In my opinion, art is nearly equal parts talent and passion. Without the passion that
drives the artist to create, the talent stays trapped within the artist due to fear or the
crippling self-doubt we are all prone to from time to time. This is definitely the case
when it comes to my own personal situation.
I am a singer recitalist and a voice teacher with a growing number of students of
all ages, but it wasn’t always that way. I grew up with a deep love of music—all genres, including pop, country, jazz standards, classical, you name it. I sang everywhere: in the car always, in choirs of all types, in my room as a child. But, never in front of anyone or alone as a soloist. I was paralyzed by fear and never thought anyone would care enough to hear what I had to contribute. After all, there were enough singers and artists in the world and I never had the confidence inspired as the result of having had any private vocal study.
All that changed one day when I found that I could no longer sing! Let me be
clear, I had no physical changes or illness which inspired this unusual event; it was more of a personal crisis. I have a very dear friend who is a Christian Education Minister and the most spiritual person I know. She told me once, that she knew she was in crisis when she found herself to be unable to pray (an integral part of her everyday life). She would sometimes find herself in such deep despair that the prayers which would usually come so easily to her mind and lips became trapped within her soul. For me, singing is an integral part of who and what I am. While I was afraid to share my gift, I never went a day without a song on my lips. That is until the day the songs stopped coming. At the time, I was an avid fan of Garth Brooks and my music of choice was usually his first Greatest Hits CD which I would sing at the top of my lungs in the car from beginning to end. I was particularly fond of his song, “The River,” which tells the story of living life to the fullest and without fear. However one day, when the song came on I found myself sobbing instead of singing, as I realized I was hardly living my life to its fullest. I longed to share my musical gifts with the world: although I had long ago given up my childhood dreams of becoming a pop star, I just wanted to be able to get up in front of my church family and sing a solo on Sunday, or sign up for a small part in the local Community Chorus concert. So I stopped singing, and became a passive listener for a while. But, I was at the same time tormented by a drive bubbling up from within; in effect a passion to overcome my fears and live my own life to the fullest.
I was determined to take just one step, no matter how small. The same friend I
referenced earlier suggested that I meet with another dear friend who was also a
musician and voice teacher. He didn’t let me off the hook and started me off with voice training right away, refusing to let my fears get in the way. A little bit of positive reinforcement went along way and I was hooked. After a year or so of training, I enrolled in a local university: first, to fill an opening in the soprano section of an auditioned choir, but ultimately to get a Bachelor’s Degree in Voice Studies. I still wasn’t fulfilled, however. I wanted to learn anything and everything I could about music, so I then enrolled as a Master’s Student with an emphasis on Music History and Literature. Long a devotee of the repertoire of the Great American Songbook, I longed to receive an advanced degree so I could become a college professor and pass my knowledge onto a new generation.
It has been many years since the personal crisis that motivated me to finish both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree; write a textbook on the history of the American
Songbook; and become a voice teacher dedicated to molding and shaping voice students and helping them overcome their own insecurities and doubts. But, one thing still holds true after all this time. The secret to good performance whether you are a vocalist, instrumentalist, or visual artist is to access the passion which lies within your soul; for that drive will propel you past your fears, enabling you to become the best artist you can be!
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