Monday, June 8, 2009

Support for the Amateur

I often like to compare the singing journey to other journeys I am on and that I witness because there are so many connections and parallels between different disciplines, that examining principles under one can provide enlightening to the other.

I have dabbled a little in the running world. One thing I have always noticed is that runners, almost to a fault, are extremely encouraging and supportive of beginners. The elite runners have, from my experience, always been helpful to the runners in the bottom rung.

My first experience of this was in high school when I ran on the cross country team. I was on the girls team, which had only five members, and we ran and coached with the boys team. I was the slowest girl. I had joined because a friend asked me because they needed a 5 to make a team.

Our coach made everyone wait until the last runner was finished with practice before we could go home. I always felt embarrassed, especially in front of the top guy runners, to come in as they were all standing there waiting. But everyone was always so patient.

When they gave out the letters for cross country, I was surprised to hear the coach call my name and include me in those who had lettered. I hadn't expected that at all, due to my poor performance during the season. However, the coach announced to the assembly that I ran every mile that the others had run, and therefore deserved the letter.

Maybe this is why I have always had such a positive association with running.

Beyond that, I am amazed at the way fast, strong, elite runners, will often accompany a newbie on a run, stopping and starting, even though this must be so slow for them. They seem willing to do it out of love for their sport and it has always struck me as a wonderful thing.

Could it be like this for singers? Could the advanced and elite love what they do so much that they extend themselves to those who are struggling to learn? The amateurs and the new singers trying to break into the business.

Sometimes it appears as if there is such competition, both in the professional world, and the amateur arena, for solo performing opportunities, that this spirit that is seen among runners seems absent sometimes in the music world. It almost feels like "Welcome to the music world, where you are on your own! Good luck to you!"

In the running world there are so many events for runners. 5Ks, 10Ks, 1/2 marathons, full marathons. There are events open to just the elites, marathons where you have to qualify with a time. That's well and good. But there are still gobs of places where everyone can go and race.

One place I have found some support and encouragement is a message board for classical singers The New Forum for Classical Singing There is a mix of all kinds of singers posting and chatting with each other about all kinds of topics. They are very welcoming to hobbyist singers, and althought singing is something that is better learned live, there is much good information being shared there that can help all singers.

I would love to see singers from all walks getting together on projects, just like one sees runners of all levels and abilities gathering for an organized race.

Who knows? Maybe I will organize something someday. A pro-am competition, or something like that! Something where everyone is welcome and all come to celebrate the work each singer has done, no matter what their level.

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