Perform Something Pre-rehearsed for a Live Audience, check!!
I did it! Bronchitis be damned, I did it anyway. After months of hacking my way through “Caro Mio Ben“, I finally got to perform it for a live audience. Since I was sick and everything, in rehearsal we decided to change the song to a lower key (which I had only run through once before!) and that was a little scary. I think I had a hard time singing the higher key more because I was so nervous that my throat was constricting and I couldn’t relax, than because I was sick.
My ‘Caro’ piece wasn’t great by any means. Since it was in a lower key, part of it I did in my chest voice (which, in an opera song, just sounds like a dude singing) and part I did in my head voice as I had been practicing. All those little things we perfected in lessons just went flying out of my brain because I was in front of people and my nerves took over, but not too detrimentally. I messed up and coughed at one point, but for some reason, even after that, when I took my bow and I went and sat down next to Michael in the audience, I could not stop smiling. I was euphoric. I was so proud of myself and nervous and excited and feeling so many feelings, I was gripping Michael’s hand so hard he had to politely tap me off. Sorry about that, by the way, Michael.
Intermission happened, and I opened the second half with one of my favorite songs, “Don’t Know Why,” by Norah Jones. It’s smokey. It’s calm. It’s just lovely and it was also the first song my teacher and I worked on so many months ago. I was certainly better at the Norah Jones song, but it didn’t even matter. How well I sang felt trivial. You know how they say it’s not the destination that matters, it’s the journey? That could not be more true for this life list entry.
Over the last several months, I have thought about what this particular blog post would be like. What I could write about the lesson I learned from performing. At the beginning of singing lessons, I figured it would be: “I got to sing and it was so much fun and I love bringing fun into my life, hahahaha!” Then after a few months it morphed into “Wow that sh*t was hard, but I stuck to my goals and I gained confidence, go me!” Both are true, but not the biggest lesson I learned. If I had to write the most important lesson I learned from all this training and practicing and performing and everything, it would be this: my body is relevant to my life.
Growing up, even as a young adult, I had a disconnect from the body. I ignored the body. I lived in my mind and my heart and that was it. Six years ago, I smoked half a pack of cigarettes a day, drank at least one glass of wine every night, ate every single meal out, and literally never exercised.* Slowly since then, I have rid myself of all of those habits and now I lead a pretty healthy lifestyle. But I think that since I have this weak respiratory system, I have to be even healthier than other people. I slip sometimes, just like anyone else might, into less than healthy behaviors. But until I had this 5k and this recital to complete, I could get sick and it didn’t matter. I would recover, go back to normal, and it would be fine. But not now. I can’t keep getting sick and starting over again from zero. My body, my health, wasn’t relevant to my life before. It is now.
So, back to the singing. Chelsea, my singing teacher, is pretty much the reason why this life list entry was so awesomely enlightening.
Not only did she teach me how to use my voice more efficiently and safely and beautifully and everything you’re supposed to learn in singing lessons, she also taught me confidence. Not the kind where you tell yourself you’re “good enough” to do something, but the kind where you say to yourself: it doesn’t matter if you’re good enough – you do it if you want to do it, and you get better along the way. You let go of the ego and shine past it so you can grow.** And in terms of health and body? She taught me, whether she knew it or not, that the voice is an expression of everything inside you. It is your spirit, and your mind, and your body all wrapped into one mode of expression. You have to train all of them, build all of them, maintain all of them healthfully to be a singer. With the flower essences she taught me how to use, and the body exercises, and books on ego, I feel like I didn’t just have singing lessons. It was singing lessons and therapy and natural medicine and physical education all in one.
I have a clear path of finding my health and discovering my wholeness in front of me, and I am not sure I would have found that path without Chelsea and this life list. Thank you Chelsea for giving me that gift. Thank you Michael for hearing me freak out in both good and bad ways. Thank you Sam for encouraging me into taking lessons and helping me start. Thank you readers and friends for listening to me go through this journey! It was informative, and life changing, and also so super fun. 🙂