Saturday, November 26, 2011

Follow your dream - not your delusion!

Saturday musings...

Ah the is that pure, uncluttered something that makes you smile....and somewhere along the line, it can get warped and twisted and become a delusion if we aren't paying attention.  Or simply, life gets in the way and the dream is replaced by something else.

How can you tell the difference?

Perhaps the first question is:  what is your dream?  And what happens WHEN you follow your dream?  There are basically two paths to take: truth, or delusion.

Dream does not automatically create reality.  It is a starting point.  It is a reminder of what you treasure. The dream will change course as the reality of discovery uncovers what needs to be DONE to achieve,  re-organize,  re-work said dream.

If we are not willing or not able to allow the dream to morph with our reality,  it becomes a delusion.  It is held onto in spite of reality.  It begins to show over-ego,  excuses,  and a self-obsessiveness that doesn't reflect the world we all must inhabit!

The more excuses we create,  the more delusional we become.  Yes it protection,  but not in a healthy way. 

The delusion weaves itself around and through the initial dream that we lose sight of where we are, where we've come from, and where we thought we were going.  It is everybody else's fault;  it is deflective and not reflective.  It is excuse after excuse.  It is ego-driven and not spirit-driven. 

It is easy to lose sight of what we are pursuing;  it is also easy to become obsessed with what we are pursuing and thus, the dream becomes infected and lost.

Often,  we play games with ourselves when a reality happens:  the dream we THOUGHT we were following or wanted to follow suddenly exposes something else:  another truth; another reality;  Perhaps it exposes that the dream we THOUGHT we wanted isn't really what we NEED.  Or what we WANT anymore.

And my response is: So?  YOUR truth is yours if you choose to claim it.  Your dream can dare to change and you have to responsibility to claim that change and grow with it.

Dreams change depending on the reality that feeds it.  Dreams have to have flexibility in order to morph and flex with the dreamer. 

Delusion however, has no room to shift, morph or flex.  It MUST remain inflexible in order to keep the illusion of order.  Its inflexibility and inability to change creates a shell that is often impossible to break.  A form of protection perhaps,  that sadly becomes a pseudo-reality that does not allow for growth, development or freedom.

As artists, we have the capacity for self-doubt.  We MUST question - and that includes ourselves.  If we stop questioning ourselves,  delusion begins to ooze in.  It is hard to question,  it is hard to look into that mirror and ask what you are seeing,  but it is SO crucial for the reality of the dream! 

Dreams must begin somewhere - but they will often end somewhere else.  This is the nature of dreaming.  If we allow it to take us where it must,  we stay open to the POSSIBILITY of something we hadn't seen, or thought of,  or were ready to discover yet.

So often, I hear singers say "why didn't I know that?"  or "Why didn't I see that before?"
The answer could simply be "because you weren't ready til now.  NOW is where you find what you NEED."

This is the reality of the dream.  The delusion will not allow you to even ask that question, let alone hear the answer, or acknowledge the possibility.

Allow your dreams to become reality - by simply letting your NOW be present; by recognizing what you dream  being a reflection of what you can DO;  and allowing the dream to remain fluid and change direction if need be,  to access the possibility.

If you resist,  and refuse that direction and possibility - delusion will gladly take over.  And delusion is simply harder to deconstruct.  It hardens deeply and quickly.  It takes more effort to chip at it and often forever to make a dent.

Again,  the decision is yours.  Each of us begins with a dream.  Big or small. How we infuse reality into that dream is up to us.  Or how we excuse it and allow delusion to take over, is also up to us.

Either way - it is work.  Work you choose.  Or not.  Dreams infused with reality give much support.  Delusion leaves one very much alone.  Nobody's fault.  That's the reality.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

So What are those Questions?

Sunday musings...

This weekend's postings have received many an email and I thank you for taking the time to do so and respond so willingly!

So many of you are wondering what your questions are.  I wish I could answer that for you.  Well, actually I am glad I cannot.  The responsibility is with YOU. 

I suggest that it is YOUR responsibility to discover WHERE you are,  and challenge yourself with questions that created your narrative. 

I will suggest this, but questions I have been asked in career counselling or when singers come to me and wonder aloud.  Often I let those questions hang in a room - the answers have to come from the one who asks them, simply because an answer from elsewhere may not be heard.

"How do I sing in "A" houses?"  is not a question that is viable if you have sung nowhere.  If you still haven't built your instrument.  If you have nothing on your resume.  It is simply not the question you must ask yourself.  This is a dream question,  not a real one.

I tend to answer with another question:  why do you want to sing in an "A" house?  What does an "A" house represent to you?  What makes you ready for that?

It gets very quiet, or the excuses will fly immediately.  This is an immediate reaction of stress management and personal narrative that is more about protection than reality.

Another question: "How do I get a job on Broadway?" 

Well, again, questions in answer:  where do you live?  what are you willing to do to play the game?  are you ready? do you know what ready is?

and on and on....

"I want" isn't always "I need".  Often this shows an inability, or a resistance to what IS.

This isn't a slam.  This actually can release some of the stress if we know where we ARE!  If you give yourself permission to be WHERE YOU ARE,  you give yourself permission to discover what you have,  where you are, and how you DO precisely where you are figuratively and literally.

Let me be even more specific.  If the question is "How do I get a job on Broadway?" and you don't live in NYC,  then my answer is,  "first you need to be in NYC". 

Are there other possibilities?  Of course!  Look at shows that are brought to Broadway - like the upcoming Jesus Christ Superstar that was a hit at Stratford Festival.  It is now playing in La Jolla and will come to Broadway in 2012.  Not everybody from the Stratford cast will come to Broadway but many will.  This is not the norm however. 

If your answer to MY answer is "I don't want to live in NYC" or "I can't live in NYC"  then perhaps it is the wrong question to ask "how".  And even if you DID live in NYC,  that does not guarantee you will get a job on Broadway. 

SO,  the next question I ask you is:  what does Broadway represent to you?  Why? 

And then:  What are you DOING now?  Where are you in that process? 

You see where I am going?

"I want a career".  Okay.  What does that mean?  If you haven't had one yet,  how do you know what that is?  That statement is too vague and at the same time, very well protected.

What are you willing to DO to discover IF you can have a career,  WHAT a career would demand,  IF  you have what it takes to claim it, and to what extent that "career" wants you?

Where are you?  Literally;  Figuratively;  in your development as artist;  in your vocal development;  in your life development;  in your financial development;

What are you prepared to DO?  Don't cop out with the answer "whatever it takes".  That means nothing.  That is an excuse answer because it does not answer the question.  BE SPECIFIC.

What are you DOING NOW?  Are you ACTIVE in your pursuits of your answers or are you waiting for the skies to open to deliver them to you? 

It is up to YOU to discover WHERE you are,  and WHAT you are about.  TRULY.  This truth reveals the questions,  changes the narrative,  and releases the excuses.

You do not need excuses if you are truly in the moment of your pursuits.  Period.  If you continue to discover your questions,  know where you are and find the REAL answers,  the NOW reveals itself and gives you permission to be there.

Dream?  Of course, but know the difference so when the work needs to be done, you actually DO it instead of excuse it or blame it elsewhere.

If you choose NOT to do the work, then accept that reality and the questions change!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

What is your Personal Narrative?

Saturday musings...

What is your personal narrative?
We are all the star of our own play,  but what are you saying to yourself?

I believe personal narrative has to be a form of stress management.  We do need that.  We need to believe in ourselves.  However, at a certain point,  are the voices in your head helping you achieve your truth, or getting in the way of hearing the truth?

That personal narrative can be a crutch, a lie, a deception, or it can be a protection mechanism that creates another reality from being reached.  If it gets in the way of a larger truth,  it stunts us - as human beings and as artists.

By nature, artists have the capacity for self-doubt.  We need to question.  This is part of the process of growth, discovery, creativity and creation.  Creating and re-creating that personal narrative is so important to a healthy development as an artist.  However, what are you really saying?  What are you actually doing?  What does it allow you to explore and what does it prevent you from seeing/doing/becoming aware of in yourself?

Such a slippery slope, that personal narrative.  It can either keep you open to discover,  or it can close you off to self deception.  It can excuse ANYTHING you choose not to view in the reality that IS.

If you want to isolate and insulate yourself fully from the world,  then that personal narrative doesn't need constant examination.  However, if you want to be SEEN in the world,  that personal narrative needs to arrive at an honesty that allows you to LIVE there too.

Is your narrative full of statements or full of questions?  And if it has questions, are you asking the right ones?  Are you only asking the ones that YOU can answer, and thereby protect yourself,  or are you asking the ones someone else who has more knowledge/understanding/experience  could provide for you?

Sometimes the answers are surprising.  Surprisingly useful;  revealing;  lift weights;  Sometimes they are hard to swallow.  Sometimes they hurt.  However, those answers that could re-create a healthier personal narrative have to challenge where you ARE.  Sometimes they DO hurt - not because they are aimed to hurt YOU, but rather because they pose a truth that YOU have resisted and couldn't deal with - then or now.  If it hurts, there is still a possibility to change that narrative.

Yes, there will always be people who want to hurt - but let's not go there.  Let the questions become: why does that hurt?  Why does that sting?  Why does that make me uncomfortable?  Why do I get angry when I hear that?

Perhaps those things that are hard to swallow, or seem to hurt are actually going to give you freedom to see a deeper truth that you need to adjust that personal narrative and focus where it was cloudy.  Perhaps you didn't know it was cloudy - and when the fog clears,  it is a relief to see what is truly there and move through it!

The honest truth in a larger sense is this:  not everyone is a world class voice.  Not every world class voice works.  It is okay to be what you are,  develop what you have and pursue where you are.  First, you need to know and claim where that is.  That is part of the narrative.

It is okay to be just where you are.  It is okay to develop a personal narrative that reflects that.  It is okay to feel sad you aren't where you would like to be, where you thought you would be, and simply take the truth of that and make it part of the narrative.

Stress management does not need to be another form of reality!  Stress management as personal narrative can give you room to FEEL and to ask the right questions to get the correct answers to be YOU as an artist and as a singer (or actor or dancer or performer of ANY kind!)

What are the right questions?  Perhaps that is the first step and the first question.

Friday, November 18, 2011

What Do You Want to SHOW in that first audition aria?

Friday musings...

YAP and opera company winter auditions are a-coming! 

As you prepare your package of arias and decide what to sing,  the FIRST aria is so important!!

How do you choose?  Why do you choose it?  Many of these decisions are made with your "team" of teacher and coaches,  but certain things need to be remembered:

As much as you think "impressive" is the way to go - re-examine your view of "impressive"!!  Know your voice and your ability NOW so that what IS impressive is not what you WISH to be impressive.  Such an ongoing problem for singers.  Self truth is an ongoing issue.

Perhaps dropping the idea of "impress them" altogether would be a much more realistic idea. 

That first aria should be what you SING WELL; in your sleep; drunk on a bet; (well not - but I think you get my point!) - that first aria should be in the body, voice, psyche, so comfortably it feels like it was written FOR you at this point in your singing life.  It should show what your voice does well RIGHT NOW.  It should allow you to access your vocal technique without angst, your musicality, and your dramatic intelligence.  It should be a total package.  PERIOD.

It doesn't need to show EVERYTHING you can do (or think you can do)!!!!  Does any one aria do that anyway?  That is what the LIST is for.  You have a list of often 3 - 5 arias to show what you are doing, and working toward doing.

That first aria needs to be sung in, lived in, slept in.  You should be content there! You should know that even if you were under the weather, you could DELIVER it!

Doing your BEST work is what you can control in an audition.  That first aria establishes it - or not. 

Trying to "impress" simply takes you out of the process.  You will never know WHAT would impress those at the table.  They are there to see what YOU do.  Not what you think they want to hear and see to say "wow let's hire him/her or accept him/her into our program".  You will NEVER win that mind game.

Expressing something real is far more important than trying to impress someone.  Expressing says you know what you have to say.  Trying to impress says you don't know what you can do and you are coming "out" to say "am I good enough, is that what you want?  do you like me???"

That's not what an audition is for or about. 

The healthiest audition from a singer's perspective is about preparation and execution of that work. Period.  Show what you have. Period.  Do not show what you DO NOT have.  Period.  Do not try to riddle out the "audition process" from the other side of the table.  Period.  Do not take it personally. Period.  Do not try to impress.  Period.

What aria do you sing the best?  And if you have several, what do you want to show FIRST?  What is the calling card you want them to SEE?

This allows you to begin to less emotional about the audition, and more matter of fact.  Just do the work.  The rest looks after itself.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

But What If?

Sunday musings...

sorry I have been MIA - still dealing with the healing thing and all the joys that brings.

This blog has come out of numerous discussions with singers over the past few weeks: some seasoned professionals, some just beginning their journey.

Often, in our profession, we are called gypsies, or certainly our lifestyle is called that of a gypsy.

I think that more often than not, it can be misunderstood, even by the very people that are trying to live it!

Perhaps the most exciting, and yet frightening part of our lives as artists is its unpredictability.  Feast or famine is often a phrase that is used.  Be careful what you wish for.  The unpredictability often makes it difficult to plan for things.  But what if...I want THIS and THAT happens?

Perhaps it's where I am in my life, in my career, and in my response to things.  My answer is simple: So?

Anymore,  even those most mundane and predictable career-choices can be unpredictable.  LIFE is unpredictable.  However freeing and refreshing that we have chosen, (or the profession has chosen us) a LIFESTYLE of freedom - in being an artist.

So many "artists or performers in waiting"  stop the flow of unpredictability but trying to impose rules of "but what if" too quickly.

I have a chance to get a great day job that will pay my rent and keep me going for a while...but what if I get a show?


I am in a great relationship and I am wanting to pursue my career...I want a family too so what if I get pregnant?


What is possible NOW?  Do you have that show yet?  Are you pregnant yet? What is the NOW looking like?  If the job is amazing and you are offered it - take it.  When the possibilities change,  you will see where you are and make the changes needed and necessary to remain true to you.  Stopping short a career possibility just in case you get pregnant?  Why?  Keep singing,  keep the possibility open for babies,  make decisions as they appear.

This is not being unrealistic nor is it being dishonest.  The unpredictability of life in general often makes us feel out of control.  We often then try to control the little we feel we can.  How ironic that that arts tend to attract the type A personalities isn't it?  Seriously, how much control do we actually have?  And what is it honestly?

So I turn the question around:

But what if you take each day as a renewed opportunity to ask yourself what is needed of you and for you today?

But what if you stay true to being the most realized artist you can be in this lifetime and allow that artistic endeavor to find its path?

But what if you claim your life's unpredictability and create an adventure?

But what if you simply claim what comes before you and work with it instead of looking past it to see if something looks better?

But what if you say "here I am, NOW.  What do I have to work with today?"

Turning down work because you MIGHT get a show and have to quit later, or adjust later does not pay the bills, nor get you that show.

Not taking a shift because you MIGHT get an audition doesn't guarantee you that audition.

Not dating someone who might end up becoming the love of your life, or a simple companion because you WANT to do a tour and wouldn't be available and don't want a long distance relationship does not guarantee the relationship, the date, nor the tour.

I think you see where I am going...

But what if you just take each day and BE?  But what if you admit it's a little scary and do it anyway?  But what if you claim what you do not yet own and discover the artist that resides in your being?  But what if you can actually do more than you think is possible?

But what if you have to make decisions?  But what if they are hard?

My answer: So? 

But what if you don't want to?  Then don't.

But what if you DO????

Do not un-create if you are offered possibilities.  Just breathing allows for possibilities.  Do not dismiss them because of what ifs.  Seize a chance to change to your life,  make it fuller, allow for living it.

But what if you find more than you ever hoped to look for?

Imagine it!