Tuesday, October 04, 2011


I know. It's been forever.  Again.  For those of you who continue to check for updates, thank you.  I apologize for not posting life stories, deep and meaningful comparisons of life in CO and life in ND, or media of recent performances.

It's possible (although not likely) that all of the above will come again sometime, if I ever find the time, energy, and inspiration to keep writing.  It's also possible that writing this entry will encourage me to write more. 

Until one of the above happens, this will have to suffice:


I had one of those experiences this weekend that reminded me why I'm doing this whole music thing. 

One of the most important reasons that I'm following this path to what I hope will become a lifetime of performance is for the opportunity to make music that moves people to feel.  There are songs that have brought a huge smile to my face (see this), evoked tears (Adele makes me want to die), incited laughter (how could you *not* laugh at this the first time you hear it?), or made me want to shake my booty (although I can't do it as well as JLo).

But the beauty of music is that what those songs do for me could be entirely different from what they do for you.  We all connect to different things at different times, based on our past and present experiences.  It's powerful for me to hear a song that formerly meant nothing to me suddenly mean something and I enjoy exploring how that connection was created.  That connection is what makes music powerful.

Even more special to me than exploring that connection, though, is playing a part in the connecting.  

For those of you who don't know, I'm fortunate in that one of my sources of income is doing what I love: singing.  A local church pays me to attend weekly choir rehearsals and services to support the choir and sing a solo here and there.  It's very common in cities, although I'd never heard of such a thing when I was living in good ol' ND.  (I could write a whole blog on this topic, so I'm skipping over the details.)  

Due to a number of unforeseen circumstances, the song that we sang this past Sunday featured me as a soloist for 2 of 5 verses.  I sang, the choir sang, church went on, life was normal.  

Until after the service.  A man who I've seen in church every week approached our music director. I was near her and overheard him thank her for such beautiful music (she wrote the setting of the text).  He then pointed me out and said, "I don't know where you found her, but she's incredible."  He then turned to me for the first time and I saw tears in his eyes.  He then asked me, "Can I give you a hug?"  I smiled and replied, "Absolutely."  While we hugged the awkward hug of people who don't know each other, he thanked me and then walked away.

I should mention that seeing people cry almost always makes me cry, too.  But the tears in my eyes at that moment were out of gratitude and a tiny bit of shame.  Gratitude is obvious.  I'm grateful to be here, studying what I love, sharing beautiful music, working with my talent, connecting with people, etc.

But why shame?  I have to be honest with you: even to this moment, I have no idea what the text of that song was about.  I didn't give one thought to the text or its meaning.  I'm pretty sure that the only things that I was thinking about while singing were the notes, blending my voice to the section, and making sure that I was using good technique to create a smooth, even phrase with no major bumps or misaligned vowels. I never once looked at the congregation in an attempt to connect with them.

In light of the horrible performance practices outlined above, I never ever could have imagined that what we were singing about as a choir would have an effect on the people listening.  But it did.  A large effect.  It's humbling. 

This is a problem that we performers have.  We have to pay attention to the details to make technically beautiful and sound music.  We need to use good technique to preserve our bodies and minds.  We can't get so emotionally attached to the music that we get emotional in performance.  We MUST do all of those things.  But we do occasionally lose perspective.  We forget to look at the bigger picture, to think about the music as music itself, which is just as important as the details.  We sometimes forget that we aren't performing for ourselves, but for our audience.  (Every "we" in this paragraph should maybe be changed to "I."  I should speak for other performers.) 

Thankfully, our audience can be affected even if we aren't doing everything exactly right.  And we can't know if, how, or when we'll affect them.  We can just do our best and hope that someone is making some sort of connection to the music.  And when we do make that connection, we can be thankful for the opportunity and ability to have made it.  Connection, after all, is one of the best benefits of performing music.