I’ve been doing alot of recording lately. This is a good exercise in some ways, and I love putting what I’m doing right now into a more concrete form, that I know I will look back one day and laugh at. I will shake my head at the mannerisms I had, at how young I was, at how immature my technique was.
Even though I know this, I have realized through these recording sessions that I am much more imperfect that I’d like to be. In everyday lessons, performances, coachings, I seem to be able to see my progress as more of a journey, but the minute I step into the recording studio, my left brain starts screaming at me:
“You haven’t practised enough to be here.”
“You’re not even sure how to pronounce all the words perfectly.”
“Every time you try to pull off that pianissimo, your voice shakes and cuts out.”
As much as I try to re-create the feeling of performance in the recording studio, I always end up holding myself up to an impossible ideal, and when I listen to myself, I often can’t help but cringe. Is everyone hearing the mistakes that I am? Is everyone as critical as I am?
This attitude then brings itself into my career plans. My ambitious plans will, hopefully, push me out onto the world stage in a very short amount of time, and I will start to be compared to people that have been professionals for much longer than I have.
“You make too many mistakes to let important directors hear you.”
“You should spend a few years exactly where you are, letting things settle and get comfortable.”
“Who do you think you are to compete with young singers from Toronto, New York, Paris, Berlin? Do you really think they’ll take you seriously?”
It seems the bigger my dreams get, and the closer to reality they become, the more doubt rises up in my mind about whether I will actually succeed. I am sometimes afraid of my own ambition, afraid to leave my safety net and try my hand in the houses overseas. And most of all, I am terrified that I will have spent thousands of dollars and hours and hours of work and emotional ups and downs, only to come crawling back to Winnipeg with my tail between my legs, having proven my doubts and fears true. I am afraid that I may have to admit defeat, but at the same time I know how unhappy I will be if I never try.
Today in a masterclass, the instructor said something that rang true, true, true.
“If you make a mistake, you know it will be a wonderful, artistic, beautiful mistake.”
On so many levels, this affected me. On the stage, and in recordings, every professional makes mistakes. I will never sing without mistakes, and perhaps it should be that I should not have it any other way. In life, mistakes will be made, and all successful people make horrible mistakes. They try a path that does not work, they go back to the fork in the road, they choose another path. But they always TRY, and they never GIVE UP just because they may fail. I think I’ve learned these things already in life, but maybe it’s time for me to re-learn that even my mistakes, made in earnest, will always be beautiful.