A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing...

happy Labor/Labour Day weekend and the gateway to the fall season!

As we embark into a new semester,  a new audition season,  a new performance season,  there are always things to consider,  re-visit,  tweak,  and discover!

Fall is my favorite time of year.  This is really the "new" year for me,  and so I hope re-visiting old topics in new ways will be a way of ushering in that new year!

We've all heard that saying "a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing".

Last week,  I came across a social media post that was a singer's list of "audition to-dos" she has gathered from a masterclass with a director.  She was excited about what she learned,  and you cannot fault her for that.  She wanted to share her knowledge,  which was very generous.

However...

Much of what she wrote down was not accurate:  maybe accurate in certain circumstances,  maybe accurate pertaining to that particular director, or maybe not accurate at all.

Her instinct to share her new-found knowledge was lovely,  however,  that knowledge did not have a context,  and if someone were to take that "advice" literally,  it might have been a horrible mistake.

In this "instant" society we live in,  we literally have everything at our fingertips.  It doesn't make it correct;  just cause it's on the Internet doesn't make it true!

The same can be said for those we "meet" on Facebook or discuss things with on other forms of social media.   It doesn't mean a person is deliberately trying to be deceptive or give your wrong information!  In fact,  often that person is trying to be helpful. 

We must recognize the source:  who is offering this knowledge?  What authority do they have?  Is it first hand knowledge, or 2nd hand,  or a friend of a friend or interpreted from someone's account of something?

I challenged this young and enthusiastic singer to clarify her points and put them in context.  She began to see what I meant:  some of her points were specific to the master class she was involved in and wouldn't have a more universal "truth" the way she accounted it.

Some of her points might have relevance with the director who was offering the master class.

Some had no relevance at all.

And,  all points were HER interpretation,  not a prepared sheet of information from the director. She was making notes based on what said director was saying/or what she THOUGHT he was saying.

Context means EVERYTHING.

By all means, explore!  Ask questions,  read,  share your findings!  However,  when you DO share make it clear to your readers or the people you discuss things with that this is just YOUR interpretation of the events,  not a syllabus created for you by the person offering the information in the first place.

When you read - (including this blog!!!) - know who is offering you the information and what the purpose is.  Does this person have experience and information in which to partake?  Does it make sense to you to listen?  Does it make sense for you to simply observe and take it with a grain of salt, or does it hit you on a gut level and maybe you need to pay closer attention?  And if so,  why pay closer attention?

There is no black & white entirely in the business of show or in the pursuit of craft and artistic development.  Guidelines, perhaps;  a basis of structure,  perhaps;  motivation,  perhaps;  But not "always do this",  "never do this".  As soon as you see that,  there will be someone who says "I like just the opposite".

Perhaps this reveals the answers then.  To every "do this"  there is a "do that".

It is up to YOU the emerging and developing performer to discover and create what works for YOU within the parameters of the business you are pursuing a a career in.

You need to know what you bring into the room.

You need to know how to find your authenticity in voice, and presentation.

You need to know who you are in that moment.

You need to know how to be comfortable in your own skin.

You need to know how own your audition,  your rehearsal process,  being a colleague,  your callback,  your conversations with others in the business,  and more.

YOU need to figure that out.

Nobody can tell you that so-and-so said it so it must be true. 

Any of the knowledge we have is a dangerous thing if we don't open up the context and discover how we inhabit it.  How do we figure that out?  We learn to live it,  and live WITH it.

Knowledge,  gravitas,  presence,  true understanding,  all come from time,  experience and paying attention to small grains of information and discovering where it leads.

There are no tricks;

There are no lists;

There are no magic formulas;

There is work.  There is commitment.  There is time.  There is perseverance.  There is determination.  There is eagerness.  There is questioning.  There is seeking.

Then,  the knowledge deepens and you are able to begin to claim what you do not yet own.

Happy "NEW" year.  Relish the journey.  It is yours and yours alone to enjoy and discover!

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

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