Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Inspiration strikes again

As I was working hard selling tickets at my desk and waiting for the bell to ring for my habitual coffee break, in walks a man who changed everything.
His name was Joe and he was 88 years old. Often times, many patrons come to our office to buy their tickets in order to save money on the handling fees, but this man really wanted to know where he was sitting and what he was about to enjoy. He bought the remaining dance performances in our season and we talked shop about Mark Morris and the power of dance and music in our lives. Eventually, he writhed out of me that I am a singer and after asking more questions, could see that I was struggling with how to effectively use the painful emotions from my personal life to persuade my musical expression. Mom having cancer. Falling helplessly in love. Family and Friend Betrayal. Homelessness and Abandonment. I shouldn't be singing an opera, I should be writing one.
Joe was a very carismatic man. He looked no older than 58, but told me his true age and how he makes sure to take care of himself everyday and that he was the former movement teacher at BU before my teacher, Judith Chafee arrived, waaaaay back in the day. He spoke of the true importance of alignment of the spine and more importantly how important it is to align the soul. The body reflects the condition of the soul and the mind. He says he now works with lead conductors and leads workshops to help with these issues that surprisingly, many successful musicians are challenged with everyday.
I felt relieved and inspired. I have been carrying around so much anger and saddness from the recent events over the past two years and every attempt to sing and hone an emotion had ended in tears before the first note was even sung. I had felt so defeated and rejected that it had crossed my mind that I might never sing opera again.
I told Joe about the vision of my discontent. A steam engine train rushing full throttle to a brick wall. Every time I sing. An aria begins with the piano tremolo and within seconds, I begin to sob uncontrollably. I might not even be thinking about anything in particular, but the mere sound of the piano triggers a place I didn't know existed and therefore, don't know how to control.
Joe, in saintly attentiveness, seemed to know exactly what I was talking about and a smile crossed his face. A sparkle from his eye revealed itself that he was a true teacher. He told me that there was a great book, "The New Earth" by Tolle and that its a book that will probably change my life. He said that there are many talented musicians who never get past the point I am at right now and it costs them their careers as well as their happiness. He also told me that I was ready. It was such a comfort to meet Joe. I found a used copy of the book and have already obsorbed myself in its message. I ran into my voice teacher, Penny on the train and told her this story and she actually knows of Joe. She agreed that he is a great man and works with practically every well respected conductor in the city. She said his inspiration was no accident and agreed with his message.
Christmas came early for me this year, and his name was Joe.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Holiday Cheer..

One of the most lucrative moments of the yearfor the singer is the holiday season. Rather than stay home and watch Charlie Brown pout over his lame tree, everyone and their mother would rather go to a Handel and Hayden performance while imagining snow covered houses from 19th century England.

Damn you, Thomas Kincade and your cozy paint-by-numbers gifts.

This is the time of year we've been waiting for. Good ol' Jesus money. And not a moment too soon, because no one loves giving and receiving presents more than singers!
So for those of us who do not have chruch gigs, or were never called back for Handel and Hayden, we are left to our own devices to help pay the bills. Though picking up an extra shift at Starbucks might seem like the easiest option, who in their right mind wants to arrive at an empty store 7am on Christmas Day to serve hot coffee to the few customers who show up only to get a brief escape from the family traffic or are dying for an apple fritter.
No, this will not do.
For those of us who do not have church gigs, and simply have to carefully budget this holiday, I ask, What better way to enjoy the holidays than inspire and donate our gift of music to those in need? One event crosses my mind. A fire in Cambridge just made 20 people homeless a mere 2 days before Thanksgiving. One of the residents was a founder of a dance company here in Boston, and a great friend of the arts. She is now living in BU housing and has nothing. Our job as singers is not to make a living to support ourselves, but to support others. Simple acts of presenting a concert with a small admission fee and donating proceeds to these families displaced can bring the hardest of hearts to melt. So I ask of all of us, lets do something different this season. Inspire those around us by our talents and provide inspiration and hope for the Tiny Tim that you know.
Thomas Kincade can still kiss my ass.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Following your muse...

I have decided after much deliberation that there are hardly any resources available to the unemployed musician. The majority of people I know, mostly middle class, white americans were raised to go to college, and as the countless Saturday morning cartoons endorsed, "Do what makes you happy". Sadly, this optimism begins to turn sour once college or post-grad education comes to an end, and this philosophy becomes "Do what you can to support yourself."
This blog is intended to bring together the masses of musicians and artists who cannot find their way back to their love of their art. I dub thee,