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I have written about path and journey before, but it has come up in several places over last couple of weeks and I thought it was time to explore it again.
What about that "path" and where are we going?
I am a big "why" person: when singers come to consult with me, or study with me, when colleagues make statements and their language reveals something to me that is larger than the statement, I ask WHY? I don't do it to be a pain in the ass. I query in order to find the truth in the language that is being used, or the way in which someone is hiding in plain sight.
Language can also reveal stagnation, self-sabotage, or simply just not knowing, no experience, no true discovery yet. None of that is "bad" on its own: it simply reveals to the listener where that speaker is.
Some of these "paths" queries come in question form, and some in statement form. They are still queries.
As a singer, no matter the genre, we do not have the luxury of a one-size-fits-all path. If you are going to be a doctor, there is a protocol that gets you onto that path, along that path, and when complete it, you are a doctor. Voila.
We do not have that clarity.
What we DO have is the luxury of self-discovery and creating that path that will be uniquely ours. It is scary, frustrating, annoying and exhilarating and exciting.
So where are you going? Sometimes that determines where you are, and will allow you to see for yourself what you need to create that path.
Often, we must work backwards from the question, or the statement we reveal.
Here are some examples: When a singer walks in and says "I wanna sing at the Met" or "I wanna be on Broadway" guess what my first question is? Yes, you guessed it: "why"?
Often the allure of the unknown is bright and shiny and the reality of what that actually MEANS hasn't sunk in. What does it MEAN to be ready to be there? What do you have to do? Do you have enough bread crumbs to weave yourself back to where you actually are right now, in order to build a focus of intention to that particular goal? Why is it that important to you to be "there"? What does it represent to you?
"I don't sound like xyz; I need to sound more like that so I can get a job."
Again, I ask "why". Language reveals. This is a goal to disaster because sounding more like so-and-so isn't going to get you a job. Sounding more like YOU is going to get you more like YOU, and if they want YOU then YOU get the job.
"I want a career." And again, I ask "why"? and "doing what?" What does the word "career" mean to you?
Often, those "lofty goals" will change as you become more and more clear about who you are, why you are, and how you are. They become less important because the path becomes clearer in its specificity of NOW.
What inspires you? Who inspires you? Why?
Are you aware there is a difference between making music and making a living making music?
Do you have talent, tenacity and training and the eagerness, energy & focus to hone all of it?
Wanting it doesn't make it so.
We often still hear "If you want a career you must do...." as if there is a holy grail of knowledge that creates a career path.
That just isn't so. Not as performers.
You can be talented, go to the "right" schools, sing for the "right" people, apply for the "right" programs, and still be sitting at home with no career.
There are others that don't "follow the protocol" of "right" - and somehow they develop a career.
Well, a little bit of luck doesn't hurt. Being in the right place at the right time doesn't hurt.
And the big one: being READY in case it's time. There is nothing worse than missing an opportunity because you weren't ready.
And what is ready? Revealing YOU through your craft. Claiming YOUR authenticity through the medium you wish to be seen in. That means training, and discovery and self-discovery, and more honing, and more training, and more discovery!
I have been listening carefully to the language used by people in the business - be it opera or music theatre - and it reveals the same: "That sounds great on you." "You wear that well." "As soon as I heard him I knew he would wear this character well."
It's about YOU being ready. YOU. YOU to step in and embody that song, that role, that repertoire.
Not you sounding like the other people that wear that; Not you doing what everybody else does; Not you pretending; not you "schmacting"; not you "winging it"; not you "faking it til you make it".
JUST YOU. Developing, evolving, emerging, finishing. YOU and your craft.
So, the path to where exactly? Are you going to be YOU when you get there or did you forget that THAT path - to the authenticity of YOU - is more important than anything else?
You want a career? What are YOU doing to make it happen? Have you developed YOU enough to have one if it arrives? Do you understand all the components? Can you do them all? What are you lacking? What needs more YOU?
Ah, the questions reveal where the path is - and guess what? Once you start to answer the questions, and DO the answers...you are ON the path. The path to YOU.
Let that guide you to the potency of destination that will keep morphing and growing with you.
The day we "arrive" is the day we quit growing.
The path is whatever you choose to forge. It's how you take it on that matters now.
Susan Eichhorn Young covers all things voice—strong and sophisticated singing and speaking.
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