Human beings are capable of being unselfish up to and including giving their lives for the sake of others. They are also capable of the most unspeakable atrocities committed without the smallest bit of remorse or sadness. Most people do things unconsciously, meaning they don’t really examine deeply the motives for their behavior or actions. Some people think about or notice what their actions might do or are doing to others, but others are completely oblivious. This is the cause for some of the greatest strife that has ever occurred throughout history.
The vast majority of humanity lives in a stream of unconsciousness. These folks do not plan one single moment of their lives, but bounce from event to event reacting to those events as they occur. When pleasant things happen, they are OK and when unpleasant things take place, they are not. Frequently, after an unpleasant event, the reaction of some folks is to blame something or someone. We all know that placing blame is a righteous honor in many places. Being a victim garners pity, sometimes a lot of pity from others and righteous indignation in the victim. It can start in childhood but sometimes escalates, rather than diminishes, as people age. That is not the only reaction possible. If there is no blame, there is sometimes, instead, denial. This is another easy behavior tolerated well by societies all over the world. The bad thing wasn’t so bad after all, or maybe never even happened, and whatever it was or might have been, I’m fine and that’s that.
The idea that the world can be divided up into opposing forces is exemplified by the life we live on a day to day basis which can be seen as “duality”. The real world is day/night, water/land, fast/slow, up/down, on and on endlessly. We learn, “this is bad, don’t do it” and “good girl, nice job” almost right from the crib. It takes a certain amount of something special, then, to “wake up” from this world and make a conscious decision to take a look at it. It takes a lot, really, to look at something and say, maybe the world is actually not a series of opposite happenings, maybe everything is relative to my perspective of it. This is, actually, closer to the truth. Day fades into night, water laps onto the beach, hills rise up from the flat land, etc. Even being born takes some amount of time.
“Waking up” to life is a big deal. It requires constant diligence and quite a bit of motivation. It is very easy to “fall asleep” into either blame or denial, and it is very easy to “keep on keeping on” without ever questioning one single thing or probing deeply into the psychological or emotional reactions that seems so automatic in all of us. Most people not only don’t care about “waking up” they may have no clue that is it possible or have ever been around anyone who has that type of thought process and behavior. They may not understand how much choice is available over their own “automatic” reactions to life and the events in it, or even how much their own behavior and thinking can contribute to what shows up in their life experience.
The primary way to become aware of one’s own situation is either to have a startling “awakening” or to begin asking, and answering, questions that start with the word “why”. Probing for answers can be slow, tedious, frustrating, frightening, daunting, exhausting and painful, but NOT probing can be much worse. Only knowing, understanding and then choosing something different can break the patterns that bind. You cannot change what you do not know exists.
When I was young I did as I was told, never questioned anyone in authority, trusting that they knew more than I did. I was taught to do this and commended for it. I was not asked to discriminate, I was not encouraged to evaluate, I was not expected to pay attention, just to follow orders. It took me a LONG time to dismantle this behavior but I had some help. Something “mystical” happened to me when I was only 22 that shook me to the foundations of my soul. It started me on the process of asking questions.
One of the questions was “why is there only one way to learn to sing”? “Why can’t I learn to sing like Connie Francis instead of Joan Sutherland”? This was a question that had no answer except “because this is the way it is”.
Everything I have ever written, said, spoken or taught, about singing has underneath it the awareness that what I am putting forth is my opinion and only my opinion. I always understand that each person is on their own journey and that each of us has the experiences we have to learn from life whatever there is to learn. Each of us has a choice to turn life’s unpleasant experiences into a way to close up, become negative, pass judgement, and blame the outside world, or not. Each of us has a choice to look at what has happened with the possibility that there is something to learn in it, something that may be valuable not only to ourselves but perhaps also to others, or not. Each of us has an opportunity to open up and grow when life doesn’t give us what we would have most liked to have, or not.
I question the way CCM is taught, thought about, dealt with, regarded and approached. I question it most with the teachers and since most teachers are in schools, I question academia. I question the values of various kinds of music and singers to attempt a deeper understanding of the similarities and differences between them. I search for patterns, associations, conflicts, assumptions and philosophies that impact them and the extent of that impact. I choose to do this because I think there is value in it and because it has been my experience that this has been done almost not at all or only in a very limited manner.
This is selfish on my part because it makes me feel that all the confusion, frustration and sadness I experienced while I was trying with all my heart to learn to sing was worthwhile. It takes away some of the disappointment that I wasted so much money and time on empty studying. I could see this as a justification for why I did not have a great famous career as a singer. It has been seen as a way for me to make myself well-known, better than other people, a know-it-all, blowhard, diva queen, and maybe all of that is true.
But if there is anything unselfish about it, then it is because I would like to give something to other young singers that no one gave to me…….information, guidance, and the right to QUESTION what training they are being given. I would like them to know that it is more than OK to wake up to the “WHY” questions. Why should I sing like this? Why shouldn’t I sing like that? Why should I listen to this teacher? Why should I be feeling this or hearing that? Why is there no answer to my questions when I ask them? Why would this person be an authority on singing when he or she CAN’T SING??
If you read this blog to come away from it questioning me, and then questioning yourself, I have succeeded in my intention. I have perhaps been a seed in your own vocal “awakening”. If you read this blog to see what blowhard LoVetri has to say today that makes her feel important, well, so be it. It probably does and you are probably correct, but I wouldn’t want to be your student.