The voices in my head sing opera

In my life, having a strong one-pointed focus is both an asset and a hinderance. Never is this more apparent than during my yearly summer vocal intensives. (Well, that and when people startle me while I’m doing the dishes or reading a book.) I’ve only been at the Napa Music Festival for three days now, but it feels like weeks have gone by. Each 12-hour day is packed with information that my brain is trying to soak up like a sponge. I want to instantly incorporate the new techniques, new singing styles, new staging, new acting suggestions, and the like. Today, in an effort to feel more prepared, I skipped lunch to sneak in 45 minutes of practice between stagings and rehearsals. With no rehearsals this evening, I raced back to the hotel to continue working on these new ideas in my room. My mind fluttering with staging cues, memorization issues, and technical aspects I was seeking to secure, even in my hunger, I began practicing as soon as I made it through the door. Sanity finally crept in after about an hour of duets between my voice and the gurgling of my stomach and I made myself dinner. Still buzzing with explosive energy, I returned myself back to vocal work, although I felt my cords beginning to fatigue. Common sense told me to stop singing, so I closed my music and tried to force myself to do something else; but, I kept finding my brain going over the same issues and same passages and suddenly my mouth would open and notes would come out again. Then I’d yell at myself to rest and go through the cycle all over again. It would be comical if it weren’t so pathetic. 

Finally, I decided that something had to change, so I rolled out my yoga mat and did 45 minutes of grounding floor work to soothe the franetic energy coursing through me. Though it did help take the edge off, my mind is still reeling with ideas so that I can think of nothing but opera 24/7. I forget to eat. I can’t sleep. I forget that another world exists outside. I am so focused on making progress that I lose all sense of reality. All I can think of are the voices in my head singing opera. 

They say that the great composers–Mozart, Beethoven, and the like–would go into trances of productivity, wanting nothing but to channel their thoughts into music on the page for days on end until they were so exhausted they fell into a heap on the floor. They worked themselves literally to death. What is it about being an artist that gives us these beautiful bursts of inspiration but also these extreme lows where we become an empty shell of fatigue? I am still struggling myself with the answer and trying to find a middle ground where I can keep progressing without forsaking my health or wellbeing. Yoga and meditation are the only things which can snap me out of these phases, but even they don’t always work their magic instantly. Sometimes, I just have to ride the wave and hope that I made it to the other side. So, here’s to another summer of productivity…with hopefully a little bit of resting and rejuvenating thrown in.  

#yogagivesbackchallenge day 24: tortoise pose. Sometimes the only thing that can soothe my brain when it begins spinning out of control post-rehearsal is folding in on myself. By reconnecting to the ground beneath me and kicking the parasympathetic nervous system into gear, my body is reminded that it is ok to rest and regroup. It is ok to let yourself digest and process the information you are given rather than always having to head straight to the practice rooms to wear down your vocal cords and your physical strength. The beauty is in the balance. 

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