Thursday, June 20, 2013

Sing something for me!

Do you ever get nervous standing in front of a crowd?  have you ever felt your heart rate increase before you have to give a presentation?  I feel that way every time I am about to perform.  I find performing in front of crowds incredibly awkward. It doesn't matter the size of the crowd, it is always slightly uncomfortable.  For me, the worst part is waiting to begin.  You have nothing to do but think about what you are about to do.  You suddenly find yourself furiously going over the lyrics in your head, perhaps you even begin saying the lyrics out loud. This is always an embarrassing realization because  not only are you nervous, but those around you think you might be insane.  You just want to give the audience your best, but what happens when you feel like your best isn't good enough? 

Fearless four year old
I have spent most of my life performing for people.  I grew up singing in church, participated in school choirs, and I have sung solos for various performances and competitions.  You would think I would be comfortable performing in front of people, but I am not. I still get butterflies in my stomach that seem to be fluttering so fast they might burst forth. Don't get me wrong, I can rock 90s pop and dance like a fool at karaoke without a problem.  Hand me a guitar and ask me to play, and I feel like crawling into a hole.

In my desire to show people my best I begin to fear my best isn't good enough.  I can play the guitar, but I am no B.B. King, and I never will be.  I have been to some really incredible concerts that have stirred my soul and brought tears to my eyes.  These incredible concerts have left me so mesmerized that it is hard to listen to any recorded music because it just doesn't measure up. As a performer I want to leave that kind of impression. Unfortunately I get so nervous about mistakes I have made or could make that I am a little dull to watch.  No one likes boring musicians, especially not me.

Thankfully, my goal in life is not to be a famous musician.  I just want to work with people to make their lives better. As a music therapist I need to be completely focused on the client and their needs.  I should not be worried that I might miss a chord or forget a word. Our current professor Dr. Register, often reminds us that "we are all doing the best we can, with what we've got, at that moment."  This is such a wonderful mantra that can easily be forgotten with the stressors of life, but it is important to cut yourself and those around you a little slack.  Life isn't perfect, performances won't always be perfect, and mistakes are going to be made. It is important to recognize that those mistakes do not define you.   Being able to perform any type of music in any situation is important as a music therapist.  While we aren't here to perform for the client, we must be comfortable using our skills in individual or group sessions. The question though, is how can I be the best music therapist, if I get so distracted by mistakes?  How can I be a great music therapist if I am not completely comfortable and confident in my music abilities?  How can I effectively lead a group music therapy session if I can't even perform for a group of strangers?

My time here has made me realize that I really need to let go of this fear.  The Thai people love music, especially singing along to both Thai and western music. They aren't worried about the timbre of their voice or if they are clapping on the correct beat. They are just wholly invested in the music and having a good time. The Thai people have made me come to understand that everyone is just looking to live a full and happy life.  It is hard to be unhappy around people who are genuinely enjoying themselves.  Clearly I am taking myself a little too seriously when it comes to music.

This summer I plan on overcoming my fears when performing.  I hope my family, friends, and probably a few strangers are ready to hear and see me often.  With the help and support of my friend Ronette, I have already started performing for strangers.  On Friday June 8, our group went to dinner at a restaurant that had a live band.  This was no ordinary live band because they also would accompany  anyone who wanted to sing.  It was live karaoke! Ronette and I sang Landslide by Stevie Nicks and Ronette convinced me to play the guitar.  I was much too nervous and embarrassed to ask for the guitar  myself, so she had to ask for me as I silently prayed he would say no. Of course the Thai's are much too kind and he handed me his guitar.  The performance wasn't perfect, chords were botched, pitches were missed, I even shortened the song  because of nerves, but I did it!! I played the guitar and I sang into a microphone to my incredibly talented classmates, faculty, and some strangers.  I figure if I can sing to people who I admire and respect, I should be able to sing for anyone.

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