There’s a phrase I have always hated. “Something to fall back on.” As if what you’re doing with your life is unreliable, frivolous, unimportant, and worst of all, something that you’re really not that good at so don’t even bother to pursue it, no matter now passionate you feel about it.
But I’ve given that phrase a bit of thought this last week. I attended Lynn Eustis’ sessions at the NATS conference on Mental Health and the Singer. Lynn is on the faculty at University of North Texas and is the author or a book called The Singer’s Ego. She is writing a follow-up book called The Teacher’s Ego, which I will be ordering when it comes out. Her sessions were largely discussions between her and the attendees about why singers are as crazy as they are. A singer’s instrument is so personal. If three singers get up and sing “Caro nome” and each sings it with the same technical ability – hits all the right notes at the right times and with the right diction – and with the same amount of emotional investment (see previous blog entry on honesty), they will still all sound different. And someone is not going to like one of them for whatever reason, valid or not. It is hard to separate someone not liking your voice from someone not liking you. No wonder singers are neurotic.
If you as a singer invest yourself so fully in your craft and artistry to the detriment of your other interests, you are not a well-rounded person and you do not having something to “fall back on.” Not in case singing doesn’t work out for you. But in your life. Knowing what is going on in the world, participating in things that aren’t necessarily about networking and auditioning, having fun, being interesting.
I’m guilty of this. My husband was really into Showtime’s The Tudors while it was on, and we were talking about Catherine Howard’s final words at her execution, and I quoted them to him. Now, he is very interested in all things Renaissance and has read many well-researched books on the subject and he looked at me and said, “How do you know that?” and I said, “It’s the final page of Libby Larsen’s song cycle, Try me, good King.” He laughed and said “Everything you know is because of a piece of music.”
Lots of things are hitting me lately, and that was one of them. My life is not balanced. I’m probably 90/10 about the music. I can’t guarantee that I’ll make the switch to 50/50 or even 60/40, but if I could get 65/35, I think I could live with that.