Friday, December 4, 2009

Wasted Work? Turn Negatives into Positives.

What happens when a singer puts a lot of work into preparing a piece of music, only to have the "gig" changed or cancelled?  It is disappointing not to be able to proceed as planned, but when I change my thinking, something that feels so negative, can turn into a great big positive.

Just today on twitter, the Joan Hamburg Show tweeted  some links to pages that had great suggestions on how to change our thinking and turn negatives into positives.  In the first link, Change Your Thoughts, Change Your World, there are techniques from cognitive behavioral therapy that help to examine thoughts that are producing distress or disappointment.  By paying attention to thoughts, challenging and questioning them, finding the false beliefs within them, and then substituting better beliefs, we can transform the way we feel about a situation.

In another tweet link, Turning Negativity Into Positive Action she recommends taking a deep breath whenever in distress, and then putting a positive spin on whatever action is about to be undertaken.

I have written to you about two different events I have been practicing for in the past few weeks.  One of them is the Christmas Eve "gig" singing "O Holy Night" and the other is for our upcoming choir concert on December 12.  I put a lot of work into preparing for each of these two events and I shared the work with you in Frescamari's Practice Room

Let's see how to put the positive spin on some disappointments that have developed in each case.

Case 1: The Christmas Eve Gig 
(cf: "How Shall I Dress; What Key Shall I Sing In?  For My Christmas Eve Gig?")
If you remember, I had been approached by the choir director for my church and he asked me if I would perform a solo, "O Holy Night" on Christmas Eve.  I accepted and wrote in the post about how excited I was.

As the events unfolded, the next weekend the organist said he was writing an arrangement of the piece, and wanted it to modulate so that another singer could do the second verse, and then the choir would join in.    He asked me what key he should write my part in. Okay, this was not the solo I had originally expected, but it still was good. I enthusiastically told the organist about Frescamari's Practice Room, and that he could hear samples of me trying out three different keys there.  I e-mailed him a link to the site. (cf "Trying Out O Holy Night in Three Keys")

He wrote back that there were technical difficulties with his computer and he could not listen to my files, but that he thought the Key of C would be good for me.

But later, when I received the pdf file of his "O Holy Night" arrangement, he had written my part in the Key of Bflat.  I also discovered that  I would be singing the alto part in a duet at the end of the piece.

This was completely different from what I had anticipated and I was a bit upset about it.

Change Thoughts -- Deep Breath -- Change to Positive Action:  Church is a place where I gather with people in my community who share my faith.  The purpose of music in the liturgical setting is completely different than what is created for entertainment.  I will sing what is written for me, harmonize with the other singer, and help to create a special moment for the people as they meditate and pray about this very important moment in the history of their faith.

Case 2: Suscepit Israel and the Case of the Shrinking Alto Part
(cf:  Choir Practice)
Do you remember the post Choir Practice; Suscepit Israel from Bach Magnificat -- where I work hard on tricky entrances for a big voiced singer in a choir?

Well, last night I arrived at choir excited to sing "Suscepit" with new vocal confidence attained from having practiced the tricky parts.  But that enthusiasm was soon dampened by the news that our choir director had decided to eliminate a chunk of alti from those entrances because the alto section outnumbered the other parts and was throwing the entire choir out of balance.  It is understandable that the bigger-voiced alti were taken off the part, but I felt a keen disappointment in not being able to sing what I had worked so hard on.  In fact, I was so disappointed that it was hard for me to sing, something which almost never happens to me, for the rest of the rehearsal.

Change Thoughts -- Deep Breath -- Change to Positive Action:
Being in a choir is a completely different musical experience than being a soloist.  The sound of the group is the artistic product.  If some individuals are causing the group sound to be less in some way, that needs to be fixed.  The conductor is the ears and has the artistic vision of how the piece should come across.  She can arrange her singers any way that produces the effect she wants.  That's what it is to be in a choir.

Decision and Mental Note:  After I give my first "coming out" recital (find and see countdown timer in right hand column of this blog), I intend to plan a Christmas Recital full of songs I want to sing, where I can be in control of the program!

In both these cases, did the hard work go to waste?  No, because I participated in the creative process, which to me is more valuable than the actual resulting performance. Sometimes for a hobbyist singer, there are no upcoming "gigs."  Believing that I was going to have to sing these pieces gave me a place to focus my training, which can tend to go all over the place when there is no upcoming performance.  The work I did on those songs was very valuable to me as a singer and has brought me further along the path to the greatly desired goal of becoming a high level classical singer.

****UPDATE****  I mentioned above that I e-mailed the Suscepit Israel link from Frescamari's Practice Room to my choir director. She has e-mailed me back and said to go ahead an sing on those tricky entrances!!
P.S.  If you decide to sign up for twitter after checking out the links contained in this post, don't forget to follow Avocational Singer. Check out the twitter button in the right-hand column of my blog.

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