Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Thanks for helping me remember

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.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Trouble With Muses

I believe we all have muses. Only we don't all listen to them. Most people believe they only have one muse and that may be true for them, but not for me. I happen to have multiple muses and unlike the ones that are found in Greek Mythology mine are not waif-like beauties draped in gossamer fabric. Nope not mine. All my muses happen to be men, and rather smug ones at that. And before you ask, yes, they all have names.

I am a rather good cook (if I do say so myself.) So of course I have a muse in the kitchen. His name is Julian. I think that is a play on Julia Child, but he chose it so who am I to argue. One day when I am feeling like humiliating myself, I will tell you of the great cupcake fiasco of 2009. Julian was especially funny that night and enjoyed calling for the others to watch so there would be witnesses.

But the two muses that I spend the bulk of my time with are Stephanos and Gordon. Stephanos was actually the first muse that I met and the one responsible for starting me on my journey of becoming a writer. He is the one that wakes me up at 4am asking why I'm wasting time sleeping when there are stories to be written.

Stephanos' comrade in arms is Gordon. The best way to describe Gordon is to say he is my grammar muse. Yes. I said grammar. Quite frequently he stands over my shoulder and says things like--"You call that an action verb?" or "Too many adverbs. No one needs that many adverbs." He is well intentioned, but rather irritating from time to time. There are a couple of others, but these are the ones that I seem to hear on a daily if not hourly basis. In fact, Gordon is looking over my shoulder at this very moment making sure that I do not use too many adverbs.

People have asked me where the ideas for my manuscripts come from. In truth, I don't know. I only know that they do come and I am grateful for that. I only wish the guys would get their act together and pop in when I actually have the means to write down or record what they are telling me. Because let me tell you, they have a knack for picking the worst times to make suggestions. Luckily for me, my guys are used to me yelling at them to come back later.