Getting out of your own way

I think half of the work of the teacher and the student is figuring out how to take a time-out from old habits and be open to something new. I am still very much a student. Lessons for me are a “spa day for my voice” – a chance to renew, regenerate, and improve. To get the most out of it, I have to be open. The degree to which I can be open is dependent on my trust in the teacher, but even in a first lesson I can say to a teacher, “I am looking for a new perspective on my voice. What do you hear and where would you go?” I may love or hate the answer, but that is not important. What matters is whether I sense that there is a truth to explore.

This constant process of opening and receiving, practicing and incorporating, singing and performing, is a discipline that is very important to me. Wisdom is acquired, not gifted, for most of us. Being able to be open to further work and improvement, while also having and using the wisdom accumulated through decades of work, is exhilarating. The only thing that would stop me is health or energy issues, which can of course come if I live long enough.

I can understand feeling like quitting. Mustering the energy if you feel like it’s going nowhere, or the feeling that it’s overwhelming to keep growing and changing, can be difficult. Sometimes you need to take a break, even if you are the most avid student and hard-working musician. I have counterproductive tendencies including lethargy, resentment of change, and escapism. Committing to working on my singing helps me to get out of “what’s the point?” moods, onward with a purpose.

Some people refuse to continue forever without a tangible reward. I can’t live that transactionally. Call it idealism, or the literal meaning of amateur; I want to keep at it, warts and all. Rewards have come and gone, but cannot be the measure of my life. Striving for creating moments, beauty, and love are what it’s about.

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