3 Dis­en­chanted

Moose Jaw Times Herald - - MJ SCENCE -

Afew times a year a per­form­ing arts stu­dent walks into my stu­dio and I learn that they are in a slump. They have lost their drive to prac­tice. In­evitably they feel guilty or they won­der if this means they don’t love it and should quit. And I usu­ally say this…

Only you know what your goals are, but maybe you don’t know this. It is nor­mal to have days where you don’t want to go into the prac­tice room. It is nor­mal to want to be just like “every­one else” — free to do what you want and when you want. But what is your goal?

How does some­one who is 12 years old get to the point of do­ing a Grade 8 piano exam? By be­ing an ath­lete at their art. A body­builder hits the gym ev­ery day. An Olympic hope­ful skater gets up at five in the morn­ing and drives to the rink — be­cause they have dis­ci­pline. They learn that you don’t have to be ec­stat­i­cally, gig­gly happy ev­ery time you do your thing.

We for­get about the day-to-day com­mit­ment, and re­mem­ber the highs of a per­for­mance or great achieve­ment. But how did we get there?

How did we reach that feel­ing of in­cred­i­ble joy and con­fi­dence? One day at a time.

Ev­ery day is a com­mit­ment. Ev­ery day you reaf­firm your goal by putting in the time it takes to be­come the best at what you do.

In a way, it is harder to be a pri­vate­in­stru­ment stu­dent. You need to find that drive on your own or have par­ents or teach­ers who will be hon­est with you and re­mind you of your goal. A suc­cess­ful soloist ul­ti­mately sticks with it be­cause they want it for them­selves.

In a mu­si­cal or on a foot­ball team, you need to show up reg­u­larly to prac­tice be­cause that is where you learn your part of the play. With so many mov­ing parts, you need to be there in or­der for them to pass you the ball. If they don’t trust you, you won’t be a part of the big play.

Sports and theatre re­quire trust. Trust that is built one re­hearsal at a time. So pri­or­i­tize your time with your team. The teams that soar have 100% at­ten­dance.

In pri­vate mu­sic lessons, only you know if you are show­ing up to re­hearsal. You can even fool your par­ents or room­mate. You can sit down at the piano and not do a fo­cused re­hearsal. You could sing the song through from top to bot­tom 15 times… and never re­ally prac­tice. Mean­while, you get re­ally bored with the piece.

I tell my stu­dents to be­come their own doc­tor. They need to learn what they are look­ing for in the mir­ror, or when they re­view record­ings and ac­ti­vate their ears to hear and eyes to see. Then they need to di­ag­nose the line of mu­sic in ques­tion and ap­ply reme­dies. If they still have trou­ble, they take it to the spe­cial­ist in their weekly les­son.

In my se­nior voice recital (a 60-minute voice exam per­formed in front of an au­di­ence by a mu­sic stu­dent in or­der to grad­u­ate with a de­gree in per­for­mance), I hated my Ger­man lieder. I just didn’t con­nect with it. I wanted the teacher to change those songs so badly. I loved the French, Ital­ian, English, Opera and Mu­si­cal Theatre pieces, but the Ger­man I put off.

It’s hard to prac­tice some­thing you don’t love. It’s hard to give up that time with your friend or read­ing that novel to go prac­tice a song, or role, that you didn’t want from the be­gin­ning.

Through this ex­pe­ri­ence I learned that I needed to love it. I needed to choose to love even when it was hard.

There have been times in my ca­reer when I was asked to per­form songs or roles that I didn’t love or con­nect with. Ul­ti­mately, those gigs got me more work be­cause I was able to con­vince the au­di­ence that I loved those pieces and I was able to make a mean­ing­ful dif­fer­ence in their wed­ding, fu­neral, or spe­cial event.

We per­form be­cause we love mu­sic and the way it makes oth­ers feel.

In or­der to be ready for those spe­cial mo­ments in life when mu­sic has the power to move an au­di­ence to tears in mere mo­ments, we must learn how to serve the mu­sic. It is not al­ways about how we feel.

Artists should rec­og­nize our re­la­tion­ship to a piece right from the be­gin­ning, yes. Our feel­ing mat­ters too. But, we too will be changed by the mu­sic if we serve it and don’t force it to serve us.

As al­ways, lessons learned through the per­form­ing arts ap­ply to every­one. What have you be­come dis­en­chanted with? Do you ex­pect this per­son or sit­u­a­tion to make you ec­stat­i­cally happy ev­ery mo­ment you are en­gaged with it?

Per­haps your ex­pec­ta­tions need to be re­vised. Per­haps this is a time for you to trust your team and stay dis­ci­plined.

Every­one has days like this. We un­der­stand.

Now let’s make mu­sic.

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