Saturday, December 12, 2009

for the soul.

I sang twice today - once paid, once unpaid. They were both worth it.

The first was a funeral for a man that I didn't know. I was asked to sing as a "fill-in" soloist...this is easier for me to do for a funeral since knowing the people involved brings emotions that are usually too hard for me to keep in check to sing well. The family had no preference of song, so I chose "It is well with my soul", the old traditional hymn. I LOVE this hymn. I had sang it before at my physics teacher's funeral when I was a freshman in college, and it was a pivotal moment in my performing career, another story for another time.

I have been thinking a lot about singing for the love of the music, the love of the poetry being sung, singing for love of singing. And today, I think I did. I mean, I know I did. That song has meaning for me in more ways than one, and I sang to my Savior today, and I sang to the people who don't know Him, pleading with them to hear the love in my song for this wonderful God, and I sang to give glory to the One who gave me my voice. And it was so much better than worrying about singing correctly.

The difference in this performance from others where I have let go like that is - I didn't let it get away from me. I was able to trust my technique was solid and focus on breath and tone and resonance when needed while simultaneously letting the performance just...flow. I think I am starting to make some progress.

The other singing gig I had was with my choir. This was our third Christmas concert of the year, and it was a major theater in Boston. We were not the feature of the evening, but we were the pre-show. People were walking in and finding their seats while we were providing background music/entertainment until the real show began. And it was a full house. And we made them stop in the aisles and forget about their seat and listen and stare. And we made them holler and applaud and love us. And it was wonderful to sing to people who appreciate, even if they don't always understand. And it was wonderful to sing with my choir-mates, my fellow choristers, my friends.

So often, becoming recognized as a "good" singer/performer/actress/showman of any sort becomes about connections and money and extreme availability...when really, there are talented singers in many places. Some of them don't have the time or the availability or the money to constantly be out there trying to be noticed. But when they sing, people are stunned. When they act, audiences are captivated. When they are on, people pay attention. The people watching wonder why this person is "hanging around here when they could be in New York!" (I heard this comment today about our choir)

I used to want to be famous. Words like these would go to my head and make me long for big city lights and large venues to sing in. Now, I am trying to sing because I want to sing. I don't care about being recognized. Sure, it's nice - everybody likes to be noticed and appreciated. But, I don't want it to go to my head like it used to. I don't want it to be as important as it used to be. A comment from an audience member would make or break a performance for me. Not anymore. I know I will fall into that trap at times again, but I hope that I will continue to learn what music is for. It is not for money, not for filler, and not for distraction. For me, it is for the soul...

...even if nobody listens.

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