My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends–
It gives a lovely light.
My candle is burning on one end with a mind-numbing day job that requires me to be up and at’em by 6:00 AM on weekdays. On the other end, my candle is burning hot and fast with singing obligations: a lucrative short-term church gig (One of these day’s, I’ll touch on what it’s like to be an outspoken atheist who is frequently employed by churches) which requires a midweek rehearsal and eliminates any chance of sleeping in on Sunday; a fairly ambitious concert of opera scenes that I feel woefully unprepared for; a voice studio recital that should be no big deal, but I’m still majorly stressing about because that’s just what I do. I’m exhausted and until the check comes in from the church, I’m broke.
With all of this on my mind and weighing down my body, and under the toxic influence of Debbie Voigt’s Wagner and Strauss album,* I walked into this week’s voice lesson.
“I’ve been listening to a lot of big, fat music,” I declared to my teacher.
“Wagner and Strauss and Turandot.”
” . . . and I want to sing it.”
She just laughed.
“Can I sing Es Gibt Ein Reich?”
“You have plenty of time to sing all that stuff later. You want to be able to sing into your old age, don’t you?”
I accepted defeat while grumbling something about Es Gibt not even being that heavy. My relationship with my voice teacher (who will no doubt read this, so I want to make it clear, even as I whine, that I love her, she is an excellent teacher, and my singing was awful before I met her.) is kind of like my relationship with my mother (who will also read this, and who I also love): I often hate what she has to say to me, and she is always right.
I spent most of the lesson thinking about the hating what she has to say to me part, and forgetting the part about her being right. In an effort to figure out what the heck I’m going to sing in her recital next week, I banged through four or five arias, pushing back against her admonishment to not sing emotionally, but to sing technically and trust that the emotion will come through. This has been my greatest struggle as a singer: always thinking that I have to do something to affect my singing, to make it pretty. What I always find is that when I stop trying so hard and thinking so much and just let my voice do it’s thing, that’s when my singing is at its best.
Letting go. Submitting. Resisting the urge to control evrerything. Is there anything more difficult?
*Say what you will. I’m Team Debbie for life.