I read something yesterday that really struck me.
It was a Seth Godin blog entry--for those of you who regularly read me, you know I'm a HUGE fan of his--and it discussed technique.
(for anyone who is interested in reading the original post, it can be found here)
"It’s possible that you need to be braver instead."
I felt so seen, reading this on my screen was practically a slap in the face.
For so long, I've been working on my craft, honing my skills and selecting my perfect audition packet.
I've researched teachers and different techniques, and compared and contrasted their benefits, limitations and the unique opportunities working with them provides my voice.
I've updated my headshots AGAIN (begrudgingly--if the current stars at the Met can use their headshots from 1970, I get to use my shot from seven years ago, fair dinkum).
I've spent hundreds of dollars I REALLY could not afford on new recordings, and thousands more on the lessons and coachings to get them to their current prep level so that I could apply for YAP auditions (which I ALSO really couldn't afford).
I've worked a million degrading hours in ridiculous jobs that I was seriously overqualified for.
...what good is ANY of that effort if I never get out there in front of people and actually DO the thing I've been training to do?!?
There is a weird thing that happens to singers who get overly-involved in their own developmental process. They become obsessed with perfection, driven to 'develop their voice' when in actuality, all they are doing are practices in minutia. It's a sort of willful Peter Pan syndrome, a forced belief in their own vocal immaturity. It's the perfect escape from the high pressure singing world--if you never allow yourself to leave the growing process, then you never truly 'grow up' at all.
The Great Mikhael Baryshnikov once said, "...my jump is not high enough, my twists are not perfect, I can't place my leg behind my ear. Please don't do that. Sometimes there is such an obsession with the technique that this can kill your best impulses. Remember that communicating with a form of art means being vulnerable, being imperfect. And most of the time is much more interesting. Believe me "
...that dude is still dancing at the age of 71. Two years ago, I saw his traveling one-man dance show when it passed through Chicago. He was 69 and pure perfection--he was ELECTRIC onstage, and at 69, I can pretty much guarantee he was not technically accurate in everything he did onstage...and nobody cared.
Seth calls it like he sees it in his blog. Maybe, he challenges us, it isn't a matter of being 'ready' for the world. Maybe it isn't your technique that's the issue.
Maybe what's holding you back isn't the recording session you can't afford, or the headshots you desperately need to update, or the coach you haven't gotten in to see in a while.
Maybe ...just maybe...there isn't anything wrong with your voice as it currently stands at all.
Maybe it's just an issue of clinging to the insecurities, the safety net of 'not yet', the insistence that you're still developing, you're still working stuff out, you're not done cooking yet...
Any chef will tell you that exposing ingredients to consistent heat over long periods of time results in mature, caramelized flavors.
Any GOOD chef will tell you that eventually, you can and will overcook anything.
Leave any quality ingredient exposed to heat for too long, and you run the risk of ruining it entirely.
Caramelization is one thing--charred or burnt to a crisp is another.
At some point, you have to pull the bird out of the oven.
So...this past weekend, I took the plunge. I did a vocal competition, my first one in years. I wasn't even close to perfect.
I was nervous and excited and yes, I was even scared.
I almost didn't get out of the car ('I can turn around and drive home and nobody would say anything about it to me...')
But I did it.
I did the Work.
And guess what?
It was a LOVELY experience.
Take a plunge, friends. It's worth the risk to grow.