On my refrigerator I keep a quote from a wise human. By wise, I mean studied, experienced and fearless in life’s action even though he was afraid. It reads, “Stop worrying about whether you’re effective or important, Worry about what is possible for you to do, Which is always much greater than you imagine!” This statement or call is both huge and humbling but exact in its ability to inspire.
The idea of focusing on what I can do each day to effect the world and those around me seems like an authentic approach to being my best self. But doesn’t my culture expect me to conjure up some impact that I am not gifted to give? Exactly…. When I take a moment to calmly think about what my gift is and then offer that – I offer 100% of myself and rest 100% in that offering. I don’t have to carry around the tired virtue of guilt – or settle into a self-defeating spirit. I can walk humbly knowing that I am impacting the world (song) with my unique call (voice).
Another important voice in my life asks, “Do we waste time when we try to be effective rather than faithful?” What if we carry with us the gift we have and offer it simply? What if we can be present in a lesson or meeting, with a friend, in a rehearsal or event. My effort is transformed into a faithful presence which makes a big impact. Consider not just stabbing the dark with a cause. Consider your faithful presence – it is enough.
When an artist speaks her voice into the world, she does it in an effort to stay alive. To be alive, ignite her true self and connect the inner flame to the outer world. This is what I call “voice” and “song.” The voice within the artist and the song it produces in the world.
When an artist expresses himself in an effort to change the status quo – impact – make ripples in the still water… he may do so with the idea that he is contributing to the larger picture. But what if what he says is “the” point? What if what she sings “changes” everything? And what if that impact causes violence? Let me tell you, the artist thought it through and spoke it anyway.
It is his voice.
Let art shape you – not frustrate you. Let art inspire you to step into the cause it is pointing to – don’t get mad at the artist. Let art be the catalyst and you…the hero.
At about 5:20pm my mom and I would head to the church. This is when I knew that I had access to “the Church” and began calling it my first home…my own sanctuary. Each year the schedule was about the same. The Christmas eve service started at 7:00 with the small Methodist choir faithfuls, mom playing the organ and me in the front row of the loft just in her peripheral view. I began sitting in that loft with my matching burgundy robe at the age of 7. This is when the osmosis portion of my voice journey began. I sang as a little girl, felt the depth of any Streisand or Carpenter lyric, but didn’t identify as a singer. No, I was a dancer, then a french horn player, then a cheerleader. It wasn’t until I was 15 that I received formal voice lessons which is a story for another day.
I value the internal work that happens when I watch, listen and emulate singers. As a young singer to be, I gained presence. I learned to match pitches. I learned complicated rhythms and timing all while having fun singing into an unplugged microphone (and some tap classes). There is a very important aspect of teaching young singers to listen to good, bad, professional and amateur singers. To give time to singing in the church choir, praise band and karaoke at middle school sleepovers. To make time to attend local high school musical productions, residential theater and Broadway traveling troupes who come to town.
Listening, emulating and enjoying the process of singing is a wonderful first step to Becoming….a voice in the song.