Hey there! How are you doing today? You feeling okay? Having an okay week?
Today our truth monsters are gonna come out. We’re gonna talk about the truth about performing, and we’re gonna get a little real today. So buckle your seatbelt and get ready for this ride.
If you’d rather listen instead of reading, check out the podcast version below!
My Experience in the Transition Between Music Major to Music Professional
So this is something that has been a recent development for me in, I would say the past, about five years. In thinking about performing, there’s so many times where we just think about
“Oh we love performing. We love how it makes us feel and it fills something inside of us…”
And all of these things can be, and probably are true which is awesome. Because music is amazing. The benefits of music are amazing for your body, for your brain, for your mental health… However it can go deeper than that.
I recently had a little come-to-Jesus moment about performing in the past several years, I would say, where there was light that was shed on me. And maybe it’s something that you’ve already thought about, that you’ve already figured out. But I certainly had not. And I had gone my whole life under a certain type of belief and impression system, until I really was honest with myself.
And so today I’m going to talk to you about that, and what that could mean for you.
And maybe you can have your little come-to-Jesus moment about performing a bit sooner than me. Because I really wish I would have. I could have enjoyed performing a lot more going through the music major college, all of that kind of thing.
So in music we feel connected, of course. And then, we have to ask ourselves, “Okay so why do we like performing? Why do we like music?”
And so most of the time it’s because we feel valued. We feel special, we feel secure. Maybe we feel important.
And for me—this is gonna get real honest right here—for me, I realized that a lot of what I had been doing from growing up, going into high school, and then going into college and music programs… I think a lot of it stemming from my childhood was that I liked the attention.
Because when you think about it, when you’re performing, you get a lot of attention especially afterwards. People come up and tell you you did a good job. As a kid, you’re like “Oh my gosh, I did good!” I did good because everyone’s saying good job!
And in reality… I mean, now that I’m an adult and I’ll go to a lot of our students and say good job myself. It’s just the polite thing to say when somebody puts themselves out there, because that’s really hard in the first place and it doesn’t necessarily mean that their performance was flawless. It doesn’t necessarily mean that there wouldn’t be things that you’re like, “I wish I could work with you on so-and-so.” But it’s more of encouraging the fact that “Hey, it’s not easy to put yourself out there in front of people, and I can see that you’re making an effort and you’re doing a lot of things really well. And so I’m going to say this to encourage you.”
But when I was a kid, I didn’t realize that. And so it was kind of like this thing that fed me, and I would look for that and want that, and I got. I mean I got plenty of attention. I’m not being like “Oh, I didn’t get any attention in my childhood.”
But I will say this: when you grow up in a larger family… I grew up in a family of five kids. It’s a little bit more busy going on, not gonna lie. And so I think when I really got into performing and I loved the attention that it got—it wasn’t necessarily from my family, like my siblings, but it was from friends and outside people, or my parents or grandparents that would come to see me. And I really liked that attention, and it fed me.
And I just didn’t really think about it that way. I always just thought I loved music, I loved how it made me feel.
And usually, when you’re growing up, they don’t ask you this. They don’t say, “Why are you doing this, what do you like about this?” And so I don’t necessarily feel like I had much of a challenge in that way where someone was challenging me to really find a why and to really find value in that. And so I kind of just went through life and not really realizing. And it really motivated me and made me work hard and everything like that. I feel like because my high school choir director was extremely musical and I really felt from my heart the music and singing from my heart, I feel like he was one of my influences on that.
But when I went to college, they are so focused on your sound and your technique (which as they should be). I’m totally backing them up here, but for me? I lost sight of musicianship and singing from my heart. And all of a sudden, I became so concerned and almost obsessed with how I sounded and my technique. And all the times—hours and hours in the practice rooms working on things, studying things, researching things. It was more about my presentation, how I sounded, how I looked, how my technique was going. And I think that’s totally valid because up until as a music major, I didn’t really have a whole lot of work on my individual technique. And so it was definitely necessary.
But for me, I lost sight of what was most important. There was an experience I had in Ohio, there’s an opera company and one of the important people in there was a really big conductor from Italy. And he’s such a hoot, he’s such a personality and I’ve learned so much from working with him. And there was one instance where there was a private event, a private concert that I was asked to do for a bunch of donors. I sang a piece and sang one of my favorite pieces.
And then the conductor came up to me and he was complimentary. But then he also said “I want you to sing more, see more from your heart. And I want to feel more from you.”
And I think at first it was like my tail was between my legs. Because here I was, thinking about all the sound and thinking that I really nailed that high note and did that decrescendo really, really well. So at the time, I think my feelings were hurt just a little bit—which was a good thing, because then it helped shed some light onto this. But then I was thinking, “Wait so you want me to sing more from my heart?” He’s like “Yeah, open up your heart more!”
And it really started to get me thinking. All of a sudden, I felt like I had forgotten how to do that. I didn’t know—how do you sing from your heart? And then I started analyzing, in a way. Trying to go from more of a scientific way and just being like “Okay, so each phrase, I’m gonna think about a certain emotion, and then I’m going to portray that emotion.”
And although that is one very effective technique for performing, that wasn’t necessarily what he was meaning. He wanted to really feel my vulnerability, he really wanted to feel my heart. He really wanted to feel the things that I felt as a human being, going through this life. And I wasn’t giving that. I know I wasn’t giving that because that didn’t feel comfortable. I mean especially going as a music major and everything, I really felt like you kind of are thrown in a pile of sharks.
I feel like this especially when I did my PD at Jacob’s School of Music because it’s kind of like a factory for performers and musicians. And in that way when there is like a hundred of you—meaning a soprano, a certain kind of soprano—and you’re all really talented and you’re all really hard-working, you’re at a pretty same level with everyone… That’s hard. That’s really hard.
And you kind of have to break off and find your niche—which I didn’t realize this when I was going through it—to really shine. And I found ways to do that, but it wasn’t really my intention in doing that.
But i think the thing about that is that you feel so insecure being around so many people that are like you because going up until then, even in high school, I was a big fish in a little pond. And then there was also a rough little transition going from high school to college in my Bachelor’s in music. Because all of a sudden, there were more people like me. And then I kind of found my way through that. And then when I did my Masters, then all of a sudden, I kind of was thrown in that again, being around more people like me and they were more talented or equally as talented. And then I had to find my way through that.
And then from there, I went to Jacob’s School of Music. And it was a wonderful place, it’s a wonderful school. I think it it can be very challenging to find your way and to not get lost and to not get sidetracked and to not feel so stressed, or like you lose your sense of self. Because that’s kind of what I felt when I was there. And I was really insecure.
And I think in doing music programs, especially when you’re completely surrounded by your competition, it’s not like you can have it all of your whole life. You just see these people at things—I mean these these are the people that you’re eating lunch with. These are the people that you are, maybe roommates with, these are the people you’re surrounded with. And not all of them felt like competition. I mean I had some great friendships within those people that it wasn’t like that.
But then there also was this feeling like I can’t trust any of my friends. I feel like everybody just is kind of out there at my throat. And I wish that I had a really deep genuine friendship, but I don’t feel that. I don’t feel like that at all, so that’s something that I struggled with. And i think in that insecurity, I feel like I kind of shut off my vulnerability without even realizing it.
Going through all that now? I’m like “Wow if only I realized that. If only somebody else that had kind of been through that before was like, hey, look at all this, look at what you’re doing! Okay, I’m giving you a little smack in the butt.” But I didn’t. And it wasn’t until the past five years that I’ve really figured that out and really figured out my why.
And who was the person that helped me do that? It was Paul. We’ll have discussions and conversations. And a lot of the time, we’ll collaborate together. And so he’s there with me, feeling what I’m feeling (or not feeling what I’m not feeling).
And it wasn’t until… I would say after I had kids, that all of a sudden, something clicked. Because let me tell you: first off, those hormones when you’re pregnant? Never have I felt such intense emotions for really silly reasons! Then when I was pregnant and postpartum, wow.
So if you’re getting ready for that part of your life, you are in for a trip. But it’s a wonderful trip, okay? Just be be aware that you might not feel like you’re making sense at all.
But having children and feeling this vulnerability with them, and being like, “Oh my gosh, there is this creature that I have taken a part in creating” And all of a sudden I’m responsible for them and their well-being, I’m responsible for taking care of them and making sure they’re healthy and not like messing them up in their childhood. So there’s all this pressure.
But it’s also just this feeling of vulnerability because you love somebody so much that you haven’t really felt that deepness of caring for someone that needs your help. Or someone that is dependent upon you that can’t take care of themselves. You haven’t really felt that in your life until this moment.
And I think I was able to kind of tap into that vulnerability and realize that that’s the same kind of vulnerability that I used to feel when I was growing up and loving music. And that I had lost it. I had lost sight of that and that’s what I wanted back. And I knew that I wanted it. It was kind of a struggle to find it again, and so it was just a very a very interesting journey with a lot of deep conversations with Paul.
And so I think the thing that I want to have you take away with you is to just think about your why. Why is it that you love performing? Why is it that you want to do this?
And then you can make room for those emotions and be like, “Okay, I understand I do this because I love the attention. But what if I did it for more reasons?” In my discussions with Paul and my soul searching through this, I found that I can definitely tap into singing from my heart and singing from a vulnerable place. And I don’t even have to put anything on.
That’s the thing, there’s a lot of times with musical theater or opera or something where you’re doing a show and you’re doing them all the time. You’re not necessarily going to feel that vulnerability all of the time. Or if you’re doing multiple shows a week and you’re just exhausted? You’re not going to feel that every single time, that’s not realistic. And so there are all these tools and things that you can work with to help with that—I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about more isolated performing where it’s just completely from your heart.
And I’ve figured out how to do that. The thing is, I didn’t have to make it happen. I think that’s the biggest takeaway is that it’s there and you just have to allow it and be conscious of it. Now there have been so many times where I can’t even make it through a song because I just start crying. It’s really kind of silly to talk about and tell you about, but that’s the truth. And it’s not all the songs, but the songs where I feel really connected to and feel like there’s a part of my heart in there—I’m just a freaking mess like I’m just crying, and I can’t even do it. So I found it, I’ve figured out. I figured out how to truly bring a part of me to that.
And so I want you to think about the reason for performing or the reason for singing to not be for other people because the biggest struggle that I had was that because I’m not realizing it, because I was doing it for the attention. The focus was on the audience and the outside, it wasn’t on me. It wasn’t on my heart and what I was truly feeling. It was on what other people were thinking.
And I think that’s more common than what people like to talk about. I think people don’t like to admit that. I sure didn’t like to admit that. And so if you can move from that place and just realize you have something to say from your heart (and it doesn’t matter how many other people are singing the exact same song in the very next practice room over to you, if they have a better this note or that note or decrescendo or a diminuendo or whatever it is) it doesn’t matter, because you are the only person that can sing exactly the way that you do based upon your experiences in life. Your pains and your sufferings and your joys. Because you are a human being, and you are completely unique. And so your interpretation and coming from your heart and soul is going to be completely different, so there is no comparison. It’s just making sure that you’re opening yourself up to that.
Is it uncomfortable? Yes.
Do you feel vulnerable? Oh yeah! You kind of feel like all of a sudden you go out on a stage and you forgot your pants or something.
But is it worth it to feel like a human being? Absolutely.
I want you to take this away. I want you to think about this and think about your why. And that doesn’t mean that you’re going to be able to make that switch, because it took me a really, really long time. And it might take you a really long time too. But even just being aware of it and being aware of where you want to end up—that’s worth it. It’s weight and gold, I will tell you that. I really, really wish that I had this conversation with somebody earlier on, but it’s okay because I can have that with you.
That’s one of the things that makes me so passionate about this is that there are so many things that going through my life, there were some missing pieces. And I don’t think that I’m special or unique in thinking that some of these missing pieces might be present in other people’s lives. So that’s why I’ve really started to get passionate about this and sharing information and my experiences and lessons that I’ve learned.
So if this resonates with you at all and you’re like, “Yeah, this is totally speaking my language. I really like this!” then one thing that you can do is you can join my private group! I have a private Facebook group and it’s kind of the place to be, because you can get vulnerable. I’m not saying everybody’s opening up all of their deepest desires in there, but I was very intent on making a group that I was in charge of, in a way.
Because I don’t like a lot of those groups out there. I feel like they’re just a platform for people to get on some kind of high horse and prove a point, or argue with one another, or make somebody else feel insecure. And it drives me nuts, because there are so many Facebook groups that you can find that are support for musicians, music teachers, voice teachers, choir teachers and the like! And I think it’s awesome (I’m not saying they’re all like this, but I’m saying that there’s way too many times where I look and I’m reading their posts and all of a sudden, I’m like “Oh, calm down there sister, or “Seriously you’re gonna say that and you’re gonna make this person feel stupid like, oh my gosh how rude!”)
And so I thought, you know what? I want to create my own club where I can make the rules, and be like “You’re not going to challenge people in a public way.” I mean there are some times where that’s important, of course. But for what I’m trying to create… I’m trying to create a community. A community of people that care about each other and a community of people that are uplifting and helpful and positive. I’m one of the happiest people you will probably meet, I’m always that kind of typical positive type of person and I want to create an energy with that, kind of like a force field.
Because there’s way too much crap, stress and pain and overwhelm in the world right now. I don’t want any more of that. This is just help, support, inspiration for people that want to become more confident in whatever way that is. Whether it’s their teaching, whether it’s their performing, or both.
If this sounds like something that you want to be a part of, come join us! It’s called Music Major to Music Professional. And no, it’s not just for music majors. The reason I named it that was because I felt like my experience in being a music major in the places that I was, there were some missing pieces. And I’m trying to provide those missing pieces to have more of a complete and wholehearted sustainable support system for the future of our music generations and the future of our teaching.
But even if you’re a teacher and you’re 55, 65 or 75 years old, you can still join the group because there’s going to be positivity. There’s going to be new ideas. There’s going to be support systems. And we’re really monitoring, making sure that there’s not disputes, making sure that people don’t make other people feel stupid in comments and everything like that. So it’s a safe positive place!
So if that speaks your language or if you’re a performer, a music major? Get your butt in this group, because I tell you… You don’t realize it now because you’re kind of in that safety net of your program, but there’s some things that you’re going to be like…
“I want to just develop a strong support system. I want to develop some tools so that when I get thrust into the real world and then there’s certain things that I feel insecure about, I will have some tools and support and some help for that.”
If you’re a teacher and you’ve been teaching for a really long time, this group is also for you because there’s new things we can always learn. New things or maybe there’s something that you feel uncomfortable about that you never really feel like you can open up because maybe that makes you feel like… “Oh. Well, I shouldn’t be here then,” or “I’m embarrassed to say this,” or maybe it’s something about vocal pedagogy which, let me tell you: it’s a pretty darn intimidating subject. And so there’s a lot of things I think as voice teachers or choir teachers, we feel like we can’t open up to about, because we’re supposed to have all of the answers. And so this is also a place to feel safe about any insecurities that you might have as a teacher and to get help for those. So come join us today at Music Major to Music Professional—and I hope to see you there!