I assigned this cute little song to all my littlest students in February in honor of Valentine’s Day, so I had ample practice time on the piano accompaniment. So, I decided I might as well perform this piece myself for some extra fun!
The music man was one of the first community theatre productions I was ever a part of. This song always makes me nostalgic as I look back on how much my life and voice have changed since I was a little 10-year-old running around on stage with jazz hands and rosy cheeks.
(Click the title of the blog post to see video link)
“I expect great things from you” is a statement I hear with equal parts joy and trepidation. This is something I’ve heard all my life and continue to hear, both in my teaching, my performing, and my life. While that is a blessing, it comes with its own set of difficulties. They say with great power comes great responsibility, but I’ll venture to take that one degree further and add that with great expectation comes great pressure, guilt, and hardship.
Today is a holiday for many. The freeways and beaches are packed with families and friends celebrating a day of freedom. Those who have days jobs which they can leave at the office are enjoying a short work week and a long weekend. I, on the other hand, am spending this day tainted with guilt for not studying the hours of music I need to have memorized in the next month. I want to practice. I wanted to spend the day studying, but last week’s laryngitis is still wrecking havoc with my vocal cords and my body is asking for rest while my mind throws a temper tantrum in protest. “How can you rest when you haven’t had a successful practice session in almost 2 months?” my mind asks. “Because I am still working on healing from the myriad of ailments these past months have brought. I’m trying to make you better” my body answers. “But NOOOOOOO you must be better by now. You’ve slept so much. You’ve rested. You haven’t sung. Just get over it already and get back to work” my mind argues. Then my body drops down on the couch, releasing a dejected sigh, as my mind continues its angry diatribe of guilt, fear, and anxiety.
My mind reeling from the simple act of not practicing today,sometimes I wonder if life would be simpler if I stopped challenging myself as a performing singer. I could drink caffeine and alcohol without paying for it vocally the next day. I could recover from an illness without the dread and stress of getting my voice back to full health in a hurry. I could focus my attention more fully on my teaching career. I wouldn’t have to cram practice time into my already packed daily schedule. I could enjoy weekends for rest rather than using them to catch up on my own vocal work. I wouldn’t have to drive 8 hours in a day to take voice lessons in Los Angeles, and I would be able to take a real vacation rather than saving all of my vacation time for training programs.
But then once my mind has had a chance to create this list, a tiny voice whispers, “but then what would be left to strive for?” Yes, my vocal aspirations bring the bulk of my stress, guilt, and fear, but it also brings me the greatest level of fullfillment and joy. I learn who I am through my vocal practice. I find my strength and beauty each time I sing. I am who I am because I strive for that perfection, because I expect great things of myself. If I stopped singing, I would lose the very heart of my being and my reason for pushing myself and progressing mentally, spiritually, and phyisically. Sure, it would be easier to give up. But that’s not what the world expects of me and it’s certainly not what I expect of myself.
So, today, I’ll give myself this day to heal and recharge, knowing full well that once I return to vocal health, I’ll have the drive and strength to be prepared for next month’s Napa Music Festival. Until then, I’ll try to keep my expectations to a minimum and just heal. Not all expectations have to be great.
#MayIBeginYoga2015 challenge day 25 : crescent lunge. Studying, memorizing, and singing music is such a meditative practice. I find myself lost in my score for hours on end as I absorb every nuance and detail of the poetic texts and melodic lines. Sometimes I need a little yoga break after a particularly long practice session, but I still can’t pull myself out of my score.
“Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.
Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates to the strength of Resistance. Therefore the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul. That’s why we feel so much Resistance. If it meant nothing to us, there’d be no Resistance.” -Steven Pressfield
In grade school, as a young singer, I sang with joy, devoid of inhibition, in the safety of my own bedroom; but, when placed in front of an audience, my whole body would shake with an unbridled terror. My brow would furrow as I struggled to keep my voice from cracking under the pressure. I’d wrack my brain to remember all of my entrances and lyrics. Sweating profusely and sick to my stomach, I’d somehow survive the performance, only to go home and fall into a sea of tears, cracking under all of the pressure and tension. The intensity was so great that I threatened to stop singing hundreds of times. During my undergraduate and graduate studies, I read volumes of self-help books: hypnotherapy, how-to books, psychology, meditation, and the like. When it came time to perform, none of these tools helped. I was too afraid of fear. It crippled me. It set me up for failure.
It was only years later, after intensive yoga study, reflection, and self-study that I started to question my relationship with fear. I began to change my approach to the natural adrenaline and “fight or flight” mode and I began to fight rather than try to fly. I started to lean into the fear, to enjoy the extra burst of energy that it could provide, to recognize how working with my fears every day could help me to grow and achieve. In short, I began to be grateful for my fears. By making fear my friend, I was able to control and focus that energy rather than let it control me. Suddenly, my performances were a joyful experience, where I could reach my peak state. I enjoyed new focus and courage in my auditions and flexibility in the rehearsal hall. Everywhere I brought my good friend fear, I found success. It gave me the extra energy and focus that I needed to achieve at my highest possible level.
The performing world is a fearful place. Each time we open our mouths to sing, each time we play a note, each time we get on stage or enter the audition hall, we have a chance to greet our fears head on. Make sure you greet it as a friend rather than a foe.
#detoxyobody challenge day 28: paschimattanasana. Sometimes you need to bury your head in the grass and hide from the world… But then remember to get up and conquer your fears once again.