Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Mighty Big Difference

I think I finally understand the difference between my abilities as a musician and other singers' abilities. I have no master's degree and I've never attended a YAP. Before, these things really didn't matter, and I would get easily irritated with those singers who could only talk about which programs they attended. What does it matter, I thought? Where are you singing next, as that's what matters. Well, now I know why it matters. It matters because of Mozart.

You can't hide in Mozart. Everything is incredibly exposed. The quantity of recitative in Figaro alone would make up the duration of another composer's entire composition. Because I didn't study Mozartean recitative as an undergrad or in graduate school and I didn't have a chance to work out its difficulties in a YAP, I utterly suck at it. Apparently, my Italian isn't good and I have no musical flow. I am missing some key skill, consequently, that makes learning and rehearsing Mozart excruciating for me and annoying to those around me.

Since Mom died, I've been hugely struggling with focus. I simply don't seem to be able to concentrate for long periods and I have very little desire to do anything other than spend time with my family. While preparing for this role, I did something I've never done before: I missed four pages of music I should have learned. I didn't realize my mistake until our first music rehearsal, where my sightreading attempts when it came to those pages was disastrous, and I may as well have been unprepared for the entire show for how it made me look, even though the rest of the opera was off book. I'm ashamed of my unpreparedness, but I'm more alarmed at my response to it. I, of course, came home and immediately started learning, coached the missed music the next day and worked very hard to get it memorized, but I still felt out of sorts and incapable of setting my mistake aside and moving forward. I got sick, probably from the stress, and I lost my voice, and I would have far rather quit than keep going at that point. Now, every time I sing the music, I feel thick and unresponsive. I can't seem to get my brain completely around it and I just want to move on and come back to it later, but it doesn't work that way, so my incompetence inconveniences the other singers around me as we have to repeat my scenes. Now I'm tired and depressed and the plumbers are coming first thing tomorrow morning to redo our entire house, so I'm anxious about water in addition to everything else.

I have come to a realization about all of this from the last week. I wonder how much longer I will keep singing. My joy in it is fading greatly, but what I can't tell is if it's from grief or a true desire to move on. I'm hoping that will become clear as time goes on, so now all I can do is work harder than I have the energy to do and hope it all works out.


KUrlie said...

What you need is more likely a break from it than to quit it altogether. You haven't stopped really since last summer, and therefore you've tried to fit in your grieving with your singing - which, as we both know, is as much an emotional commitment, perhaps even more, as a physical one. Get through this one show (which btw, I'm sure you will and I'm sure you are doing SO much better from the outside than from your inside-out perspective) and take a rest Suzy. Focus during grief is so elusive and frankly, a near impossibility. Vivi has been a very strong motivator for it, but it doesn't come naturally or easily when you've endured such a loss. And really for god's sake stop berating yourself. I berate your berating. Seriously. OWN that this is one of the worst losses you will ever have. There are only one or two equal and worse my friend, that you hopefully never have to know. It is an ENORMOUS life-altering event. HUGE. And you must take the time and steps to move through it to get somewhere beyond it. Whatever time and whatever steps. I insist you give yourself a break soon, and I know, you've got stuff coming up. But if I can help you find a way, please let me.


Tina Blewett said...

Hello darling sister,
Sigh. I wish you did not have this show right now. I truly believe that the grief is the cause of all this, NOT your lack of degrees or YAP training. You are an incredibly talented, hardworking, conscientious, skillful, actress AND singer. It is just that hard things right now are impossible, and even the easy things are very hard. I know, I'm struggling through it myself. I go to the Spanish group on fridays and I can feel that my brain is 2 steps behind. I should know those words, I should not have to think that hard to translate. And I don't have to SING in that language, and emote convincingly and remember timing, etc!!! You have a very hard, demanding, complex job. I am also sure that you need a break after this. Give yourself more time. But to get through this show, just do the best you can, whatever that means, and whatever that takes. Fuck everyone who thinks otherwise. I ASSURE you, you will be fabulous. Mom is with you, babe. She would say, you can do anything for a short amount of time. :) Right?? When you get up there on stage just think - "This is as easy as doing nothing!" :) You can get through this. I love you! Let me know what I can do to help!!

RedScot said...

Many sympathies for your loss - I understand how grief takes its toll. Time is the real help.

But also: Pressurising yourself and giving yourself heartache over rehearsals which, in the end, will be forgotten about once the first performance is over and you sing fabulously, is terribly counter-productive.

Degrees, in the end, are only letters after your name. You can be the worst musician in the world, but have a wall-full of certificates. Talent will always out and who gets to sing Mozart on paper recommendation only, anyway?

You're right - Mozart is the hardest, in a lot of ways, but you wouldn't be there doing it now, had you not had the potential for doing so in the first place. And after this, Mozart will feel much more comfortable. It is, after all, the doing that gets it into our system.

Hope you don't mind me laying in here - but after your lovely comment in LSG, I had to stalk back.