Monday, March 18, 2013


     I've been trying to come up with something to blog about, and I am blanking.  I want to bitch and moan about the weather.  It was in the 50s last week, now it's perfect out if you're a furry gnu.  However, bitching about the weather doesn't help anyone else very much, so no need to bitch about this confused weather.  March madness has to do with weather too.
   I want to talk about humility in this posting.  I set standards for myself which are too high, and I also judge myself way too harshly.  I'm a lousy judge when it comes to myself.  I tend to do that a lot when I am singing.  It's not humble to do that unless it is constructive.  Humility to me means that I accept who I am and what I am, treat myself and others with dignity and respect, and do whatever job I do professionally and graciously.  I like the definition of humility which states that  humility is the act of being humble.  That helps a lot doesn't it?  It's the act of being teachable in my opinion.  I need to listen to people and not go on the defensive.  It's hard for me sometimes to do that, but its humble if I am open and receptive. 
  I'll use singing as an example.  Although humility applies to everything, my craft is one area where I really need to remain teachable.  Guess what, it makes the coach of my teachers and coaches a lot easier.  I was told constructively, and I repeat constructively that my e vowel was a bit in the throat.  How do I get it out of the throat?  I listen for guidance on how to solve the problem, and work on it.  That's the humble approach.  The not humble approach is getting pissed off and frustrated and judging myself for the problem.   I did that in a recent lesson.  That wastes time, and the problem remains, and possibly gets worse.   Humility in a situation like that is accepting there is a problem, and listening to suggestions on how to solve it.  I would underline the word accepting.  Problem is not even the right word for this situation.  Thing to work on, or improve on sounds more positive in this case.  
     If I am not being humble, the ego is the winner.  However, lets keep in mind that the ego is two fold.   With the ego comes stubbornness, arrogance, sloth, anger, self pity.  I'm not talking about self confidence at all here, because self confidence is actually humble.  I'll go back to the singing example for a moment.  If I think that I sing well already, but need to keep working to get better and better, that is a humble attitude.  It means, okay, what can I do to work on my e vowel.  Versus, oh my e vowel is still in the throat at my age?  I'm bad, I can't even sing the e vowel properly.  That is the ego, not humility at all.  Humility is not thinking you suck at things, it is accepting things and working on them in a constructive manner.  
  Humility is a state of being, and not a matter of talking about it.  It's a matter of listening and being teachable.  It's a deflation of ego in a constructive way which helps a person grow.  If someone deflates an ego, they do so with constructive criticism, sometimes with a strong delivery when needed, but always with love and helpfulness in mind. As I am writing this, I'm thinking who am I to say how criticism should be delivered?  I am making a distinction between someone who is helpful versus toxic.  Now, if someone is intending to be helpful, it is my job as the person being right sized to listen and learn.  I like this topic, and learning humility is a life time process for me, so I will end this blog at this point.  

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Taking Risks

I have not written a blog since January, because it has been a long and busy winter.  Winter is always a a bit rough for me mentally and physically.  However, some good things happened such as playing a small role with Opera Philadelphia, in which I got to yell "merde" on stage.  Also, I got to be a part of New York Virtuoso Singers twenty fifth anniversary project in which twenty five total choral works premiered on stage and in the recording studio.  I got to see two operas at the Met.  A "Parsifal" with stunning singing and playing, and a "Don Carlo" which didn't do it for me.  
     The most famous tenor in opera right now, Jonas Kaufmann was unreal as Parsifal.   It is incredible to watch him be so committed to each role he sings.  Kaufmann sings Wagner without yelling, and also has a large variety of colors vocally and physically.  So, what makes this guy so great?
   First of all, he is incredibly gifted.  The powers from above gave him an incredible risk.  Second, and most importantly, he has the courage to take risks.  Risk taking is important, and both success and failure are inevitable in risk taking.  Sometimes when someone as great as Kaufmann takes a risk it doesn't work out.  I've witnessed that personally in the theatre, but I still admired the fact that he took the risk. 
   Better to take risks then not to take risks.  Easier said then done, right?  This idea of taking risks goes for a number of things.  Comfort zone doesn't work, I'm sorry to say.  It is temporary comfort, then it becomes unsatisfying really quickly.  At least this is the case for me.  So, I am going to put myself out there and take more risks.  Some of them are going to work,  some of them are going to fail.  This is the way it goes no matter who you are or how famous you are.
   Anyway, I have really missed writing blogs, because I had kind of lost my touch for a 
while.   Remember to keep breathing, and do not chase negative thoughts, because they are not real.  When I say that, I am talking about thoughts that shoot down the higher self.  Self degrading thoughts, that keep me from growing.  Have a good night everyone.