Chrissie has left the building….

After 15 years, last week I closed the Milwaukee version of my private studio, packed everything up and loaded an incredibly long moving van full of my stuff (as well as one very full Subaru wagon) and moved to Baltimore. That’s where I’m sitting right now, in my Baltimore living room writing this while my husband plays Supertramp on his brand new upright.  My furniture isn’t here yet – the movers won’t arrive till next Tuesday or Wednesday, so I’m kind of in limbo.

My new in-house studio space is also empty – not only of furniture, but of students as well. I will need to start marketing myself sometime this summer. I’ve joined Maryland NATS, I might have a job lined up at a local community college, and I’ll be putting out the word at my alma mater, Peabody, that I’ll be ready to go after Labor Day. My summer project will be writing an article about the process of uprooting a successful studio and starting all over for the Journal of Singing (my due date is 10/2013, so keep me honest – ask me how it’s going!).
At this time last year, there was nothing more I wanted than to return to the east coast, to a place where I was appreciated as a performer. I didn’t start teaching until I’d been back in Milwaukee for about a year. Teaching voice was just supposed to be something I did so I didn’t have to work in an office between gigs. I didn’t know I’d be good at it. I didn’t know I would be passionate about it. I didn’t know that I would actually pass up gigs because I’d rather teach. (Not good gigs, mind you – but there was a time when I’d take any gig just to have a gig.)
Now I want to have it all. I want to perform, and I want to teach. This is a good move for me, I know that. But at the same time, I look at the picture of this empty room where so many people made beautiful music – and the room is not all that’s empty. I may fill the empty place in my heart with new students, but the ones I leave behind are the ones who made my heart sing. Not only aloud, but inside. 
Thank you all. 

Feeling like me

Sometimes people come into your life who make you feel more like yourself than you have for a long time. Maybe they don’t stay around for very long, but long enough for you to remember who you are and what you want for yourself. And what you are no longer willing to accept.

I’ve had six months of being on my own sans husband and dogs. At first, I was terribly lonely and awake much of the night, troubled by the quiet house and my own monkey mind (which is a Buddhist term meaning “unsettled; restless; capricious; whimsical; fanciful; inconstant; confused; indecisive; uncontrollable;” I visualize my mind as possessing a small Capuchin monkey running around and wildly flinging feces). But as time has gone on, I’ve welcomed solitude, probably for the first time ever. And I have to say, I’m more than a little apprehensive of losing it. What is it going to be like to live with someone again?
My students have been my primary focus in the past few months, especially as we worked together on this past Sunday’s studio recital. I’ve gotten to know a few people particularly well, and I’ve found a new level of creative stimulation that I haven’t had as part of my life for a very long time. Ideas coming and going, from myself and others, thoughts on where a scene should go, where a career should go, and where life should go. It’s been exhilarating.
It makes me feel like – me. It’s not a last desperate grasping for youth; it’s a feeling of being vibrant, alive, full of possibilities. Maybe that is a feeling associated with youth, but I don’t believe it’s limited to a particular age group, and I want to hold on to it and keep building on it. It’s the way I felt when I left Baltimore, and it’s the way I feel now as I return.
Who am I? I am a singer. I am a voice teacher. I am damn good at both. I want to do both for as long as I can.
What do I want? I want a thriving studio like I had here in Milwaukee with students who absorb information like a sponge. I want to perform again. I want to have the opportunity to take these programming skills I have developed to another level and maybe do some more directing. I’d love to take the scenes showcase and turn it into a separate entity that has its own set of regularly scheduled rehearsals instead of just one frenetic weekend. (Although we’ve accomplished a lot with one frenetic weekend, if I do say so myself.)
What I’m not willing to accept? Feeling less than vibrant, less than creative, feeling limited. Walking on eggshells. Not being respected. I won’t take that from anyone, not in any situation. 
I feel like me again and me is pretty awesome. (Correction: Me am pretty awesome.)