the heart and the voice

(It’s been a while. I had the best of intentions when I said I would be blogging regularly on my newest goals and dreams. I’ve been at work, slowly but surely, and either haven’t had anything to write or I’ve been so occupied by life that this blog had to come second. Sorry I wasn’t as good as my word… but I’m back for now. OK, disclaimer over…)

The new year has been a time of redirecting for me, in a more profound way than usual. Perhaps redirection isn’t quite the right word, maybe returning is more accurate. My heart, my soul, my body have been missing singing in a huge way since summer when I let my practicing slide to make room for the big changes taking place in our lives. The habits have taken this long to make their way back into my life; and only by necessity. I finally found something in Vancouver that I wanted to audition for and then I had to practice, no choice in the matter.

Several things happened in those evenings of finding my voice again. Like returning to a house once lived in and discovering a nook that one doesn’t remember being there, new parts of my voice opened up to me. A new note up top, a new note or two in the basement. After not singing classical music for nearly six months! Something I will never understand about singing is that breaks are often the best possible thing for one’s voice. I also found that phrases in arias that were hard to get through in one breath were now effortless. It could be all the running I’ve been doing… I am probably in the best shape of my life, but I didn’t expect this to cross over to my singing for some reason.

Most importantly, I am rediscovering my heart for singing. As a young singer trying to make my way in the world, it’s incredibly easy to lose sight of this and think only about how to get heard, how to get roles, how to get that high G. I am remembering what it feels like to sing and to communicate and to connect to my heart in the process. It’s a beautiful thing. There is absolutely no other reason I should be singing, and if I should forget this ever again, I hope it’s a truth that will return to me, or that I’ll quit entirely.

It’s all happening. I have a lead role in an operetta in May, two possible upcoming (big) auditions, and I’m in the process of beginning a teaching studio again. This is my heart, to communicate truth with my voice and to help others do the same. By the grace of God, the opportunities keep coming when I make myself available and prepared.

The preparedness, the diligence it takes to get there, will always be the hard part for me. But I am learning to conquer the excuses, one step at a time, and give myself grace when I fall.

30 things

I’ve been inspired lately by a few other bloggers’ lists. They have taken different forms and sizes, but all have something in common: goals and dreams. Since I’ve been thinking so much about goals lately, and having decent success with one in particular, I decided to take on this task. So, here we go:

30 things I want to do before I turn 30

1. finish a half marathon 11.21.10 in 2:14:13

2. audition for a real opera company

3. plant a garden

4. keep a garden alive long enough to harvest it

5. make new friends

6. keep the old

7. commute entirely by bike and public transit

8. read my Bible more

9. Develop a Rule of Life and stick with it

10. perfect my aria package

11. compete in the Metropolitan Opera Council Auditions and NATS Artist Award

12. have a baby

13. continue learning how to be a good wife to Nate

14. see the Aurora Borealis

15. hike part of the Pacific Crest Trail

16. ride the STP (Seattle-to-Portland)

17. start a music school (or at least write the business plan)

18. star in a local opera

19. raise a puppy

20. become a local-ivore

21. become more politically aware and active

22. cook my way through a classic cookbook- Julia Childs or Mark Bittman?

23. see NYC

24. attend a professional conference for teaching voice or Kindermusik

25. start a neighborhood gathering or community dinner in our home

26. become a better piano and guitar player

27. write songs and play gigs

28. discover how to live more simply

29. learn to live in the moment

30. write more letters and cards

We’ll see how it goes! 5 years and a few months. Can I do it?

P.S. I know you’re reading this… but I don’t know who you are! Leave me a comment, ’cause I want to hear about you, too! What’s on your list?

the middle of the end

me and one of my Kindermusik kiddos, on our last day of class

Most of the important decisions we make in life are followed by a waiting period before the change truly takes effect. Nine months for a baby; an engagement to get married, months of shopping before buying a house. We knew we were moving to Vancouver in February; now it’s the end of June, and we still have two months before our move.

My emotions have run the gamut during these months. I’ve been anxious to start our life there, and not ready to leave our life here at the same time.  For a long time now, Vancouver has seemed like an imaginary place that we’ll only visit in our dreams. It’s all we talk about, yet nothing is happening yet. It’s the kid-waiting-for-Christmas phenomenon– at least that’s how I feel.

And yet all this time has been necessary. Logistically, we’ve needed time to research and prepare. The next few weeks will be busy as we actually begin the paperwork, apartment hunting and moving process. Mentally, I’ve needed time to wrap my head around the leaving aspect of this choice. The part I’ve hated the most, though, is all the goodbyes I’ve had to say in the past few weeks. Finishing all my teaching jobs and saying goodbye to people I’ve developed connections with, but won’t be in my life from here on, has made my heart ache.

Today, I finish this process of saying goodbye. Anyone from now on who I say “goodbye” to, it’s really “see you later”. Friends and family will be in my life still, I’m confident of this. Friendships may change, but this is a part of life and I’m excited to see what comes out of it. So finally, I see some light at the end of this Vancouver-shaped tunnel. Now, to find the strength to make it to September…

champagne, arias, and iTunes

This was a lovely evening. My last voice studio recital was tonight, and my kids, as slammed as they are at the end of the school year, sang absolutely wonderfully. They have made so much improvement, and I feel so affirmed as a teacher! I only have one more lesson with some of them. My heart breaks to leave them, but I know I will hear about their lives from afar. Who knows… maybe one day, I’ll be competing with them.

The other success of the evening was I debuted “Ach, ich fuhl’s”, an opera aria I’ve been working on for a while. It went quite well, and although I know I still have a lot of work to do on it, it felt good to get a trial run out of the way. There were even a few moments that I felt the piece take over and my voice do things I didn’t tell it to (good things), which is always a bit exciting.

Nate and I came home to pack for our trip to California and our neighbor was throwing some sort of party. On a Thursday evening. A loud one. I have to admit, I was a little peeved a) because they were being loud and I wanted to go to sleep and b) because I wasn’t invited. But as I’m stuffing my airline-approved-sized toiletries into my airline-sized clear ziploc bag, Nate says, “Listen, honey, someone is singing!” Oh great. Bad karaoke is all I need right now, I think. Then Nate continues “I think they’re singing opera!” I go to the window, and sure enough, some mezzo-soprano is belting an aria next door, and quite well. Being the sneak and the extrovert I am, I slip on some shoes and mosey into the courtyard. I hear her finish and everyone clap, so I knock on the door (why not?!). She yells “entree vous!” so I entree… and introduce myself… and before I know it I’m drinking a glass of champagne (it’s Champagne Thursday, of course) and introducing myself to several local opera singers. My neighbor Vicki, who I’ve met once or twice, turns out to be a dramatic mezzo-soprano who sings in local houses, and now I have an open invitation to come over and practice on her baby grand and attend the frequent “diva nights” she and her friends hold.

Moral of the story: when the diva sings, knock on the door, and you may just be handed a glass of champagne.

Side note: This photo also contains proof of my newly-spent iTunes giftcard. I am now the proud owner of The Weepies and Fleet Foxes most recent albums… if only to prove that an opera singer can have varied tastes in music.

all I wanna do is… cry.

Sometimes, the radio dj makes a poor choice of music for my personal moment. As I was driving home tonight from a fabulous opening night of Beauty and the Beast which I helped direct, it finally hit me that we are actually leaving this city– this country, in fact– in less than four months. Sadness I haven’t experienced yet surrounding this change struck me with a wave of tears, accompanied by Sheryl Crow singing “All I Wanna Do is Have Some Fun”. I guess the DJ gets points for irony.

This week has been full of proud momma moments for me. The preschoolers I teach sang beautifully at their spring concert on Tuesday night. They were so fun to watch; it is such a wonderful feeling knowing that I have brought music into their lives and that, hopefully, what I have shared will take root and blossom as they grow themselves.

These childrens’  hugs and “thank you”s and cards at the end of the concert weighed heavily on me just as they warmed my heart. The relationships I have worked so hard to build, the hundred(s) names I have learned, will soon become just a memory. Knowing that I would have to say goodbye at some point doesn’t make it any easier when it’s my own choice that takes me away.

Worse, though, is the thought of leaving my high school students behind. I am so proud and full of love for each of them. I wish I could be around to see them bloom, to help them through their college decisions, and to keep pushing them to excellence. They have become my friends; I’ll just plain miss them.

Yes, Sheryl, all I wanna do is have fun too. But I wanna have fun with the kids I know and love. I’m not ready for new ones yet. Sorry.