God's little reminder that there's something else besides us in the universe;
harmonic connection between all living beings, everywhere, even in the stars.
~ Robin Williams (August Rush, 2007)
I remember one of my first karaoke experiences about 15 years ago: I was a cast member in an amateur community theater production with a tradition of celebrating the Friday night of performance week in a karaoke bar. A practice that typically made the direction team a little nervous since they needed us to be voice-ready for 2 performances the following day. This particular amateur cast contained a few... not so amateur voices. Meaning they were uber-talented. Trying not to be discouraged, I climbed on stage as they stepped down and offered my own version of... I don't even remember which song. Another cast member commended me afterwards for getting up on stage after the uber-talented, saying she didn't think she could have done it. Her comments meant to lift me up actually confirmed what I'd already been feeling – slightly less.
For a long time after, I limited most of my solo performances to groups of people who's vocal talents were, in my mind, less likely to exceed my own training. That's not to say I didn't come across some amazing, uber-talent in those groups. But in a safer and smaller way that didn't make me feel slightly less.
A few months ago my feelings about all that changed a little when I wrote a blog about practicing less & performing more. Since then I have had some opportunities to do just that – metaphorically in other areas of my life of course, but literally and musically as well. Like this past Monday when I participated in a line-up of musical talent unlike many I've been a part of before.
A talent show of sorts, or Un-Concert, displaying the abilities from within the choir I joined last year and presented as a fundraiser for the upcoming concert season. Solo and small group acts braved the stage to show off their own hidden gems. Not surprisingly there is some uber-talent within this group!
Finding myself closer to the bottom of the line-up, I sat in the audience increasingly regretting my decision to take a step further in this vulnerable space by sharing an original composition with my them. Knees shaking under my guitar, I reminded myself of the practice less ~ perform more blog and how much I had been able to relax and enjoy the performance that inspired it's words because the pressure to be perfect was lifted. I told myself that in this space of talented peers who know the nerves of performance, the pressure to be perfect – or even better – could be lifted. Deep breath, smile, enjoy!
After the last of the music faded the encouraging, praising, “I didn't know you did that” chatter began. From audience members of course, and between participants. I know my confidence has grown; my voice trained and matured since that karaoke experience 15 years ago. But that was affirmed once again on Monday evening when I felt like I found a space for myself among those talented musicians. A space that – no matter our varying degrees of talent, training, or experience – felt comfortable, accepting, supportive, and best of all: equal!