I’m posting my Tuneful Tuesday early this week in honor of my birthday—because all I really want to do for my birthday is sing.
I’ve always loved the irony of this piece by Ira Gershwin and Kurt Weill; but I’ve never actually had the opportunity to sing it. I figured my birthday was a great opportunity to remember not to make your mind up about how your life is going to go. You never know what the world has in store for you. I never thought I’d be filling my days singing, teaching yoga, and running my own private vocal and piano studio; but I love the variety, intensity, and joy with which I live my life. Growing up, I made many plans. Some fell through; some were achieved; all helped me to evolve as a person. But, some of the best things in my life happened when I let go of my plans and just went where fate led me. As the character Tracy Lord says in The Philadelphia Story, “the time to make up your mind about people is never”… and that includes making up your mind about yourself.
(To see the video, click the blog title link at the top of the email.)
Happy Halloween you crazy cats.
(Click the title of the blog post to see video link)
This weekend I am heading on my annual pilgrimage to Disneyland to celebrate my birthday. The Little Mermaid was the first Disney movie I saw in theaters. I was only a few years old when it came out and it was such a big deal to sit in a large theatre, in my own big-girl chair, and find myself carried away by the story on the big screen. When The Little Mermaid came out on VHS, I watched the movie so many times that we wore out the tape. I would run around the house singing “Part of Your World” over and over again until my mom got sick of it. Hopefully she won’t get sick of this version. 😉
Growing up I wanted to be Judy Garland. That voice. That style. That passion. Her voice and her stage presence were mesmerizing. I wanted her life so badly. I wanted to be a star. I wanted to be important. I wanted everyone to instantly hush when I opened my mouth. As I grew older, I realized the cost such vocal and charismatic gifts can take on your body, life, and psyche. Poor Judy’s personal life and health were at the mercy of her stardom. The exhaustion of constant performances, guest appearances, roles, and rehearsals literally broke her. Her debilitating struggle towards the illusive perfection, first in her voice and later in her body, forced her to waste away. Depression and anxiety plagued her and she lived in a never-ending state of fear and worry.
During my college years, I followed in Judy’s footsteps. I spent hours upon hours in the practice rooms repeating note after note trying to force myself to “get it right” until I was hoarse. I ran from studying to class to practicing to work to the gym in an attempt to be everything and do everything. I spent countless nights sitting on the floor of the practice rooms or in my bed with tears falling down my cheeks because I wasn’t “good enough”. My health declined; I was constantly ill; and I always had a stomachache from my endless anxiety. And yet, I kept pushing. For many years, I lost the joy of singing. And still, I wanted to be a performer. I wanted to sing. I wanted to be adored and live a glamorous life.
When yoga entered my life, it was a true game changer: not only for my body and mind but also for my voice. I learned not to push so hard and to just let myself be. I learned to find joy again in my life and in my voice. I learned to be at peace with where I am and not play the comparison game. I learned that my identity is more than just my voice and my worth is more than how many “likes” I can get on my YouTube videos. My life has changed drastically; but, I often find myself reverting back. There are moments when I feel that I’m not living up to my potential–that I should be performing, practicing, and doing more. I see the number of likes on other singers videos or recordings; I see the amazing performances and opportunities others are getting and that evil little guy jealousy rears his ugly head. In those moments, I have to breathe deeply and remember that fame is not everything. I am making a difference in my tiny, yet musical, town. I am living a life filled with music, yoga, singing, and teaching amazing students the power of this combination daily. My life is so much happier now that I’ve found a balance. Yes, I’d love to perform more and to find more opportunities; but, for now, easing off and giving myself space to “play” with my voice again and recreate that childlike joy is where I need to be. Judy Garland, I love you and you were an amazing singer, actress, and perfectionist; but, I wouldn’t trade lives with you. I’m doing a pretty good job being me, imperfectly.
Tuneful Tuesday Week 26: “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”
In two days I leave to teach a Yoga For Singers courses and perform with the Redwoods Opera Workshop. It is such a blessing to learn from and be inspired by an amazing faculty and to work with such talented singers each summer. Unfortunately, the program always begins just a few days after my voice studio has its end of the year recital performance, so my own personal practice and memorization time is always severely limited…… that’s why this crazy dance party is absolutely necessary.
I actually learned this technique from a yogi who was working on perfecting her dristi “focus” in balance postures. She would perform the poses while her friends ran around trying to distract her. The point is, if she could maintain her focus through that, she could handle anything. I started taking this idea into my own vocal practice when attempting to memorize quickly. I would stare at myself in the mirror acting as ridiculous as possible and constantly trying to distract myself. If I can keep the words in my head while dancing around the room, then those words are going to be seriously locked in there. It sounds nuts, but it works! It gets me out of “thinking” mode and into muscle memory mode, which is where the real memorization happens. Plus, it’s fun to dance around like no one is watching…. well, except you are watching. Ah well. Enjoy my ridiculousness and try it yourself. It’s fun!
A big thank you to this video of the Watch Duet I found on YouTube to sing along with. In the middle the Rosalinda makes a few sounds which are interesting…… but that way you could hear how the two parts of the duet go together.
When I was a little girl, my mom used to play the piano for me as she told me about my great-great-grandfather, the composer Antonin Dvorak. Little did I know I would grow up to sing his complete Gypsy Songs in Czech for my senior vocal recital at USC and to treasure his “Song to the Moon” as one of my favorite arias to perform. In honor of the upcoming Mother’s Day, this week’s tune is Dvorak’s “Songs My Mother Taught Me”. Thank you mom for teaching me all those songs during my childhood. It truly shaped the course of my life. Happy Mother’s Day
10 years ago I won a local young artist vocal competition at the undergraduate level. The program gave me the opportunity to perform during a gala event along with the winner of the other divisions. When the winner of the high school level took the stage and performed “I Could Have Danced All Night” in her adorable circle skirt and vintage heels, I just knew that this girl and I could be great friends. A few months later, we were thrown together as assistants for the kid’s opera camp for the same company, and the rest, they say, is history. Over these past 10 years, we have become best friends and I couldn’t picture my life without her. I may have won some scholarship money that night, but the real prize was winning a opera-loving, yogi, soul-sister. I love you Miss Katelyn and I am so excited to create new memories with you this weekend and for the rest of our lives…. it’s a darn good thing our fiancés like each other too. Happy Wedding Week!!!!!!!!
Click I Could Have Danced All Night to view.