Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Trying so hard not to try so hard

My yoga guru often says at the beginning of class: 
"When the mind wanders, ask yourself, what is so awful about this place that I cannot remain here?"

Why do we want to be something we aren't?  Why do we work so hard to make bigger, grander, thicker, larger? 

(all those of you still in your twenties, don't listen to me.  You should still be working to make bigger :)

I'm speaking about myself, obviously.  Because I see it in myself, I see it in others too.  At this point, I'm vocally mature, at my age, and it is time for me to own who I am now, appreciate the work I have done, choose the rep I love, and move forward.  We continue to grow and change, but when something is right, and change is necessary, we know.  The time for making predictions about what we "will be" is over.

Part of it, I think, is really that we all have such difficulty seeing ourselves as clearly as others see us.   Which is where mentors that we truly trust come in.  Also, the few singer friends that we feel are really on our side, and whose opinions are grounded enough in knowledge to have validity.  You know how very difficult these people are to come by.

I cannot understand, and never have, why so many people think that they have dramatic voices, when it is such a small percentage of the singing population that truly possesses vocal cords that can support that music properly.  I mean like one in a hundred.  A good way to tell is, of course, what you are getting hired to sing.  If I am getting cast as Musetta and Lauretta, there is no reason to assume that I should really be singing Aida and that people just haven't "understood my voice" the way my teacher and coach do.

This is also where hearing live singing comes in.  If we are not attending performances and hearing the singers of the day live, NOT mixed and edited and perfected via recording, we have not trained our ears to hear the kind of sound required to carry over various types of orchestra.   Or the particular timbre best suited for Verdi, Strauss, Mozart, Handel, you name it.  Singers, when your friends invite you to their performances, GO.  Not just to support them and the organization that has hired them (although that's really important in and of itself), but to hear singing LIVE.  So many of us that are professional singers focus only on our own music and own performances, and close ourselves off to the refreshment and enjoyment that watching others perform can give us, and all that we can learn from it.

Another thing I have noticed are singers who are practically unable to enjoy concerts/operas that they are not singing in themselves.  They are overly-critical of the performers and always hearing imperfection, or sizing up the competition rather than enjoying the moment.  I have been to technically "bad" performances of music that have had some transcendent moments.  But it is sad to see singers who are unable to enjoy music, and instead see only the negative, because I can only imagine what the inside of their heads must sound like when they are speaking to themselves.  It must be torturous to live with that negativity towards themselves most of all-- we only see it when it comes out.

When we as singers see ourselves clearly, and move forward to make the most of what we have been given, free of delusion, we are lights in a shadowy singing world.

By being happy to be me, and feeling at peace with myself, I give other people the space and freedom to do the same.

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