A few years ago, I decided to give up music. I wanted to find another meaningful career path that would give me more financial security and stability than that of music. Having identified myself as a musician and being trained in this field, it was a challenge envisioning my skill sets applied elsewhere. I felt less able than I did in music. It felt like I was speaking a broken language in a new country rather than my accustomed fluent speech, music. Eventually I found an interesting job working with adults who wanted to upgrade their work and education skills. My experience working in this position taught me two important lessons that now I am integrating into my musical activities: courage and perspective.
According to one online definition, courage is “the ability to do something that frightens one.” I thought that nothing could scare me more than the day of a performance. Try as I might, I am always nervous before I go on stage. It’s my pattern. However, I didn’t realize the amount of courage I needed to develop in order to carry out my responsibilities in a non-music professional job, where my educational background was vastly different from that of my colleagues. It felt like I was operating at a disadvantage and needed to work harder to prove that I belonged. Surprisingly, when opportunities to grow and learn presented themselves, I took them more readily than I had with singing opportunities. Normally, with singing, I would think and rethink the opportunity, but with my new job, I just took it. As an example, I never imagined that I would be able to create workshops outside of my field of knowledge, particularly
since I have no formal curriculum development studies. The learning curve was big. The courage to complete the task even bigger. I had to learn the topic, create the materials and then teach it. I prepared as diligently as I could, trying to anticipate all the issues and questions that the material might generate. I was very nervous. Yet, I took a leap and I taught it to a group of adults.
When I stop to think about it, that was one of my toughest performances. I took the risk and I was successful. I survived and I felt that I grew as a result. Also, what made me successful and gave me courage was that I listened to the encouragement of my boss who believed I was skilled and talented enough to take on this project. These are lessons that I want to translate into my singing. In an effort to build my courage to take on more challenging performances, a wonderful teacher recently told me that I “have a lot of fans, now join the group.” If I can represent myself successfully in an endeavour that I’m not really trained for, why should I not expect, believe and trust that I can be successful in an area where I have studied and performed in for years?
With the understanding that I could not cover every detail in the workshop, and that this material would be a work-in-progress, needing regular tweaking, I focused on what was important and what would give the students the most valuable information. This brings me to the idea of perspective. When I was creating and delivering the workshop, I had to let go of trying to be “perfect.” Instead, I set realistic expectations for what I could actually accomplish and made a solid plan. It worked. Likewise, as I continue to evaluate my musical endeavours, I must remember to temper my perspective with a more reasonable set of criteria; to focus on being successful, not perfect.