For their Off Book series, the team at LOOC asked some tough and thoughtful questions of me to share with their young artists. They wanted to know what I would tell my younger self and what lessons have been important on my own musical journey.
My answer to both: Don’t wait!
Don’t wait …To be perfect
As musicians we strive for perfection; to execute our repertoire flawlessly, to create the most beautiful musical phrase, to communicate the emotional intention of our music and to share powerful stories. These elements are everything. But they are subjective, and we can withhold the most meaningful performances and connections with our audience if we don’t at some point choose to share things where they are and allow our artistry to shine through our humanness and vulnerability.
As performers we are visible on many levels. Self-image, self-confidence, being comfortable in your own skin and the fear of really being seen as your authentic self are some of the inner demons and gatekeepers that musicians often battle. For 20+ years, in addition to worrying that someone wouldn’t like my playing (and by extension they wouldn’t like me), I worried about the pooch of my belly and my jiggly arms. I often subconsciously held my breath or tried to sit a certain way and actually made my own performances much more likely to derail. Don’t wait to address these issues. Find ways to embrace your “imperfections” because they make you the unique wonderful human and artist that you are.
Which brings me directly to my next points:
Don’t wait …To love yourself
Simple and often not so easy. Give yourself the same grace you give others. Allow yourself to be beautifully imperfect.
Don’t wait …To ask for help
Growing as an artist, just like growing a human, does in fact take a village. My family taught me to be resilient and independent – but also proud. These can be great qualities, I think. But we all need help sometimes to navigate tricky situations and offset overwhelm. Some of my most important life lessons were learning to ask for help and accepting it graciously when offered…and I am still a student.
Don’t wait …To ask questions
How many times do we sit silently during a Q&A session after a masterclass or presentation? Chances are everyone else has similar questions so ask away and get the conversation going. Seek clarity from your teachers, mentors and coaches. Be curious and set yourself up to be a lifelong learner. The day I don’t learn something new or gain a new insight might as well be my last.
Don’t wait …To try something new or outside of your wheelhouse
It is so easy to pigeonhole ourselves with our own limiting beliefs: “I only sing…,” “I’m not athletic,” “I can’t do….”
We grow when we challenge ourselves. Approaching our musicmaking (and our life) with a sense of play and discovery is fun and often leads to new opportunities or a new step on our journey. A coach of mine says to ‘jump and build the parachute on the way down.’ Scary, yes but exciting and a way to find out what we really can and want to do.
Don’t wait …To do the work
We all experience frustration when we are told to wait. And it is true that some things require wait time such as technique and voice building. Luckily there is so much else to be done. Listen to great singers, learn your languages, develop a dependable learning process and deepen your practice. Consider your nonmusical skills as well.
Don’t wait …To get validation of your own artistry
Do the thing, create the music, master your instrument, show up as a professional, show up how you want to be seen.
You can do all of this before anyone else labels you as such or before you are “recognized” as a singer or a musician or a promising young artist. OK- you get my drift.
Don’t wait … To believe you are enough
Be your wonderfully messy, beautiful, unique and authentic self. When you believe in and nurture your true self, you find your voice and can share it with the world.
Please reach out if something resonated with you. Follow me at In-tune Artistry on IG and FB and DM me to connect and start a conversation. – Cara Chowning