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Curiosity Killed the …

Nothing. It kills nothing. 

Curiosity is a good thing. According to Seth Godin (who I haven’t quoted for a while), curiosity is one of the three foundations of art:

  1. Curiosity
  2. Generosity
  3. Connection

These three components allow us to create and to make art, which “is a tool that gives us the ability to make things better and to create something new on behalf of those who will use it to create the next thing.” (The Practice, 2020, p. 55).

(Also remember the bumper sticker: “EARTH without ART is EH.”)

His 2008 book, Tribes, is a bit outdated now because of all the technological advances that have occurred in the nearly 13 years since its publication. But the roots of his work on curiosity are there, in his discussion of the difference between fundamentalism and curiosity, management and leadership, the settler and the heretic.

“It has to do with a desire to understand, a desire to try, a desire to push whatever envelope is interesting. …. Once recognized, the quiet yet persistent voice or curiosity doesn’t go away. Ever. And perhaps it’s such curiosity that will lead us to distinguish our own greatness from the mediocrity that stares us in the face.” (pp. 63-64)

I’m blown away by this because curiosity is the driving force of my life. And I can’t abide mediocrity. I don’t know if I can say I’m great (I am, after all, from the Midwest), but if I felt I was even remotely mediocre, I don’t think I could stand it.

So maybe curiosity kills mediocrity. Yes, I’m going to go with that.

Plus, the whole “curiosity killed the cat” thing is completely bogus. The phrase is actually, “Curiosity killed the cat – but satisfaction brought it back.”

To say half the phrase implies that it’s okay to settle, not to question, not to try, because to do so might actually court death. But instead, while pursuing something different might take you down for a while, ultimately, the satisfaction of the effort will allow you to bounce back up. (This, and other phrases, are frequently misquoted and misinterpreted.)

So if you’re curious about anything, say, I don’t know, maybe singing, maybe now is the time to take the risk and try it.

After all, look at these cats. Do they look dead to you?

Singing cats
Curiosity kills the mediocre. The cats are fine.

Also, thinking of curiosity – this song was played by Peter Jacobson in a Total Vocal Freedom class I recently took and I was just enthralled by it. It wasn’t this version, but this version was just the right length for what I wanted to include here. The song is “Experiment,” from Nymph Errant by Cole Porter (1933).

Original lyrics:

Before you leave these portals
To meet less fortunate mortals,
There’s just one final message
I would give to you.
You all have learned reliance
On the sacred teachings of science,
So I hope, through life, you never will decline
In spite of philistine
Defiance
To do what all good scientists do.

Experiment.
Make it your motto day and night.
Experiment
And it will lead you to the light.
The apple on the top of the tree
Is never too high to achieve,
So take an example from Eve,
Experiment.
Be curious,
Though interfering friends may frown.
Get furious
At each attempt to hold you down.
If this advice you always employ
The future can offer you infinite joy
And merriment,
Experiment
And you’ll see

**********

If you’re curious about finding your voice and speaking/singing your mind, contact MVS to set up a complementary 20-minute chat about what Curiously Strong Singing & Performing can do for you.

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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