Somewhere in our development as classical singers we are encouraged to entertain an idea about the journey we are embarking on. An idea which influences our minds to be aware that the process may lead to roads not taken, destinations unimagined. The years following graduation often feel like a somewhat dense grey fog of anticipation. Fame is so illusive and it can be seemingly alluring. Truth requires us to accept that our journey may not lead us to grace the grand opera stages of the world, and yet, it might.
This duality has been a defining factor, an important reminder in my process; to accept the journey as valid and necessary in order to keep perspective. Perspective has a voice which comes from within me. It is present, and it is important.
The voice often sounds as a fickle lover. Inflating and deflating the ego. I have accepted its necessity, but over time, determined the direction of its impact. I decided the voice sounds as a reminder that the process of becoming a better singer, a better performer, can lead to excellent things. This decision about the voice of doubt or approval shapes how I prepare, how I direct my efforts in the process of preparation.
In a few weeks, I will participate in a competition. I will stand in front of nameless strangers, whom, I should likely know. It is not a far off assumption to think that they may understand my voice better than me. All reasons for the voice of perspective to be very active.
I begin my process. I check notes, phrases, character, believability, synchronicity with my pianist. I choose a stylish and flattering clothing ensemble. All of these elements are important and necessary, but the art of visualization, the moment of honest departure from judgment is where I truly feel prepared. When I arrive in that place, in my mind’s eye, the phrases begin to sing themselves. Familiarity and understanding make way for exploration. I come to my harbor. A simultaneous arrival and departure.
The floor is smooth as glass- but I do not slip on it. It smells of dust and rosin, stale perfume and sweat- but I breathe easily. There are so many people in front of me, I can not distinguish the emotions which generally bombard my mind. Grimaced faces, smiling children, or uninterested lovers are caught in the rays of light, and they are too bright. I can not ascertain those who love, or do not love my sound and it is impossible to sing too loudly-too intensely-in this place. Freedom. A point of entry into a world where I finally do believe I am enough. The culmination of personal acceptance. When I sing from that place, a space so grand and open, and ready for me, there is no reason to holdback. To be small. To fear. I have arrived at acceptance, where my journey has become my destination.
“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” -T.S. Eliot