The Joy Of Studying Your Craft
Last Friday I volunteered for battle of the bands here in NYC. It was held at a very well known place that broadcasts one of the most popular radio shows in the whole country. I had been in the building many times before to volunteer for some other events. The deal is that you help seat people and keep the area organized and you can see any of the shows for free. This is truly a win/win situation. I arrived early, as I always do, and there were refreshments and musicians all around and the vibe was really great. I knew that the evening would be very entertaining.
As I roamed around and looked for the coordinator for the evening, I ran into a woman that I recognized. I did not recognize her by face, I knew her voice somehow. We spoke and she told me her name. It was then that I realized she was a woman that I had heard many times on a radio show that I really enjoyed. I complimented her and found out that she was one of the judges for this evening. I made some other friends that evening as well. I was also pleasantly surprised to find out that 13 bands would be playing one song each!! That was going to be so much fun for sure.
I watched each and every band play their one song and I was only inspired by about 3 of them, however, each one gave me some priceless information about what to do or not to do onstage.The styles ranged from Hip Hop, to Salsa, to acoustic drums, piano and voice and so forth. As I watched these brave warriors of song, a question came up over and over again, "Why isn't your band here?" I know that I have to make sure that I am here next year without question.I studied how they dressed, held the microphone, connected with the crowd, enunciated their words, danced, and most of all brought their brand of passion to the stage. I was not taking notes, however, had I taken them, I would have had 20 pages or more of golden observations.
I had my own opinion about who should have won, yet at this moment., I have not found out who won that night. One thing that stuck out in the evening was a Spanish group that played violins and had female drummer, and sang, and smiled so wide and happy that you had no choice but to love them. During their performance, a few hairs from one of the players bow started flying. Did you know that between 150 to 200 strands of horse hair from the tail of a horse are used for the violin bow? That is a fascinating fact to me. Anyhow, he never blinked. He kept playing and he sounded amazing! I loved that moment. In music as in life, you must use what you have at that moment to create the music. Update, I just checked to see if they were one of the finalists and they are!!!You can have a look at the exact performance that I saw HERE. What a great group with so much spirit.
I am continually studying my performances each and every time that I go onstage. I want to reach people and make a difference when I perform. I do it first for myself, because this is my air. However, I am very serious about creating a new space for people to exist in when I am singing. So this past Saturday night I was on stage and a woman came up to me after I left the stage. She was beyond complimentary and she wanted to let me know that she thoroughly enjoyed my voice and how amazed she was that I was singing these old standards. I thanked her and I gave her a hug. I had made a connection to her from the inside, it was magic. Later on in the evening, she danced alone near the stage and just kept smiling at me. It was very moving. Her husband looked at her from afar and seemed to be content that she was so very happy.
Each and every day I am proud to have chosen a profession that had a continual amount of learning built into it. There will always be more songs, more instruments, more venues, more players, more languages to learn songs in, more instruments to learn in other countries. On top of that, there will always be a myriad of emotions and observations to pull from to create any kind of music that I desire. Every now and then I listen to a cassette that I sent to the music college that I attended to get into their school. I am very nervous, breathy, unsure, and most of all just untrained. Listening to that tape lets me know how far I have come on my journey and how much further I have to go. That is magic and I am so very grateful for this...