I grew up Catholic, but with a non-Catholic mother. And although she had to swear that she would raise her children Catholic when she married my very Catholic father, she found ways to get around that. The whole idea of Lenten sacrifice was something that she really couldn’t wrap her head around. She never sacrificed anything if it didn’t suit her or if she couldn’t use it to make herself look good (I know that sounds harsh, but I’m being honest). No meat on Fridays? She didn’t like fish and her attitude was, “God doesn’t want us to go hungry.” Same thing for fasting – perhaps it was having lived through depression and war, but the idea of going without food by choice
was anathema to her.
So giving up things was not something I was raised with. I don’t recall my dad participating in that either (then again, Mom did all the cooking and dad didn’t like fish or vegetables any more than she did, so if he didn’t want to starve, he had to eat what she put in front of him).
In the years since my childhood, I’ve made a concerted effort to give things up. If not for religious reasons, at least to try to break habits for a limited time which would hopefully become long-term. Or to lose weight. Or to be more productive. I’ve given up french fries, I’ve given up Bejeweled, I’ve given up fast food – and it’s always a short-term fix.
So this year, I’m going to try to establish some new habits instead.
- I’m going to practice every day. Mindfully and with purpose. My plan is to put together my audition repertoire for my return to Baltimore – to include operetta, opera, oratorio, musical theater and cabaret. I’ve already started that. It’s hard to practice when you have 40 students between two schools (home and Stritch), but I have to do it. Even if I don’t have time to practice a bunch of songs at one sitting, at least I can vocalize and do something.
- I’m going to write. This doesn’t mean 40 days of blogs. I don’t know what I’m going to write, but I’m going to write something. I have an article to write for the Journal of Singing on the process of leaving a successful voice studio behind and re-establishing my studio in a new city. (Actually, two articles – one in a year from now to document my progress.) I want to get into the practice of regular writing. Before I wanted to be a singer, I wanted to be a writer.
What I’m not going to do is give up Bejeweled or french fries or fast food or vow to exercise every day. I’m going to keep up with my wheat elimination program, following the principles of the book Wheat Belly, because it seems to make me feel better. And I’m going to continue to try to eat at home and not spend money eating out – but I’m doing that anyway. I’ll try to keep up those things because they’re working for me.
What singing goals can you set for yourself for the next 40 days? Here are some suggestions:
- Practice mindfully. Every day. (You can have Sundays off.)
- Learn the International Phonetic Alphabet to help you with your foreign language singing.
- Look into a summer training program. First Stage? Some music camp?
- Sing in a different language.
- Improve your piano skills so you can learn music faster.
- Listen to some singers in a different genre than you usually listen to.
- Audition for a show!
Maybe God doesn’t want me to starve, but He does want me to sing. Of that I’m sure.
Published by Mezzoid Voice Studio
Christine Thomas-O'Meally, a mezzo soprano and voice teacher currently based in the Baltimore-DC area, has performed everything from the motets of J.S. Bach to the melodies of Irving Berlin to the minimalism of Philip Glass.
As an opera singer and actress, she has appeared with companies such as Charm City Players, Spotlighters Theatre, Chicago Opera Theater, Opera Theater of Northern Virginia, Opera North, the Washington Savoyards, In Tandem Theatre, Windfall Theater, The Young Victorian Theater of Baltimore, and Skylight Opera Theatre. She created the role of The Woman in Red in Dominick Argento’s Dream of Valentino in its world premiere with the Washington Opera and Mary Pickersgill in O'er the Ramparts at its world premiere during the Bicentennial of Battle of Baltimore at the Community College of Baltimore County. Other roles include Mrs. Paroo in Music Man, Mother Abbess in Sound of Music, Dorabella in Cosi Fan Tutte, Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro, both Hansel and the Witch in Hansel & Gretel, and many roles in Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. Her performance as the Housekeeper in Man of La Mancha was honored with a WATCH award nomination.
Ms. Thomas-O'Meally received an M.M. in vocal performance from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. She regularly attends master classes and workshops in both performance and vocal pedagogy, and is certified in all three Levels of Somatic Voicework™ The LoVetri Method. Her students have performed on national and international tours of Broadway productions, at prestigious conservatories, and in regional theater throughout the country.
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One thought on “My Lenten Resolution/Your Lenten Challenge”
I like your \”take\” on Lent. I sing in a Lutheran church and the pastor advises not to give up food and drink type things, because that makes it \”all about me\” (the self-absorption of the anorexic, etc.). She says instead to give money or time to a charitable endeavor, let go of old quarrels, work at giving up a bad spiritual habit. I didn't grow up with Lent – my parents were Marxists – but I think it's a nice tradition. As for singing goals, I have my Verdi Requiem concert to look forward to, plus much choral singing and perhaps a solo at the Lutheran church. I would love to give up fear of failure for Lent but am not sure how to do it.