Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Open to Wisdom

I have always been resistant to authority, leery of "experts," and closed off to unsolicited advice from musicians. I am self-taught in many ways, and I suppose I can be a bit of a snob when it comes to education. It's just that I recall one too many situations with guitar dudes giving me advice as a substitute for clever pickup lines and bored teachers in my public middle school getting through the day the way I used to drag myself through a 4 hour shift at my first job at the hosiery counter in J.C. Penneys. I just don't trust everyone to give me good advice.

But one day last year, I decided I needed help. I needed to find someone who could guide me through this tricky world we call the Music Industry. I needed a producer or a manager or just someone who would kick my ass and give it to me straight. I wanted to find someone with a genuine love of music and writing who could see my own very serious commitment as well. I found that person several months ago, and it has been life changing.

David and I spend several hours a week practicing and writing. He spends a lot of time talking, and I spend a lot of time listening. He tells me when the notes suck and when I lack feeling. He also tells me he believes in me and the music I have to share with the world. Being in this position has made me empathize more with my students. It is challenging to hear criticism, even if you get compliments as well, but if I want to grow and progress into the great musician and singer I know I can be, then I have to listen and trust.

Because of my work with David, I am now on a tight schedule that includes running, meditation, singing exercises, piano practice, guitar practice, diction, song interpretation, and writing. I only socialize on the weekends and by the end of the day I am falling asleep faster than ever before. I love it. I love the discipline and focus and I love feeling the flexibility increase in my vocal chords as I work to get back the range I once had from singing 1st Soprano in choirs for 8 years.

The process has reminded me of what it is like to be a music student. I went to a public performing arts high school similar to the one in the movie and T.V. show, "Fame." We didn't have any bored J.C. Penney-worthy faculty at that school, and I loved being their student. I had the same kind of discipline then (better actually) as I do now. I remember spending each morning in the piano lab practicing for one hour before school, 3 hours of music classes scattered among my academic classes, and then after the final bell rang, it was off to a musical theatre rehearsal. I performed church solos several times a month, and I remember loving the life of a serious music student. I feel something similar these days.

It is comforting to trust someone else and become open to their wisdom. The process has made me respect the student's position more than I had before. I suppose I am beginning to better understand the role of a teacher, and therefore gaining a new respect for the way I make my living. A good teacher is someone who offers you wisdom without the influence of their ego, believes in you and what you are capable of accomplishing, and isn't afraid to push you when you are slacking in areas you know you can improve.

Becoming open to wisdom is making my life a little easier. David is a great teacher, and I am learning so much about patience, trust, and discipline. I have noticed that as I become more open to the wisdom in others, I begin to relax a little more about this life, and I begin to feel less alone in this world.

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