I have been waiting on Stephanos to earn his keep as my muse and give me some idea of what to write my next blog on. However, I realize that he and Gordon are probably off somewhere, downing a pint of Stout and plotting new ways to torment me. It seems they have enjoy zinging me with "divine inspiration" at the most inopportune moments, such as when I am standing in the deli line at the grocery store. So since my muses seemed to have abandoned me momentarily, I must forge ahead on my own.
This past week I was given the privilege of teaching voice lessons at the International Community Theatre Festival in Venice Florida, and I must say it was glorious. Never before have I seen or done anything like this. Community Theaters from around the world were there including Denmark, Australia, and Russia to name only a few. It truly was an incredible experience.
But I have to admit the show that touched me the most was a musical review from the Loveland Center, a non-profit corporation that provides various services for adults with developmental disabilities. The Loveland Performers are a wonderful and remarkable group of people. From the moment these guys began to sing, I began to cry. As a teacher of voice and music it gave my heart great joy to see people who actually performed for the sheer joy and love of performing.
As performers, we have a tendency of getting in our own way. Intellectually I know why it happens. We worry too much about how we look, how we sound, or what others will think of us. We go through the litany of questions such as: what if my voice cracks? What if I forget the words? What if... What if... The list goes on and on, and I see it all to frequently in my students.
But here is my question. What does it matter? I know. I know. Performing is personal. It is not only about the song or the dance or the monologue. It is, metaphorically speaking, putting yourself out there naked for all the world to see. To make a mistake can be devastating, because, God forbid, you might get laughed at, and no one likes to be laughed at unless you are Larry the Cable Guy.
The pressure of perfection is enough to drive you crazy. In many instances this leads to performance anxiety so debilitating, we stop performing and doing what we love. But isn't that what being in this world is about? Are we not here to experience the things we love and enjoy solely for joy's sake?
So, where am I going in all this? First: I am reminding myself that although performing is personal, I should not allow myself to get too caught up in me, and to stop listening to the critics inside my brain. Second: I want to thank the beautiful Loveland Center Performers. If it hadn't been for them, I might never have remembered the overwhelming beauty and joy of performing with abandon.