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Friday, August 19, 2011

Finding the courage to be myself

I turned down an invitation to party till dawn at The Connection tonight. On one hand, I don't really want to be a regular fixture there, and on the other hand, I don't want to do anymore damage to my vocal cords. It just gets too loud there and I was more concerned about that than anything else. I even stopped myself from having a cigarette yesterday, when smoking is something I do so rarely that I never deny myself the pleasure. I really want to get serious about singing and it's going to definitely be a holistic (and Herculean) effort. I found a little encouragement that I'm on the right track from a Huffington Post article about three simple steps to finding the courage to be yourself. Here are the steps, with my own commentary.

1) Knowledge Is Power

According to the writer, you must know your passions and capabilities. Just the other day I sat back and remembered my first year and a half in college when I would do all of my homework assignments weeks in advance, always stayed caught up on my work, and had a 4.0. I wonder where that person is, or if life just gets too complicated to keep up a pace like that?

I don't think it will help my singing to go overboard like that, but I really could use some of that focus and drive to learn my jazz piano voicings. It will definitely help me learn songs beyond "plunking" out the melody. I definitely can't let myself off the hook on this one knowing what I am capable of.

2) Get Into The Flow

Music has always gotten me into the flow. ALWAYS. I actually can't listen to music when I need to focus on something else. If I need to focus, I turn on the tv, talk radio, or NPR. My whole desire to sing is driven from the need to be engage in the transcendental process of making music.

3) Embody What You Believe In

Here the writer quotes Gandhi:
"[h]appiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony."

When I practiced Nichiren Buddhism, part of the reason why we looked at the script of "Nam Myoho Renge Kyo" while chanting it is to unify our mind and action. If you are staring at the law of cause and effect, and chanting it at the same time, you are creating this sort of unity and getting into the flow as mentioned before.

I need to release the performer that I know is within me, I need to embody the performer that I know is within me, and I need to put her on display for everyone to see.

It's funny that my main vocal flaw right now is that I'm singing in a manner that amplifies my voice more in my own head instead of out in the open where others can hear it. That's where my hidden singing diva is performing her songs as well. She knows how to spin a song, how to be a vamp, how to be innocent and funny. The only problem is, she's always played to an audience of one, and she needs someone besides me to be her biggest fan.

I may have to feign courage for a while, but in the end I can accept nothing less than a complete expression of all parts of me. Getting over my fear of singing (in front of others) is only step one.

The writer finishes with this quote from Steve Jobs:
"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life... Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."

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