I auditioned for a choir this weekend — but rather than me planning on it and preparing for it, I just sort of let it happen. In the audition, I found myself apologizing left and right — discounting my own abilities and acting insecure and bashful. Asking for affirmation and praise from the auditioners (!!) Singing is really hard work, I’m not gonna lie. Getting put on the spot like that is hard.
But it’s super important.
I finally worked up the nerve to listen to the most recent set of voice recordings I’d made. Listening to yourself sing solo is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It’s so humbling. You get caught up in what you think you sound like, or your perception of what nice (or mean) things other people say about you. And then, you hit ‘play’ and there it is — your plain, unvarnished voice. You.
My voice teachers told me singing is the most vulnerable of the musical instruments, because the instrument is your body. If you’re having a bad performance, you can’t blame shift to the instrument. Talk about vulnerability when performing!
But taking a good, hard look at yourself — a good sober look — is also one of the most productive things you can do.
Because I am an artist. That’s how I’m built. I can’t be otherwise.
Thinking back on how badly I felt during/after the audition; about all the hard things I’ve had to do lately, about all the growth opportunities I’ve had — and now, listening to my own little voice. The recording is slowly shattering my illusions of color, warmth, line, and musicality. I mean, sure it’s pretty, but you can tell I was not committed when I made those tracks.
Because I was afraid.
Because I didn’t want to leap in fully.
Because there were people around listening to me – and I cared too much.
I’ve always loved dancing. I’m not terribly good at it. But, I guess it just goes with expressiveness, and loving music. For years I watched other people dance at weddings, and I wanted to join. More than anything, almost, I wanted to join. But I was afraid — afraid of what my family would think, afraid of looking stupid.
And then one wedding last spring, I decided I just didn’t care, and I still wanted to dance. So I did.
Since then my public dance threshold has been ridiculously low. I haven’t seen video of myself dance and I don’t really care to, since I’m not trying to be epically good. I dance to have fun, and to help celebrate with other people.
Singing is a different matter. I’ve actually had some training and actually want to use my voice where ever it will best serve, and I want it to be ready to do whatever I need it to.
But one of my resolves is to just stop caring about the fact that people are listening. To stop caring about what they’re thinking of me, and to focus on making the best art I can, whether they like it or not.
I think I’ll sing better for it.