I have so many songs….

In the musical A New Brain, the lead character of Gordon Schwinn is taken to the hospital after a seizure and is near death. His thoughts are of all the things has to do. In this early song in the show, as he is being examined, he sings:

All the songs I never wrote
Fizzle and remain
All the songs I did not start
All the rhymes I never made
All the stories I delayed in telling
Are welling up inside my brain
I should explain
I have so many songs!

I feel like this sometimes. I am full of ideas. I want to do workshops. I want to put on master classes, organize concerts, do so many things. And often, I do them. I’ve accomplished a lot of things. But I have more to do. I have tons of content created that is sitting in the cloud waiting for me to disperse it (what a great choice of words … dispersing from the cloud … like rain on a thirsty field…. ooh).

Seth Godin wrote a recent blogpost called “That’s a good idea.” His first line is “And then what happens?”

You have to take the next step. Does putting on a master class involve sending an email or <gulp> picking up a telephone to contact a person to host the event or to be your featured clinician?

And then what happens? What do you have to do next in order to make this happen? And then what happens after that? What is your next step?

In this particular case, when I say “you” I mean “I” or “me” and when I say “your” I mean “mine.” But this applies to us all when we’re planning a project. How many steps are involved? Do they have to be done in order? Do they have to be done perfectly or just done?

I’ve taken the first step and asked former student and Broadway actress Lissa DeGuzman to be a master clinician for an online master class I’m hosting on July 17. She’s accepted. This was a good idea. Now I need to take all the other steps so it’s not wasted.

What is your great idea?

And then what happens?

Tell us your stories. Tell us your songs. Don’t let them “fizzle and remain.” Get them out there. Take the steps.

 

The Unwitting Personal Trainer/Emulating vs. Imitating

About 7 years ago, I was at Zumba at the Wisconsin Athletic Club, and I was not feeling all that motivated. I had a move coming up, I was packing, and I was lonely, since both my dogs and my husband were out in Maryland.

I noticed a young woman in the row ahead of me who was really into it – her energy was on fire, her moves were smooth, and she seemed to be having a great time. Her t-shirt said, “Tosa East Senior Powder Puff Football 2007.” I did the math and realized that would make her 23. I decided that I was going to follow her and match my energy to hers. I joked later that she was my “unwitting personal trainer.”

Earlier this year, I started doing Zumba again at Brick Bodies and was really enjoying myself At the end of class, a woman (about my age) came up to me and said, “you’re really good! I was following you!” and I thought, “Oh my gosh, I’m someone’s unwitting personal trainer!” It felt good.

The reason I bring this up is that I follow a blog called Bulletproof Musician, written by a violinist and performance psychologist named Noa Kageyama. His most recent blog was on the topic of motivating yourself to practice by “copycatting a friend.”

EC089BBC-7BE7-4376-A6AF-60B4FE366309Generally, being a copycat is frowned upon (just ask Billie Eilish) in terms of finding your creative voice. But in this case, Dr. Kageyama is talking about finding someone who inspires you and looking at what they do that makes them successful. Do they get up earlier? Do they set a specific practice time daily and stick to it? What artists do they listen to?

Emulate, not imitate.

What does that mean?

According to Professor Paul Brians of Washington University, “emulate” is a more specialized term, meaning that you are striving to achieve something that someone else did (or surpass, as some definitions say). “Thus[,] if you try to climb the same mountain your big brother did, you’re emulating him; but if you copy his habit of sticking peas up his nose, you’re just imitating him.”

I emulated Miss Powder Puff Football 2007.

I imitate Julie Andrews.

Who is your “unwitting personal trainer?” Are you emulating them or imitating them? Do you know the difference?

(By the way, this song gave me a new appreciation for Billie Eilish.)

Performance Success Profile, Take Two

After cleaning out files the other day, I discovered a performance success survey that I took in 2002. This was a bad time for me, performance-wise. Although I should’ve been at the top of my game, vocally, I was having a lot of performance anxiety that was really holding me back. And my scores on the survey reflected the areas where I was having the most difficulty. I posted about this the other day.

My primary issues back then were focus, and, to a lesser extent, self-confidence.

I went to take the test again. The website has been tweaked a bit – it had been dongreene.com, after the author of the book Performance Success. It is now winningonstage.com, “dedicated to performing artists striving for excellence.” There are a variety of tools dedicated to achieving this goal, and the quiz that I took all those years ago was on there, linked to the book. So I took the test again. I paid for it this time (maybe I could’ve found the code in the book and gotten it for free, but I figured I could afford the $19). I wanted to see if I’ve improved.

I’m not sure if the test was exactly the same as it was back then, but I took it and I’m pleased to say that I scored much better than back then. My high scores (70+) were in:

  1. Determination (81)
  2. Mental Outlook (70)
  3. Emotional Approach (80)
  4. Resilience (81)

I didn’t really have any low scores (low was below 20-44). The areas that were in the mid-range were:

  1. Poise (68)
  2. Controlling Attention (63)
  3. Concentration (56)

The latter two are still related to focus. Controlling attention is a question of mental quiet. While I could focus on an object and not get distracted, that little nagging voice (which has an accent – I can’t imagine why) still wants to say, “You’re not doing this right. Oops, that was wrong.” As far as concentrating, my presence and intensity of focus were much higher but the duration of focus (SQUIRREL!) was less so. Probably because of said nagging voice.

Is this because I’m a Gemini? Do I have adult ADHD? What can I do about this? According to the profile, I should go back and review pp. 79-85 in Performance Success.

And I probably will, later today. But first….

The Year I Ran – an explanation of this blog and how it came to be

In the last year or so, I’ve referred to my training for the Irish Fest 5K as part of “The year I ran.” I’ve never been someone to run willingly. I’ve run for the bus, I’ve run for a plane, I’ve run for a gym class when assigned to, and every time I’ve hated doing it. And in the latter case, got a C for doing it.

But on Memorial Day, 2010, while Bill and the dogs were out for a walk, I thought to myself, “I’m going to go for a run.” Those words had never entered my head before. I had thought about running and had downloaded a “Couch to 5K” app onto my phone a few weeks earlier. But actually running? I didn’t think I’d ever do it.

It was awful. I walked for five minutes and then broke into the world’s slowest jog. I might call it a “galumph.” It only lasted 60 seconds, and was followed by 90 seconds of walking. And then the pattern was repeated for another 17-1/2 minutes. Of sheer hell.

When I got home, Bill was already back and asked where I had been. I told him I’d gone running and was aiming to do a 5K in August. He laughed. I don’t think he thought I’d do another day, let alone 9 weeks. I wasn’t sure I would, for that matter.

But I did. I never ran particularly fast, I never really enjoyed it all that much while doing it, but I did it. 

I haven’t done it since. Partly due to a bad bout of plantar fasciitis that made running painful, and partly to a lack of motivation that I’d had just a year before. But I liked who I was when I prepared for that race, and I’d like to be that person again.

But first I need to figure out just who I was in the Year I Ran. And how can I be that person again? Do I need to be that person? Or did she serve the purpose she was intended to serve for that year?

This is why I’m “here,” writing this blog. I have an idea of why it happened and I’m wondering if it will happen again. Or if it can be translated to something else that I need to do.