Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Passion

Part of me hesitates to write about "passion"...our culture, especially our youth and media uses this term so often that it almost loses its intended intensity. Despite that some might think it has been diluted in definition, (i.e. "I'm so passionate about those designer pillows right now!" blech.) I still think it is a powerful way to express what are the important things to you in your life.

Passion is a funny thing, because it can cause such extreme emotion depending on the outcome. Often, people who are passionate about something can be bitterly disappointed that their expectations aren't met...and yet a few months or years later will be at it again - whatever "it" is. Because they can't help themselves. I think to have something qualify as a passion, it should be something that you have a natural talent for/eye for/gift for. It should be something that even if you take time off from it, or life circumstances change the realization of it, you adapt and still seek ways to have it in your life, no matter how difficult. Because without it, you feel a little lost.

At least, these are the ramblings of me, the singer. You might be saying, "sure, but I have way too much on my plate right now, and it's easy for you to just sing at different events or church or whatever and keep your passion going that way." Well, yeah, maybe. But I still had to get to the place where I felt that those venues were "good enough" for me to be satisfied in expression. I still felt like the big stage was where true singers with real talent would end up, and I was determined to not let that escape me. I had a lot of pride built into my vision for my life. So, as many people know...I am not the big singer up on stage who dazzles and gets acclaim and accolades galore and rides high on the music every night of a show. God had other plans for me, at least for this stage of my life. After college - right as things were starting to fall into place musically, right as directors and programs and teachers were starting to take notice and encourage me to audition at all these various places - I decided I was in love and wanted to get married to that person before it passed me by. I was very much in love (and maybe a little blinded by that!), but it was also a choice to let go a little of that dream of mine to head to the big cities and live it up with a single life. Soon after, we began having kids and here I am, housesitting in a beautiful house in a quaint New England town with two adorable boys and a hard-working husband and teaching music part-time.

Sometimes I think, "How did I get here?"

Now, I am in no way saying that getting married = letting your dreams die! Haha, that would be awful, wouldn't it? But, it entails sacrifice and compromise, and one thing I decided to compromise was my desire for the stage. I still sing, quite often, with various local opera companies in their summer and winter concert series, and sing in church quite a bit. I've even done an occassional show, but it is really difficult with young children at home. I decided a while ago that it is just too hard to do a big show at this time - need to wait until the kids are a bit older - might be a while!

I decided this because I am not willing to sacrifice my family for my dream. Even the small amount of time I take away from them now, teaching and occasionally singing smaller gigs can be really difficult. My husband is immensely encouraging, as he is himself a fine singer, and also knows how important it is to me - how passionate I am about communicating through music. I am so grateful for that. I had to change my priorities about my life, and have been realizing that maybe it's not really mine to begin with. I truly believe God gave me my passion for music, specifically a gift for singing, and while I struggle at times with how to realize that, I know I need to continue to hone and prune it for whatever opportunities He brings my way.

This time of life has smaller vocal opportunities, but it is a very short time of life. My children are young, innocent, and trusting. They need me and still want me around. I am going to honor that and live presently with them and my husband. Later, when there is time, I will be able to pursue my passion more ardently. In the meantime, I will look for small opportunities to sing where I can, when it fits, so the talent will not be lost.

On a side note (this post is getting lo-o-o-o-ong!), would you consider following God's plan a passion? Or taking care of your family a passion? Or being a homemaker who keeps a healthy, fun-loving, clean family in their home a passion? (read this blog if you do...another great one!)

I think I would say yes...I have always been trying to follow God's plan for my life beyond any other dreams I might have...even if I wasn't sure what that plan was at the moment. I believe I am passionate about doing right by God. He also gave me this family, even when I was immature and inexperienced and scared, and gave me the tools, knowledge, and passion to care about and for them. I have become very passionate about making our home life intentional and beautiful and clean and loving and happy and on and on and on.

I know there are many other types of passions out there that are seemingly impractical to pursue at certain times of life as well. But I would encourage you to not put those dreams on the shelf permanently. If you are into art, continue taking classes when you can, or a weekend workshop to brush up (ha!) your skills. If you are into drama, see if your church has any spiritual drama ministries you could either start or be a part of. I know I have been immensely blessed by dramatic readings or monologues of Biblical characters that bring the Bible to life. If you are into engineering, find mechanic friends to show you how to tune up your car on the weekend every now and then...

...there are many seemingly simple, creative, everyday ways to rediscover your first passion, whatever it is, at whatever stage of life, alongside new passions you have been given. Being friends with so many new mothers (and myself being one!), I have seen so many friends dive headlong into mothering and forget for a while what they used to pursue in their lives. (um, hello? that was me...still is on occassion) What I start seeing is a little bit of that tired, hopeless look in their eyes and in their manner. And when we get talking, they confess a need to do something that doesn't involve the children, and often doesn't involve the husband as well. I believe this is your passion calling. Don't forget what God first gave you, even if there isn't space or time for it at this present moment. I remind myself of this weekly.

Are you tired of seeing the word PASSION yet? :)

Monday, July 25, 2011

"passion following"

I just read an amazing blog post written by "the nester."
Nesting Place
I love her blog! Check it out!
She usually blogs about home furnishings and furniture re-arranging and thrifting and such (dressing your "nest"), but decided to write a bit about how she and her husband are now earning money doing what they love. The whole post is to inspire you to keep following your passion, and God will bless that. Sound familiar? If you've read the title of my blog, it should. I've believed that for a long time, and it's nice to hear someone else's thoughts on the subject. I encourage you to read it and think about what you love doing.

I will be writing more about my passions soon. :)

Saturday, July 09, 2011

my boy's favorite songs evah!

So, Jeremiah is what my hubby likes to call "a serial monogamist"...which, can be a bit irritating at times when he wants to do the same activity, or in this case, listen to the same song, over and over again.

But he gets such joy out of each and every time, that you can't help but play it for him "just one more time, bud, ok?"

And dance a bit.

Oh, is that just me? Whatever, if I have to listen to it, might as well be fun.

One of the ways I have used his serial monogamy to my advantage is to play the songs I like for Jeremiah frequently, hoping he will take to one of them and start requesting. Which he does.

Lately, I had been playing one of Michael Buble's amazing albums, and Jeremiah began requesting from his carseat, "Can we listen to 'Birds Flying High'?"

Thus it began.



Pros to hearing this a lot:
1. Jeremiah singing it an octave up, which is SO ridiculously adorable and does my heart good
2. The music video is a straight takeoff of Bond, which my husband loves.
3. Buble sings this really, really well. I try to sound like him, and then Jer asks me to "please, mommy, I don't like that singing" and I stop. :)

Cons to hearing this a lot:
1. You constantly feel like you're about to walk into a Bond movie scene at the end.
2. Car neighbors hearing you wail and seeing you dance strangely out the car window.

He has also taken to this song, which is on the same album:



This is even cuter when he sings it the octave up, because it goes pretty high. And it's really funny because Jer tends to start it two octaves up! Go ahead, try it, I dare you.

Last month it was this song. (We're not sure where he first heard it...although I will play pop radio for him on occasion and he learns quickly)



Sorry for the lame video...the official music video is a little much for me to handle, so you get the version we let Jeremiah watch. I really don't mind this...I've always liked dance music, and there is no gratuitous...anything in this song. Pretty clean as far as this style goes.

Hope you've enjoyed a peak into our life soundtrack lately...and now go about your day singing "Dynamite" over and over again. Sorry.


Wednesday, July 06, 2011

new students

I have begun teaching voice again, after a hiatus of a couple years. Even though I love it, the whole process is a little intimidating to me, as I know how messed up someone can get from bad teaching advice, especially as a young voice student. So, I have taken on students in a cautious and limited manner - mostly taking students that have little to no experience, or who mainly want someone to act more as a "coach" instead of a technical voice instructor. I'm playing it safe, as I know I can teach basics, but feel incompetent to diagnose any sort of vocal issue, even if I can hear what it is.

Part of this stems from college, and not taking the courses I wanted to in order to be able to run a private voice studio. The only things I can go off of are my own experiences in private lessons (and Lord knows that not everyone learns and receives instruction the same way, or has the same problems!) and voice literature of the more scientific nature. I wish I could learn under some sort of mentoring program, so as to ensure that I don't screw up someone's voice for even a short amount of time.

The two students I am teaching now fall under my criteria of "who-I-am-willing-to-teach":
* T., a young lady who is a freshman and simply has always wanted voice lessons so she could become audition well enough to make it into the spring musical that I direct at her school every year. She has very little experience, sounded like pitched air when I first heard her, and is enthusiastic and lovely in all ways adolescenty. It's enjoyable and she is progressing well.

* L., a young man who I've worked with in the past during the spring musicals I direct - he is now a sophomore in college. He is home for the summer, wants to audition for his school's "Guys and Dolls" (love that show!) in the fall and wants to brush up some audition rep. From working with him in the past, he is not a natural singer (that's putting it really nicely) and can be a difficult personality to work with. But, I had my first lesson with him yesterday, and he does have some good things to work with...and mostly wants me to just help him learn the melodies and such of his music. Normally, I would try to push more technique into someone such as this (and, honestly, how will I be able to avoid it throughout our time together), but he is so far out there, and we have such a short amount of time together, that it will probably take up most of our time to get him to learn the melodies to a comfortable level. It will be an interesting summer of lessons with him, for sure.

So anyway, there's my insecure confession about teaching privately, and I hope to only get better. I desperately don't want to be one of those teachers that has everyone coming out of their studio having the same problem that others have to fix. I really would love to teach more students privately, but feel so inadequate. Seriously, why aren't there mentorships for people who want to do this?

What a stupid question. It's like I'm asking why there isn't more money for arts programs....who cares, right? argh.

In order to end on a happier note...I will leave you with one of my favorite songs from "Guys and Dolls":