburg, Virginia, Sally was a woman of many labels – empathic teacher, healer, generous friend, skilled vocalist, piano virtuoso, dedicated aunt – whose impact on others far exceeded any categorization. She was a source of love, support, healing, and guidance for her ever-expanding community of students, friends, colleagues, and family. A graduate of Salem College in Winston-Salem, NC with a Bachelor’s in music and of Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, with a Master’s in Music Theory, Sally taught students of all levels and spent over 30 years on the faculty of Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University. Her use of Alexander Technique and Healing Touch in her teaching changed the musical lives of many students and helped people discover and become who they truly are. She nurtured her passion and gift for painting at Art & Soul, in whose community she found inspiration and acceptance. In 1975, she found her spiritual home at West End United Methodist Church, where she was an active member: she served on committees, led Taizé-style services once a month, and composed the music for the communion service the church has been using for over 40 years. Sally believed in and experienced the Divine; it shaped her life and her outlook, and she extended the power of sacred healing to others.
When Sally received her cancer diagnosis in October 2020, she began an online journal at CaringBridge.org; she started each entry with “Dearly Belovèds” and, through her shared writing, gathered around herself a community of support and love that would carry her through her treatment and up until days before her death. She eventually ended each journal entry with the phrase “In the Great Love,” and – as many people shared on her Zoom 75th birthday party – that’s who and how she was. Sally’s presence in others’ lives was a life-changing balm, an ever-growing wellspring of love.
She was preceded in death by her father, Alan Lockwood Rhodes, and her mother, Frances Hypes Rhodes. She is survived by her siblings, Harry S. Rhodes (Becky) and Clifton E. Rhodes (Lynette), her six nieces and nephews, and her seven grand nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be sent to Alive Hospice (www.alivehospice.org), Art & Soul (www.artandsoulnashville.com), or West End United Methodist. A memorial service will be held at West End United Methodist Church on Saturday, August 12, 2023 at 1 pm followed by visitation at the church.
What I Offer
Who Can Benefit
How I Work
Know Your Teacher/Guide
My work focuses on helping people discover and become who they truly are. I offer a safe and supportive environment for this self-discovery which leads to truth and freedom.
In pre-pandemic times, my classes at the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University and my group and private lessons were in-person, hands-on. While the coronvirus is so active, I have switched mainly to Zoom lessons, which have proven to be amazingly effective. This also offers people who live a distance from Nashville, Tennessee to study.
Among the modalities I employ in helping people discover who they really are is the Alexander Technique. The Technique helps ease and freedom happen in sometimes amazing ways, and I also use other tools, often in combination with Alexander’s work.
Music has been my passion and the focus of my teaching for over 30 years. My own training was in piano, organ, voice, and theory, and I have worked in the church and in the academic arena as teacher, conductor, and performer
Although my musical training was classical, my musical tastes include many popular and folk genres. As a teacher of the Alexander Technique, I have worked with singers and instrumentalists from many musical traditions.
My workshop Finding Your Voice uses the singing and speaking voice as a way of self-expression and self-discovery, and as an entry into your deepest Self.
I draw on my experience as a performing artist and my knowledge of the Alexander Technique to help other musicians decrease or eliminate performance anxiety and to prevent or heal from performance-related injuries. In the process, many find they are Moving to the Next Level of Mastery.
My own Sacred Journey has led me to explore healing and spirituality in many ways. The is the "beyond," the metaphysical, dimension of our work together.
Spiritual Healing through Energy Work is a term I use to refer to my work in balancing and clearing a person’s energy field. My training has been in methods of Healing Touch © and through study in the Barbara Brennan tradition at The Estuary in Nashville. Energy Work often has a restorative and revelatory effect not achieved by other means. It can open whole new realms of experience, and lead to a greater sense of the Divine in all things.
Spiritual Direction or Guidance is a path of special help to me and to others. Guidance has come to me in varied ways, but mainly through the writers of books and through my "mystery school" experience at Arunima Orr's Art & Soul. In that community and with the process she guided in us, I learned to let my Self paint from within, making images that were often archetypal and then letting the painting "speak to me."
In that and various other ways I have found that archetypes, story, and myth shape our lives in many ways, although we are usually unaware of the extent of their influence. Discovering our formative stories is crucial to knowing our True Selves because the archetypes from these stories are powerful agents at work within.
Finally, The Language of Emotions by Karla McLaren has influenced me and my work in profound ways. Using my empathic skills to help you untangle from emotional ensnarement helps you to get the message the emotions are trying to convey, and thus honors these often mystifying energies for their role in making us safe and whole.
Training and education:
ATI-certified teacher of the Alexander Technique
— teacher training at the Alexander Alliance in Philadelphia, Bruce and Martha Fertman, directors
Feldenkrais courses (online study) with Lavinia Plonka
Auric Healing graduate of the School of Healing Arts (Nashville, TN) and ordained minister in The Estuary, a non-denominational, non-creedal church
The Franz Schubert Institut (Baden-bei-Wien, Austria)
for German Lieder study (diploma)
Vanderbilt University Graduate School (Religion) study
M.A., Eastman School of Music
B.A., Salem College (Winston-Salem, NC)
Individual and Group Lessons
Note: I am teaching online during the pandemic restrictions. These lessons are highly effective though different from in-person, hands-on lessons in some indefinable way. I hope to offer in-person lessons as soon as the pandemic recedes to a safe level.
Individual and group lessons are available for the following:
Moving to the Next Level of Mastery
Finding Your Voice
Individual lessons may be 30, 45, or 60 minutes long. They may be scheduled weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or as schedules permit.
Group lessons may consist of as few as 2 students or as many as 8. They are usually 60–75 minutes long, depending upon the number in the group. The fee for each student is less than for individual lessons, and learning in a group can be stimulating and fun.
A Taste of the Technique:
Bodymapping and the Alexander Technique
As a performer and teacher, I enjoy bringing this work to groups in a workshop setting. I have offered this introductory workshop to such groups as music departments in academic institutions, professional musicians in a symphony orchestra, actors in a company, and equestrians at a barn.
Since the Alexander technique is such fundamental learning, it can apply to any activity, and in my classes at Vanderbilt University, I teach all kinds of athletes as well as performing artists and students from the general population. Office workers—particularly those who use computers a lot—are also prime candidates for learning how to do their work with less pain and tension, more ease and freedom. As a “byproduct” of this learning, no matter the discipline, productivity and creativity both increase!
If you have a group that you think might benefit from this mode of self-discovery, please contact me for further information.
Moving to the Next Level of Mastery
One of my great joys as a teacher is to help artists achieve their optimal capacity for artistic expression.
Performing artists—musicians, actors, and dancers—often reach a point in their growth where improvement seems to stall and level off. Yet there also is the desire and possibility for more growth and mastery.
No matter your level at present, if you want to improve in some tangible way, you can. The solution is not MORE of something—more practice, more instruction, more skill or strength—but actually LESS of something—less getting in your own way through old habits of thinking and moving.
When I work with musicians in particular, I not only bring my skill as a teacher of the Alexander Technique, but also my years of being a highly trained musician and performer myself.
For actors, the technique offers a way to embody the character you are portraying, to improve your voice production, and to give your stage movement more expressivity. The poise with which you appear on stage increases.
For dancers, freeing the bodymind from old habits of thinking and moving results in the unleashing of the grace and power of your performance. Your dancing becomes more expressive and even less painful.