Friday, September 3, 2010

Mini-Missions Accomplished

Mini-Mission #1: I completed my first musical theatre workshop in LA, well anywhere really. Last night was our final class and while every week, I considered turning around and heading home because I was so nervous I thought I'd be sick, I didn't. I showed up & that's a start.

Mini-Mission #2: I got through an audition with more success than ever before in my adult life. After college, the few auditions I attended were complete disasters. I let my nerves and past negative experiences overwhelm me and I wasn't able to present any of my actual self or talent. Last night was our final class and it was a mock audition with a local casting director. Sure, there are things I would like to do differently but I was there- me, my voice, my personality, even my mistakes. Nerves were there too but I didn't allow them to take control.

Mini-Mission #3: I sang in front of a casting director, a real one. I didn't know this was a mission I wanted to complete but in the midst of this experience, I realized I did and that this was a pretty great opportunity to be seen by and garner advice from a knowledgeable and successful member of the industry. She was fantastic, seriously, such a wonderful person that I wanted to be her friend and not because she could get me a job! (Don't worry, I didn't try.) I learned a lot from her simply by watching her interact with the other actors and of course, by listening to her closely during the critique and Q & A. She made me want to be a better actor.

Mini-Mission #3: I "proved [I'm] an actress." Words that came from our teacher in her portion of my critique. Now that was a good moment. She offered other comments that fall under the "construction criticism" category (and I'm grateful for them) but I think up until that moment she wasn't sure about me and I wasn't sure I could deliver what I knew I had in me. Now the real work begins because it was just a glimpse and I have more to prove to her and to me.

Mini-Mission #4: I had fun singing in front of others.

Not bad for an 8 week class! I called these "mini" missions because while I consider each of them important and successes, I can't say I really owned them or that the work is over. In fact, it truly has just begun and if I want to improve, the list of missions to be accomplished and re-accomplished is literally never ending. My fear? That I'll quit. I hope I don't make that choice. I hope I've come far enough to see that I'm worth it, as cheesy as that sounds. Now, that would be a whole other mission accomplished!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Life 101

“There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” - Nelson Mandela

I don't know exactly what this means for me but they are words that I can't quite shake. I've been thinking a lot lately about risk and letting go and saying yes and trust and perception of self and limitations and fear. They are concepts/words that have shown up time and again in my life but I happen to be in a place now where they are SCREAMING at me. How will I respond to them?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Mystery

Clearly, I've got voice on my mind these days and if you're not already tired of me talking about it then keep reading. All others, don't say I didn't warn you. I've been studying privately with a lovely woman/teacher since March, increased my reading on the topic & online research, watched more live performances, and a few weeks ago I began an 8-week workshop. It's funny, with each new step toward the thing I love, I am petrified (literally shaking) but right afterwards, something good happens. It feels like the universe is rewarding my efforts, letting me know that I am doing exactly what I am meant to be doing. It's a little crazy. And a little mysterious. And I like it.

The "good happenings" that I'm speaking of aren't major things like Broadway offers or the sudden disappearance of those extra pounds I've been wanting to loose rather they are most often vocal improvements that I didn't expect at all or at least not so soon. I am singing almost daily so I'm putting in the work and incremental improvements are to be expected. But these reward moments are often LEAPS or at least that's how they feel to me so it's really exciting!

After a kind of disappointing performance in my last class (mostly because I misunderstood an assignment & then felt unprepared) I made an extra strong commitment to my work/song for this week. On my way home from a long day at the office, I was lamenting my tiredness and couldn't wait to go home and do, well, nothing. Ah, doesn't that sound perfect? But I really needed to sing today so I turned off the radio after reminding myself of my own commitment, pulled out my pitch pipe (yes, I carry it around) and started warming up. My range felt bigger today which isn't something that I've been trying for at all. My upper register was opening up with ease and then a miraculous thing happened. By the time I got home I seemed to be belting (or maybe mixing- I'm still a little fuzzy on the difference sometimes) up to an E! I was barely getting a C# out before, why was this happening? What had I done differently? How can I be sure to recreate this next time? So many questions were flying through my mind. I decided to forget dissecting it and just experience it. I ran into my apartment, pulled out my music and keyboard and had a fantastic practice session. It was SO fun! It's definitely not lovely up there but it will be. And my iffy belting Cs were totally solid! My song for this week felt better than it has yet and some of the questionable notes were totally working themselves out. I was (am) so excited!

In my classical training, belting was unbelieveably discouraged and so I never did it but musical theatre was always my love so it was all confusing to me. When I made the decision to start studying again, I also made the choice to sing what I want! And I am. And it's great. I could say I wish I had started earlier in my life but what would be the point? Today, I belted an E and that's never happened before and I can't explain it or tell you that it will happen again tomorrow. I'm just celebrating this mystery today.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Happiness in July

A collection of moments and things that made me smile. (Another post that will grow as the days in July pass by.)

1. Seeing my adorably pregnant sister (in-law) and brother for the first time since the baby news was announced.
2. I loved having them stay with me, my apartment felt more alive.
3. Beautiful photography exhibit.
4. "In The Heights" with Lin-Manuel Miranda.
5. Finishing a project that will soon be a gift.
6. Vibrant colors.
7. Umami burger.
8. Pink nail polish.
9. Coffee.
10. Dreaming.
11. Singing in the car.
12. Other artists- their art, their perspectives on life/work/craft, their personalities & vulnerability.
13. A bowl full of fresh cherries.
14. Party preperations.
15. Monochromatic flowers.
16. My brothers' laughter.
17. Lemongrass.
18. Being myself.
19. World Cup with my brothers.
20. Smiles.
21. Crawling into my comfy bed.
22. Cousins. Baby cousins.
23. A cancelled meeting.
24. The thought of a chocolate milkshake.
25. The actual chocolate milkshake.
26. Memories of old friends.
27. Expressive photographs. Or photographs of expressive faces.
28. Thoughts of Italy.
29. French accents.
30. Sunshine on my shoulders.
31. Visiting the ocean in the middle of the work day.
32. Showing up for my life.
33. Giggling by myself at the drive thru car wash.
34. Paying off a large (for me) bill.
35. Working on new music.
36. A little time spent reading/writing in a coffee shop.
37. Turning my phone off for the weekend.
38. Fame reruns. (Thanks, Hulu.)
39. Realizing the studio is a safe place again...finally.
40. Laughing at myself & my silly fears.
41. Taking a risk, anyway.
42. Improvements, presence, personal growth
43. A truck full of young, leafy, green, trees bouncing down the road to a new home(s).
44. Champagne at noon. At work.
45. A great practice session.
46. Beach time.
47. Red wine.
46. An evening spent falling into a book.
47. Good news for good people.
48. Becoming comfortable performing again. A little at a time.
49. A beautiful card & words.
50. Red nails.
51. Ended the month with at a comedy club with lots of laughs.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Things Learned in June

(This post will continue to grow throughout the month. I hope.)

1. My work ethic is best demonstrated when singing.
2. I'm quite sure that singing has healing properties.
3. Singing replaces the need for energy drinks. (Not that I've ever been one to drink them.)
4. Practice really does make perfect, or at least significantly better.
5. Taking a risk allows you to move forward when you didn't know you were standing still.
6. Freedom is multi-layered.
7. My sister is an artist.
8. I hate the smell of McD's "food."

9. I'm very particular about drinking glasses. (Only when purchasing them.)
10. I need to take an audition class or something because today's audition was just embarrassing.

11. Donuts are not my friends.

12. When feeling lethargic or overwhelmed or negative, doing something good for me (no matter how small) helps every time.

13. My imagination is alive and well.
14. I still love soccer.
15. The result of a good, full night's sleep is worth going to bed early.
16. I have a white hair in my eyebrow. This, along with #15, might officially make me old but I chose to believe otherwise.

17. I miss friends.

18. It's possible to miss someone you've never met.

19. I find unending inspiration from people who live life as though it's a full contact sport.

20. I like garbanzo beans...a lot.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Scared Silly

I did a silly thing. (Oh, for the purpose of this post "silly" means "scary." It will freak me out less, right?) I know it won't seem silly to those of you who don't live in my head which, admittedly, is all of you but I find it a wee bit terrifying. Maybe there are a few of you who have walked a similar path or had a similar life experience, one where artistically you have been squashed like a bug. If so, I'm sorry you had to go through that, I know it's incredibly difficult and can take a long time to recover. In my case, it's been years and I'm still recovering...actively recovering now.

I'm proud of the steps I've taken over the last 4+ months and can see my artistic self reemerging more everyday. It's exciting and silly as I approach each new step. As I've mentioned, I've been studying voice again and loving it. This time around I have a better sense of who I am and what I want to be learning and singing. It's fantastic. I'm learning a lot and trying new things but I haven't sung outside of my voice teachers studio yet so it's all still very safe.

Musical theatre is the thing I fell in love with as a little girl and that is one of the few things in my life that hasn't changed. The Tony Awards is practically a national holiday in my world! It's my taste of NY theatre and I look forward to it every year. Doesn't everyone?! Well, this is where the silly thing I did comes into to play. I uploaded a video of myself singing and entered a contest to win a trip to NY/Tony Awards. I wasn't going to tell you about it. (Notice it took me 3 paragraphs of blah, blah, blah to even tell you what I did?!) It was going to be my little way of putting myself out there again, secretly entering the world of performing without my family and friends knowing. It was safer that way. Well, screw being safe! I've been safe for far too long and isn't life all about taking risks? I have a million and one disclaimers I want to shout out loud about this video and my performance but I'm not going to do that. I'll just tell you that this is my first step towards making my first public appearance in a very long time. It's silly but empowering and if just one person enjoys even one note or gets a tiny bit of something positive out of listening/watching, I'll be thrilled. And even if they don't, I'm proud of myself. I feel like on my way to something...hopefully great. This is gonna be fun!

So, this link will take you to my video entry and if you feel so inclined, check it out and vote! (The first voting phase ends at 11:59am PST/2:59pm EST on June 1st.) Gotta start somewhere, why not at the Tonys?

Oh man, I just got nervous.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Artist. Person.

Last night, I did one my very favorite things- I went to the theatre. I heard beautiful singing by a beautiful singer. Just her and her musical director at the piano. Bliss. She sang some of, what I imagine are, her favorite songs to perform. The thing that captures me in a performance like this is when a performer allows herself to be seen as a person. A human being, breathing, feeling, perfectly flawed, uniquely talented, simple & complex. If a performer can bravely be a person while sharing her art, I am all in. I am touched & impressed & inspired. The lovely Sutton Foster is a talented artist & brave person. On some level, I felt like I could relate to her and I learned a lot by watching and listening to her from my front row, stage left seat at the Kirk Douglass Theatre. As they say, I laughed, I cried, it was great!

Art is funny. It's an incredibly vulnerable act to share one's art publicly. And yet, if you're an artist, it's the most obvious act in the world because it's the only thing that makes sense to you. For me, this is a struggle so to see people couragously sharing their art with the world is deeply moving and impactful.

This time, it was Sutton Foster and Michael Rafter that moved and impacted me. And I hope they somehow sensed my genuine gratitude.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Letter to the Editor

Dear Amy,

You have embarked on a journey to rediscover your artist and you have made significant progress. Congratulations! You have much to be proud of and I look forward to seeing your continued growth in the coming weeks, months, years.

This letter is intended to be read by the self that will likely appear at various points in the future: the self that will question whether or not you've made enough progress to make it worth it, the self that will doubt your dreams and ability to make them reality, the self that will advise you to quit. To that self I say, "remember today, this moment, this feeling." You just took your 3rd voice lesson in over a decade and you LOVE it! Nothing makes you happier than singing. Nothing is more fun. Nothing feels more like...you. The vocal progress you've made in these few lessons is astounding so just imagine how great you will sound and feel after a year(s) of practicing and studying!

This is just the beginning and you owe it to yourself and the universe to do the thing you were meant to do, to follow your passions, and to heal. There will be challenges and painful moments but the joy you feel walking into or out of the studio is the thing you must hold on to. Someday, you'll sing in front of people again and then you'll have another feeling to hang on to when things get hard but for now, you have this. And "this" is pretty great. "This" makes your whole being smile. "This" is why it's all worth it.

So, remember "this" and keep putting one foot in front of the other no matter your circumstances. You can do it. You are doing it. Bravo!

Sincerely,
Amy

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Psst...

I just sent my first email to a voice teacher in the LA area. I don't even know where her studio is located or if this will be the best fit (although she looks to be fantastic!) but it's exciting because something, somewhere will work out. And I'll be singing again. It's terrifying and exhilarating and I can't wait.

Oh, and it's 2010 and I haven't written here in many, many months. Perhaps, I'll return more often. Until then, I'm off to rediscover an artist...me.