On my lunch break from adjudicating and was thinking about how vulnerable we allow ourselves as performers, yet how empowered we become to access that vulnerability...
As I have the privilege of critiquing and speaking to young singers in Toronto this week, giving workshops and private sessions and last night, working and speaking with the cast of RENT opening in March it brings up something more...
How is that studio or rehearsal space viewed?
Again, these are MY musings, and I am offering my thoughts, observations and experiences which have all influenced me as an artist, performer and teacher in how I choose to create the space I inhabit.
My belief, and my goal is create a safe place - a sanctuary of sorts - for the artist to feel they can explore. They are not "on" in the studio. They are THERE. Being PRESENT in order to be open to discover and explore is absolutely crucial for an artist's development. One cannot be open if the space does not lend itself to a safety and clarity of purpose.
Perhaps that atmosphere is set by the teacher. I believe that is only one component. It is the relationship and the space between teacher and singer/actor/artist that creates that sanctity.
The philosophy of what you are there to do, will determine how you choose to regard that space. Both teacher and singer need to comfortable with this. Again, the boundaries needs to be respected from both sides of the piano! You don't need to agree on everything, but you do need to recognize and respect the boundaries of the other's person and reasons for being there. If the boundaries are not respected and acknowledged, there is no point to continue.
The sanctity of the studio or rehearsal space often means a form of client/teacher privilege. Privileges are not entitled. They are earned. Just as trust needs to be earned, that privilege is earned and must be respected. For process to develop the sanctity of that space that is shared and created by singer and teacher is for them.
What happens in the studio, stays in the studio.
This is important to recognize from BOTH sides of the piano. This has nothing to do with being secretive! This has to do with being respectful for the process.
Our sense of privacy is probably not a realistic one in this age of technology. Perhaps our stuff is out in the street anyway. However, in the world of creativity and process, in developing craft and discovering technical prowess, I would like to believe that certain aspects of sanctity can still be respected and relied on.
I am passionate about this. I have seen and experienced both that safe place to explore and feel vulnerable and know it was okay and bloom because of that safety, and I have seen and experienced that lack of privacy and how it inhibits, stifles and tries to appropriate.
Just as I believe a singer has every right to expect privacy in the studio, a place of safety to make choices in a rehearsal, a place to explore and try things that would not be for public consumption, so I believe teachers have a right to that privacy as well.
The quote of the week seems to be "It is a luxury to be understood". The privacy I speak of in the sanctity of the studio is simply that. Even talking directly and working one on one, a singer can misunderstand or reinterpret. A teacher may not always meet a singer where they need to be met. As with any relationship, vocabulary is built not learned. It is this vocabulary and luxury of discovery that begins to form the intimacy of this particular relationship in this particular space. It takes time and dedication and concentration and clarity of purpose.
I try not to assume, but alas, I do. Assumptions are bound to happen and misunderstandings develop, certain things are unclear, boundaries are blurred. It is all because of these possibilities due to our humanness, that the space of the studio needs to be clearly defined.
As artists developing craft to pursue or continue a career, we recognize this sanctity fully. We do not want or need our privacy in the street/on the internet/being discussed at random.
As teachers, our reputations are built not just on what we DO but HOW we do it - and what we work to create in that studio - good/bad/indifferent.
This is a slippery slope in our age of technology - with blogging and youtube and message boards. The more we realize what we require for our OWN space, the more we can respect and honour the space we share with others - teachers, colleagues, peers...
We must learn ourselves what constitutes our personal sanctity and space. We cannot assume it in ourselves or others.
We then can begin to discover how that space is shared with those around us and how we balance it!
Discovering the truth of about ourselves in our journey - individually and collectively - takes time and observation. Discovering where it is most safe to take that on takes time and choice. Maintaining that space of sanctity takes consistency and presence.
I challenge EACH of us - singer and teacher alike - to continue to work diligently to create that safe sanctuary in order for the discoveries to be made, embodied and empowered. Not to be abused, appropriated, misused or misguided. This awareness is crucial for our craft to have its life and creative force.
Take on the responsibility of finding that luxurious freedom of being understood and learning to understand, in order for the process to find truth and embodiment in the craft you say you are pursuing.
Don't be afraid to make a mistake - just learn something from it, respect it and make another choice. We are human after all.
Challenge yourself to find that sanctity within your craft and the space you create and inhabit with each colleague, teacher and coach you work with.
Susan Eichhorn Young
Susan Eichhorn Young covers all things voice—strong and sophisticated singing and speaking.
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