“Alright, everyone out in the house. Let’s do notes and then we can all go home,” shouted the director. Our diva quickly shimmied out of her 19th Century Victorian confection of a dress. Placing her petticoat and corset neatly back on their designated hangers with her name attached at the top. Character shoes placed in their box, she hustled out to the auditorium.
“Really nice job, everyone. The show is starting to come together. I want each one of you to really focus on how you can individually bring more to the table.” The director started doling out individual notes ping-ponging around the cast until he came to a close, “well, okay, I’ll see you all on Thursday. Stay healthy!” Our diva gathered her bags and wound her scarf to brace against the cold on the way to her car. She sat in the driver’s seat and waited for the car to warm up for a minute. Slowly, as slowly as the engine, she realized that she didn’t get any notes. Her thoughts began to rev up, “Is that a good thing? Am I doing it right? Is that a bad thing? Do I not even warrant a mention?” She mulled it over on the drive home and as she found her parking spot, she decided to chalk this one up to “I’m doing everything right. They’ll tell me if they want me to do something differently.”
The Day 2 challenge on your journey is to ask “when do my eyes light up?”
The next night our diva met up with a few of her closest friends from grad school. One of them was visiting from her new home in Denver while the other two had stayed around the city and suburbs. “That’s what you get when you let the toddler name the pet,” her friend was saying over bubbly conversation and beverages. They all laughed. Our diva was so happy around these girls. She remembered meeting them in studio class lo those many years ago, or at least that’s what it felt like. In actuality, they weren’t too far removed from sitting in that hall listening to each other getting up to perform their arias and pouring over their YAP applications together on the floors of each other’s tiny apartments. But, there were contracts and tours, husbands and kids, and family emergencies and student loan bills to contend with now. She looked to her left and was instantly transported to a memory of watching her friend sing Vilja Lied from the stage in that dilapidated concert hall. She couldn’t believe how her voice soared through the room. So effortless. So golden. In fact, she was the golden child of the studio. It was undeniable. Our diva always knew that she would go far. She used to jokingly tell the other girls, “it would be so easy to hate her if she wasn’t so wonderful.” And, deep in our diva’s heart, she was always slighted self-contented that she was at least in the club with these girls. She knew, then as she did now, that she wasn’t the golden child of the studio. She wasn’t the girl who casting directors fell over themselves to book. But, she was in the mix. She was one of these girls. She had a place.
Stay tenacious, diva.
Our diva knew that she was on the right path. She just had to keep plugging along. She kept telling herself that it was the long game. That she just needed to stay tenacious. “Tenacious, directly from the Latin,” she thought. “An act of holding fast.” She could do that. Hold fast to the dream. Hold fast to keeping the dream on her face as her grandmother had said. “Holding fast, gripping, clingy; firm, steadfast,” she continued. “Hmmm, clingy and gripping doesn’t sound so good.” Maybe she could ease off of the negative connotations. Steadfast she could do.
“Ya know, from tenere ‘to hold.’ That, I can do. Tenere, I can do.” She resolved.
You can practically hear them glowing…
Something from her conversation with her diva friends came back to her as she was chopping up veggies the next day. It made her stop for a moment, chef knife hovering in the air above the cutting board, as she pondered. The girls did all the things you normally do when you get together with professional friends you’ve known for a long time. They talked about past accomplishments and collectively mulled over career choices they’re considering. Each one of them had something that they were excited and enthused about. Granted, they each have gone through some tough spots to get where they are now but they were lighting up about what is before them in their careers. She could see, and even hear, what career counselor Angela Myles Beeching calls, “the light in their eyes.” Her friend to the right talked about a contract in Florida that would take her away from the snow and ice at the perfect time. But, more than the weather, she was practically gleeful about the premiere she would be developing with these excellent musicians there. Going on about the insights into potential stage direction and how they would be recording it after the run, she exuded energy in a way that our diva was absolutely drawn to. Each of her friends, no matter their various singing paths, had those moments during their girls’-night-out in which they glowed with possibility. Our diva wondered to herself, now with the knife absent-mindedly placed on the counter, “did I have an eyes-lit-up moment? Could the girls see the light in my eyes?”
How can this be the path?
These thoughts and remembering her non-notes from rehearsal the other night left our diva in a bit of a funk. She found herself drifting off at her desk thinking about the “stuff” that was getting in her way. She worried that she was rationalizing her slow ascent to success by saying she was “on her way” and that she was “following the path.” As she grew a bit more anxious, she started examining those thoughts and asked, “but whose path? How do I know that I’m following the path? Who told me that this was the path? How can doing a Traviata in the middle of nowhere and not even getting any feedback be ‘following the path’?” Our diva was starting to think about what types of singing she found rewarding and fulfilling. She started thinking about whether or not she was actually building a career that she wanted or whether she was building a career that someone else told her along the way was how it’s done. She didn’t want to stay here. She didn’t want to feel depressed about her singing life and not know how to change anything.
That voice in the night…
It was a tiring day, to be sure. She had gone to work, focused on ‘determination’ at the gym, and fitfully ran through her practice routine. Her body was worn out. But, more than that, her mind was exhausted. As she slumped into her pillow that night she felt a whisper in the back of her brain that kept repeating, “but, I thought this was it. I thought I was doing it right.”
29 Days to Diva: The Worksheets
Want some help completing your Day 2 challenge? I’ve created a simple worksheet just for you. You can use this worksheet as a journal prompt to get you going. We aren’t always sure what truly makes us “light up.” So, take a few moments today to really think about what makes you passionate as a musician.
Try it out! If you like it, I hope you’ll share this post on your favorite social media channels. You can find me @mezzoihnen or feel free to use the hashtag #29DTD or #29DaystoDiva.