Well-Aged

Age gives everything a different, more diffused perspective. It makes it easier to tolerate things that seems unacceptable when you are young. It teaches forgiveness and compassion. Things are not always just black and white.

When you begin something, unless you are very lucky and have an excellent mentor, you can’t see very far into the process. You may not know the way to go unless you have been taught what steps to follow and that leaves you to trial and error, a painful and slow process. Even when you have a mentor you can still get lost but without one it’s both lonely and scary.

Since singing isn’t organized in any formal manner and there are so many ideas about it, it is perhaps even more likely that you will get lost or at least face a few serious detours if you study. Even if you have a clear idea of where you would like to go, there is no guarantee that you will arrive.

After decades of life experience one has the advantage of looking backwards. It is possible to see where you have been, what roads you have traveled. It’s possible to review the ups and downs and the successes and failures and gain some insight into the whole tapestry. If you are lucky, there will only be a few regrets.

Age cannot go back into the past and make it be different but it can change how you look at the past and that perspective actually does change things in the present, sometimes a lot. Recently I read that the actor Patrick Stewart has always resented his father who beat his mother and was very cold and brutal to him. Turns out he discovered that his father had been on the front lines in the war and had seen a lot of violence and was suffering from what we now call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. While it doesn’t excuse his father’s actions, it allowed Stewart to see that there were reasons why he behaved the way he did. He has decided to do charity work for both battered women (for his mother) and work with PTSD victims (for his dad). How he sees his past, now, as an older man, has changed what it means to him in the present.

I have met and spoken to many people who had terrible voice training in their younger days and who were damaged by it, some so badly that they never sang again. This is a tragic loss. I have met people who loved to sing more than anything else who gave up singing because of someone who hurt them so deeply they did not have the will to go on. I came close to being in this situation more than once but my desire to sing was ultimately stronger than my ability to throw in the towel. I’m still here. Beat up, maybe, but not a quitter. I have learned to look at my past as a journey during which I learned some hard lessons. Now I make those lessons work for me as a teacher. I use what I learned, what I experienced and what went wrong to help others avoid, as much as I can, the same messy issues. It’s not a guarantee, but it’s a possible map and that’s better than having none. If there is such a thing as “aging well”, I’m trying my best to do that. Sometimes it really is the best “revenge”.

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One thought on “Well-Aged”

  1. Thank very much for sharing this. I completed the Level I workshop and I’m new to your teacher’s association. I’m reading all of your blog entries. This classically trained singer-teacher is morphing! Thank you!

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