Despite the headline this isn’t one of those birthday letters. No, I’m going to a singer’s workshop this weekend. To an improvisation workshop. And I’m totally nervous. Stage fright. You thought one could have stage fright only when performing. Oh no. Singing solo in front of about 15 singing teachers and professional singers can be quite intimidating.
The last time I went to one of these workshops was exactly two years ago. Same date, same place. And I’ve been thinking about my life then and now. Of course the obvious change is in my son. 2 1/2 is quite different from 4 1/2. And since he’s in preschool now I have my mornings to myself. That’s an improvement for sure. This hasn’t made me as productive as I thought it would. But then two years ago I didn’t have a blog…
But the main change for me (apart from the blog which is really more important to me than I would have thought) is that now I’m about 22 pounds lighter. Of course that’s the most important thing when you go to a singing workshop – the way you look. I can’t believe that this is so much on my mind. Of course it’s totally realistic that most people won’t even notice since they maybe have a mental image of me that’s dating back to ten years ago when I went to the first of these workshops. And if they notice, I feel a little weird when somebody says, “Wow. You sure have lost weight. How did you do it.” Because let’s face it, nobody turned to me two years ago and said, “Wow. You sure have gained weight. How did you do it?” (If you’re interested in how I did it I’ll point you to my “spring dieting“-series which is quite incoherent but trying to cover the topic in length. And no, I didn’t diet, I’m just eating like a healthy person. And meditating.)
Then of course there is the question of what to wear. You know, it should be something that says, “I’m a real cool artist, and fashion conscious but cool enough not to worry overmuch. And although I am a singer and used to be center-stage, my ego isn’t inflated at all.” Do you know where to shop for clothes like this? Well, I’ll go for the same clothes I wear everyday. Though they rather say, “I like comfortable clothes. Stretch jeans and a tee. With sneakers.” When dressing for a workshop it is very important to wear somethings that allows circulation and doesn’t leave you exposed when bending over or dancing.
So apart from my insecurities about that, which are ridiculous, there is my stage fright and the fact that I feel like I’m slowly going nuts. Which is quite normal at this point. I know it, the minute I set foot there and start to sing, everything will be alright. It’s neither the first singing workshop nor the first of Rhiannon’s singing workshops that I’m attending. I’ll probably know a lot of the attendees. I will probably know a lot of the exercises. And since there are three teachers this time (that’s really exiting and new) we will be doing a little more group singing I suppose. Which suits me fine.
Like two years before I have the feeling that I don’t really belong there. I’m scared. When I read about the workshop and that it was for advanced singers only I momentarily panicked. Would I be allowed in? That was only my fear speaking. When I phoned the woman who’s organizing the workshop she laughed and said, “You have been part of these workshops for so many years. Are you crazy?” I suppose I am in a way. Last time I kept telling people that there were only professional singers and singing teachers there. Wow. I constantly have to remind myself that I am a singing teacher as well. That though I’m not working as a jazz singer nowadays I could if I wanted to.
I feel like I am changing sizes every other minute. One minute I know what I can do and feel proud for it. The other minute I fell insecure and frightened. In the end it doesn’t matter at all. It isn’t for me to judge. Music is not a competitive sport.
But I have to constantly remind myself about this because when I learned to play the piano it seemed to be about being better and faster and competition. Like when I started studying musicology: There were about 120 students in the room and the professor said, “Only twenty of you will have a job related to music. Only two will work as musicologists.” The funny thing is that I know of at least four other people who were in that room with me, all of them working in some music-related field and three of them working as musicologists.
So why am I writing about this. Nobody wants to hear me debating things in my mind, right? Well, I do because I know that I’m not alone in this. Especially when it comes to creative endeavors we all feel like we’re changing sizes all the time. At least I have the advantage of knowing that everything will feel fine when I’m actually there. And there will be moments when singing will feel like soaring high, and there will be moments when singing will feel like finding a path through the woods with a torch, stumbling over roots and being hit by branches. There will be amazing women there and very few men, there will be people I’ve met before and people I haven’t.
Going there is always very special since singing mostly is quite lonely. There is only one singer in a band. And to meet so many amazing singers (they are always amazing) in such an atmosphere of cordiality and warmth is a privilege.
So while I’m trembling and feeling like I’m going nuts I’m at the same time filled with joy to the brim.