Sunday, June 11, 2006

Thank you for the music

Full disclosure: I'm writing this at 1:30 am, my friend Jenny has just left after coming over around 9:30 and helping me polish off 1 and 1/3 bottles of white wine (white wine = no hangover = happy Sunday!). We ate heavily buttered popcorn that Larry was nice enough to make for us, snuck a few Swedish meatballs that he had also made, listened to Joni Mitchell, and talked about singing and life in general. Jenny is a fellow singer and is one of those great friends who can always energize me and make me feel excited about my craft, but also she's just fun to hang out with. She was kind enough to drive to Kirkland for my recital tonight--it's only 20 minutes away but since it's on the Eastside, it might as well be in outer Siberia--and gave me very positive feedback on my performance. I should backtrack a bit:

Since my horrible, terrible, no good, very bad day on Sunday, I have had an amazing voice lesson with my teacher, attended my high school student's recital which renewed my self-confidence as a teacher, and just chilled out in general. I decided to stop being so anal and start experiencing creativity in the making: in other words, to let my singing be and enjoy it in the moment, rather than being hypercritical to the point where I don't want to sing anymore. Because, after all, isn't the whole point of making music to HAVE FUN? I know that's why I got into it, but sometimes you lose sight of the fun in the midst of striving for technical perfection. So anyways, I let go of all that and told my inner critic to just shut up, and as a result I had fun tonight, I really connected with the music, and my technique took care of itself for the most part. And the audience responded--they really enjoyed my performance! More importantly, I enjoyed it, and I had a new appreciation for all the other singers' contributions as well. Everyone's voice is so different and unique, and that's what I love about singing--it's a new and different experience each time, with changing variables. You could have a cold, or be tired, or the room is different, or your emotions regarding the song affect you in a new way, and suddenly the entire process changes. Sometimes for the better, sometimes not, but always a slight variation, which is really exciting when you think about it. Music isn't some static, stale operation; it's constantly evolving, not just with changing times but with each musician who brings their own point of view to the table. So we're always being forced to confront our preconceived notions and opinions, which makes us fresher, better musicians (and in the end, better human beings). I better quit before I get all new age-y, but I have to put in a quote that my accompanist Penny said earlier this week:

"When a performance is too perfect, it loses its humanity."

She went on to clarify, that any performance so steeped in technical perfection ultimately feels disconnected and emotionless, but I love that quote. Because we as humans are imperfect, and while it's okay to strive for perfection in practice, in performance you need to give over to the moment. That's what makes music--or any kind of art--interesting. People don't want to watch someone hit all the right notes, with the proper vibrato, brightness, etc.--they want to feel connected to you, to be told a story, to get lost in a song for a while. And singers who get caught up in the teensy tiny details of absolute perfection are missing the point, and making themselves miserable in the process. So this recital was great for me, as frustrating as Sunday was. It brought me to a new level of understanding about my craft, as well as a breakthrough in my voice lessons, and in the end taught me some (non-voice) lessons about myself. I only hope I don't forget them too soon.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In the time I've read your blog for the first time, the sky has turned from its monotonous white/gray to a sunny blue. You're on your way over and we're headed to the Ballard Market. This can only be a good thing. ; )

Your partner in all things delectable... wine/heavily buttered popcorn, swedish meatball stealing, music and late-night conversation... See you soon! Jenny