I finally feel like I've completed my first year of college. Summer is here. I'm in that place of preparation again. The pressure's off. It's just me, my time, and the semester to come (and that still feels so far away).
I've learned so much this year. I've become a completely different musician. A part of it is just the huge amount of information and new skills that I have now. When I came into college, I was a natural musician with some vocal training, but I wasn't someone who could sight-read perfectly or who knew all the variations on solfege ("do, re, may"?). Now I can dictate (mostly) and I know so much. I fixed my technique so that my cords meet completely. I can't record everything that I've learned; it's too much!
But the most important thing I learned this year is something that I've always known but have never fully realized.
I don't perform to be the best, or to show off. My goal is never to impress people. That's why I've always been reluctant to perform in the past. But now I understand. I perform because I love music and I love to share it with other people. Music allows for this special, indescribable and incalculable connection between souls. As a performer, I can affect people. I can create something, with the help of music, that they've never experienced before.
I have been given a gift. How selfish of me to not share it with others! What would be the point of having it if I never used it for anyone but myself? I'm ashamed that I've refused when people have asked me to sing. Sure, I don't feel comfortable singing in a small setting, but I have to get over it. I can't be so selfish. I have to learn how to share. This is the barrier that I've broken through this year. When people ask me to sing, I sing!
Performing, when done correctly, is frightening because it makes the performer very vulnerable. I have to open up, to show pieces of my inner-self, in order to truly do the music justice. I have to be willing to share my joy and my grief. It's not easy, but I'm learning.
It's funny. I'm not the performing type. At all. I never would have guessed that I'd be studying this in college. It's such a surprise to me and yet, now that I'm doing it, it feels so natural. It's like I was made to sing opera. It's so rare to feel like you completely belong, that something is right. I love it and I'm glad that I found it. It will bring me happiness for a long time to come.
It's not even that this is the "easy" path. It's hard. I've actually disappointed people that I hold in very high respect. It is a lot of work and I have to put up with what others say.
I thought to write on this after stumbling upon one of Joyce DiDonato's old blogs. She explains it in this way: "But perhaps the most important memory of that period came without warning or lighting bolt...I felt some sort of an 'artistic shift' happening within me. It wasn't "I can sing this as well as her..." as I probably would have arrogantly and ignorantly professed a few years earlier. Not at ALL - she sang it gloriously. It was, instead, a sense that I had something I wanted to say with this music - something that wanted to be heard...consequently, a confidence began to build in me - not a fabricated buffer I gallantly called "stage presence", but something that was growing deep within - something that began a shift in my thinking from "I hope they like me", to simply aiming to express." (source)
This is exactly what I've learned. It was good to see someone else explain it (in a much more eloquent way than I ever could). It's also good that someone older and more accomplished than myself has discovered this. It's confirmation and that makes me happy.
This is the bottom line: I have a gift and I'm going to use it. It's not that I think I have a gift; I have confirmation from many others. From musicians and professionals, most importantly. I finally feel confident enough to pursue this.
God has put me on this path. I can only trust Him to take me where I'm meant to be.