The Capacity for Honesty

The Capacity for Honesty
Wednesday musings...

As artists, we are striving for truth.  Truth in our craft, our artistry, our level of performance, how we live our lives.  However, in all this pursuit, do we somehow lose the objectivity of honesty with self? Or do we allow ourselves to find it?

The capacity to be honest with self is not the same as being insecure or second-guessing ourselves. Not at all.  Nor does the seemingly secure and focused one actually have the capacity to be REAL with what they offer. Honesty must happen within a learned objectivity.

It's an interesting balance.  It is not about beating yourself up, nor is it about looking for reassurance from others to validate your talent.  It is about developing a sense of objectivity of one's ability, one's talent, and how it develops and where it lives and how it best serves.

Stripping the desire away to look at the actual being of you takes guts.  This takes true determination and will and sense of self.  It may at first look like a frightening thing, and yet, not to get cliche, the truth could set you free.

Just because you WANT to sing something, doesn't make it a good idea.  Now, if you want to go out and karaoke with your friends, or sing it in your shower or in your living room because it makes you feel good, then great, go for it.  But if you are trying to build a career, wouldn't it make sense to sing and present yourself in a way that shows YOU in the best possible light - to get hired and to get noticed in a positive way?  

Do you want to keep presenting yourself and material that will not be taken seriously just because you WANT to sing that song or that aria?

This happens in all aspects of our business - I am thinking primarily of music theatre and opera.  I see it again and again.  And I see the extremes - the artists who have so much ability, choose appropriate material and can deliver it - and yet are so insecure in their ability because they second-guess more than they claim! Then the other extreme, performers who have much more ambition than talent, have the audacity to choose material that is not appropriate and don't understand why they don't get hired.  

Notice, I made a distinction between artist and performer.  Sometimes they are both, and sometimes they are not.  

An artist must be emotionally, psychically, and spiritually available to him/herself to discover that bared naked honesty.  Others are not. They may SAY they are artists, but artists REVEAL - to others, and ultimately to SELF.

Your teachers and coaches may be honest with you - but until you, as an artist, have the capacity to accept that honesty in yourself, you will never be able to truly find out what your capacity is and where your place is.  How you do fit into this business? How do you find your way? 

Ultimately the choice is yours. If you ask my opinion, I will give it to you.  Be careful what you ask for!  

But if you are wanting to sing something just because you like it - and it truly doesn't serve your talent nor your ability, I just wonder what drives that desire? We can't always have everything we want.  Surprise!  Suck it up.  If you want to be an artist, that means being an INDIVIDUAL that bring his/her own unique talent and development and discovery to the table.  It is not about wishing or would-a could-a should-a.  It is being REAL WITH SELF.  It is about questioning, acknowledging, recognizing, developing, nurturing, questioning again, discovering, claiming, re-claiming, and re-discovering again.

The capacity for honesty with self MUST happen to allow the TRUTH of an authentic artistic life.  If not, we are just pretending.


Susan Eichhorn Young covers all things voice—strong and sophisticated singing and speaking. 

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