Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Hearts, Flowers and Music

Happy Valentine's Day! As I am rather extremely unattached romantically this decade, I have no major plans. I'm behind on work, so I imagine I will be spending much of the day with Owen. I could do worse. Come to think of it, even with him being fictional and even with this involving work, it's still probably better than my last few dates and almost-dates. I'm sure chocolate will be involved at some point, considering I still have chocolate stashed around from last year's post-Valentine's Day sales. I may have a minor chocolate hoarding problem.

As for the music class, I survived! Actually, I did better than I expected to. I think I sounded reasonably good, and I wasn't quite as panic stricken as I thought I'd be. I still got a little tense, which made a few notes go sharp on me, and I was pretty much paralyzed, so there was next to no expression. But I got through it okay without messing up badly, and I had a good tone. It wasn't quite performance at the Met quality, but then it wasn't a performance at the Met. It was my first performance in a non-credit community college class.

And that shift in perspective seems to have helped make the difference. Somewhere along the way, I think the shift from self-consciousness to paralyzing stage fright came from a weird stroke of radical perfectionism. I was measuring myself against the wrong people. I have some God-given raw talent in this area, a nice voice and a pretty big range, as well as a decent musical background from years in band and church choirs, but very little voice training. Yet I wasn't measuring myself against other people who'd had some bits of training and mostly sang for fun. I was measuring myself against people who'd been taking private lessons since they were teens, were voice majors (my freshman roommate in college), who had advanced degrees in music or sang professionally. I knew I couldn't do as well as they did even as I expected myself to, and if I fell short at all, I felt like a failure, so I was even more nervous about the next time, and a downward spiral started so that every "failure" made me even more scared.

But the thing is, I have no desire to perform at the Met. I don't even like opera. I used to sometimes have dreams of performing on Broadway, but I knew I didn't want it badly enough to wait tables or make other sacrifices to get there, which meant I'd be at a disadvantage against those who were willing. I just want to be able to sing solos in church choir performances, sing at friends' weddings and maybe audition for community theater productions without having a panic attack. There are a few book events where they make authors show off some other talent, so it would be handy to be able to put the pipes to use, and next time I'm in a jazz club or piano bar and someone puts a microphone in my hand, I'd like to be able to have fun with it. Getting the right perspective and forcing myself to face my fears may turn this around.

The really freaky thing came after the performance when I had to stand there while the class and teacher critiqued me, and then the teacher made me go through the song again bit by bit, with her correcting me along the way. That's when I got really nervous and lost control of the tone, but by the end I'd settled down again. Now I have a few weeks before I have to sing again, but the song I have to learn this time is in Italian.

And now it's time to go snuggle up with Owen on a potentially snowy Valentine's Day afternoon.

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