“I find this whole judgement around where individuals should be at by a certain stage of their life ridiculous. Only the soul knows the path it is here to walk, what it has overcome, what achievements to measure its progress by. Nobody knows why you are here except you. You are the only one that can find that. People judge as though they all have it figured out, but their judgements often just smokescreen their own confusion. are we late-bloomers or on-time growers? This is a personal decision. The important thing is that we keep on walking towards a place that feels like home.” -Jeff Brown
Some days the piano bench takes the place of a therapy couch. As we learn to release deep-set tensions and mental habits which hold us back, we change our thoughts, our body patterns, and learn to let go of our past in order to change our future. In our own time, we make a slow progression towards vocal health, strength, and clarity; but, the body and the mind must first be prepared for these changes.
We all try to inflict deadlines on ourselves. This art form is not easy and we sacrifice much to devote our lives to it. So many times I’ve given myself an ultimatum, telling myself that if I didn’t find success in an audition and land a role, then I would quit singing. I’ve been told by teachers that I should consider a different profession and move on with my life. I’ve been judged for the discontinuity between my large voice and my small stature. I’ve heard many times that if you haven’t “made it” a few years after grad school, then your chances of becoming a professional singer are almost nill. I’ve been told that opera is a dying art that will be extinct in less than a decade, so I should conclude my study and find a new focus. Dejected and distressed, I’ve given up on my voice time and again.
But, somehow, the little successes I find along the way tantalize me enough to stick with it, even when it seems all odds are against me. For who decides what a professional singer’s life entails? Does everyone have to follow the traditional path of young artist programs, auditions, competitions, and C, B, and A House performances? Is the only way to find fullfillment in your voice to be a vocal celebrity and survive monetarily off of performance venues alone? Do you have to give up singing just because you’ve reached a certain age? Better still, do you give up on you dreams simply because you have not reached them in the time frame you had initially planned?
No one can tell you when you’ll be ready to allow your voice to fully bloom: not even you. Without judgement, we just keep moving forward towards something that feels right. We find our path and stick with it, no matter how long it takes. Enjoy the journey and don’t judge the progress you’ve made along the way.