Thursday, December 14, 2017

Community with a Capital "C"

Another thing I've struggled with this month (I'm not even going to try to hide it with a word like navigate or grapple) is my identity as a musician. Ever since coming back to MN, I haven't felt like an authentic musician and the more I think about it, even in college, I resented having to go into rehearse/practice when it was a beautiful, sunny day. It felt like a constraint of freedom and for what purpose-to make music together, to perform, to be disciplined after I have been disciplined all day and then some, most nights. Now that a potential physical ailment is again occurring as a barrier to my vocal development, perhaps this is a sign that I really should accept the opportunity to close this chapter and open a new one. To be artful and creative in other ways like dance-the activity that makes me smile regardless of my stress level. Sure, I could do vocal therapy or voice lessons, but is that really how I want to spend my free time, perfecting something that only needs perfecting according to someone's definition? My voice is my voice and that will never change-even if that means I'm no longer a classical musician-I can accept that. That was never my goal. My goal was to make Art with a capital A and for a long time I thought that meant you had to be proficient in music literacy and ear training. Now,  I want to make Art with a capital A and Community with a C. One of my staff said something at staff training over a month ago that has really stuck with me. Do we want to be an intentional community that communes by singing or a singing group that implies a community? I'll be fully transparent. None of my closest friends have ever been musicians, have ever been from that so-called community. What music ensemble experiences have consisted of for me is a lot of "you're not good enough," "your schedule doesn't allow you to do x so you can't do y", "you need to switch studios [for the fourth time in four years]", "we're not going to make music to accommodate others," "your voice doesn't blend," "your voice," etc. etc. etc. Is this really how I want to fill my free time? The wholehearted answer is NO! Does this mean I can't be a "musician"? Absolutely not! Just not in the way I have done for so long-but with the closing of a chapter, comes an opening, and I'm excited to see what that is come 2018. I've debated community choirs that only learn music by ear, that sing for the message, even some church choirs (though I don't think I want that regular commitment). I'm done trying to be humble, prideful, or hide my feelings regarding this. Classical musician out-until I want to/if I want to-then that can be there for me-but I have to understand the tremendous work, discipline, patience, and time that would require. And at this point, that's not what I need.

I need activities that let me be me, embrace me wholeheartedly, accept and love me for who I am, unconditionally. That build community with a C-women's circles, non-technique dancing, running without a timer, hiking without a mission. Unplanned time is certainly a goal of mine for 2018, but for now I am officially closing up shop as a classical musician and just as I acknowledge in my thesis,  am accepting my limitations, now both physical, mental, and frankly spiritual at this point. I'm done denying myself because I don't fit someone else's standards. That's not transformative or life-giving. Quite the opposite. Of course I will go support others and when I am accepted as I am, join. But I'm done desiring to be on the stage as an audience member, of saying if only I would practice, etc. etc. I chose a different path and that is more than okay.  My path is to create Community through Music. 

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