The new year has me in reflecting mode. How did last year go? What went well? What didn't? What's next? These sorts of questions begin filling my mind immediately after the Christmastide wanes on the evening of Dec 25, when a church musician can finally relax and just take in the joyous holiday.
2017 brought ups and downs, but also some incredible gifts: the birth of our baby boy, Will, in early September (on Labor Day weekend, a punster in the making, no doubt), the unpredictable and enlightening new navigations into motherhood, a loving and supportive husband who weathered many transitions with me in our first year of marriage, a move to Belmont, MA where I now have space to build and grow my private music studio, and a refined sense of purpose in my work as a performer and teacher of music. There are many other gifts I was fortunate to receive, and I am so grateful for all of them; each gives me an opportunity to grow more every day, in ways I never thought possible.
As I look to this year, and brace for all that is mysteriously imminent, I keep coming back to a simple sentence I often say to a new voice student: "singing is just life." A singing practice is no different than a meditation, yoga, cooking, or any other practice. It has the ritual of constant pursuit and gives us something to rely on both in times of celebration and uncertainty. Sure, singing has its challenges (what doesn't in life), but the skills we work tirelessly at as singers are absolutely applicable to managing our daily lives. For one, our deep breathing practice allows us to feel both simultaneously grounded and afloat, like an anchored buoy gliding on still or choppy waters. The resonance we work to open up in our face and in the back of our heads helps us prepare before we sing a certain note. Anticipating space, or as my husband puts it, "like cleaning out the fridge before going to the store" gives us pause to create space before we hit a figurative (or refrigerator) wall. Quite literally, the singing voice we strengthen in lessons and practice is us. The more we feel comfortable releasing our singing into the world, it often seems we become more accepting of being our authentic, quirky, imperfect and beautiful selves in general.
My personal quest for 2018 reflects my previous sentence, and I am so grateful to have singing and teaching as a way to work on getting there within myself and to help others get there, too. Perhaps my musings here will also inspire you on occasion to dive more into your own authentic, quirky, imperfect, and beautiful selves: one low-belly, diaphragmatic breath at a time.