Thursday, May 16, 2013

Coaching Team You

I love watching the ESPN show Hard Knocks, which follows one NFL team a year through their pre-season training camp.  Its a grueling process, and many players are disappointed when they just can't be explosive or consistent enough to compete with other stars on the team.  Dozens of players are eliminated throughout the course of camp, and in the end, usually one is chosen for each open position.  It's a fascinating thing to watch, and feels oddly familiar for a person like me who has chosen a path with a similarly competitive atmosphere.  I hate to say it, but I think even sopranos have it easier than some of these players...

What the NFL does have built into their system that we do not (besides the obvious billions of dollars), however, is constant encouragement, ass-kicking, support, and camaraderie.  There are coaches with each guy before every play, in your ear, reminding you what to do, how to do it, helping you to keep your focus, telling you you CAN.  I've often said to Joe-- "God, can you imagine if there was someone who would do that for us that we didn't have to pay?"  How much more fabulous would I be every time I auditioned, performed, opened my mouth!  If I could afford it, you better believe I'd have a person who loves my voice standing next to me telling me how freaking fabulous I was up until the moment I stepped into the audition room! 

Okay, ultimately, we're all on Team Opera, but rarely do you walk in the door for rehearsal and feel the single-minded focus that seems to be present in a football locker room.  We're all thinking about our own voices, mostly, right?  How it feels today, what's happening in there, whether I know my words, who my character is-- it ceases at some point to be a team sport, even though it probably shouldn't.  Not up until a work is performance-ready do any of us really become able to focus on the piece as a whole and telling a larger story.  We have to focus on getting our own stuff right. 

In the absence of a team of coaches standing on the side-lines yelling instructions(or heck, even one would do), whose sole job is to be sure I perform in that moment the very best I can, I've got to be my own teacher, coach, cheerleader, therapist.  In the face of rejection and negativity, and the constant newsreel about our "dying art," how do we wade through all of it and become the kind of singer we can get behind?  

If I know I've done the work, had the right attitude, put in the time, and I'm there for the right reason (MUSIC, hello), I have no reason not to believe I'm great.  No reason not to be one hundred percent in favor of me. No reason not to say myself in lieu of anyone else being there to do it: GO get em.  You are fabulous.  You love this, you work hard at this.  Show them what you're made of.

Let's win one for Team You.

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