Growing inch by inch

It’s hard to believe that it is January 31 here in Toronto. It nearly feels balmy with the temperatures in the mid 40s. I could handle winter remaining like this for the next few weeks as we finish up the “Siegfried” run here in Canada. I’m looking forward to a few weeks away from the stage and spending time again in my studio at Wichita State before heading to Washington, D.C. and a long awaited Ring time period.

We sometimes, as singers, expect perfection. I constantly have to remind myself, and my students, that perfection does not belong to this earth. We have to allow ourselves to have singing experiences that aren’t our best. We can’t be afraid to fail. It is the difficult times that teach us the most. It is through struggles that we grow. Maybe that’s why I’m 6’5”.

I’ve had plenty of times, as a singer, when I’ve had to re-evaluate what I’m doing vocally and technically to make sure the growth continues--especially after performances that aren’t up to just what I’d like for them to be.

We had a fine opening night last week. Wednesday’s performance was a GREAT performance--one of my best I’ve had on this role. Last night, well, it just wasn’t my best. It wasn’t a catastrophe by any means. Act 1 and Act 2 went very well. For some reason, Act 3 was just a harder experience--it happens. So, I take time and take stock to evaluate that performance. Was I cutting the vowels off too much? Was I pushing? If so, why? Was I not prepared mentally? Was I singing bel canto? All of these questions will run through my mind over and over until I step onstage again.

I evaluate every performance--the good ones and the ones that aren’t as good. I want to know WHY stuff happens. When nights go well, I want to know what made everything tick. When things are more of a struggle, I want to not leave things to chance--I want to dig in and make things better. We are not machines. Great nights happen---tough nights happen. The trick is to be as even as you possibly can and work for consistency. Some nights are easier than others.

I’ve always said that I will sing until I have nothing left to learn. I may be singing for a very long time.