After a grueling lesson with my voice teacher yesterday, and after a 24 hour period of THINKING how NOT to think, I THINK I've got what he means.
In my lessons, during a vocal exercise, he wants me to simply DO what he says, not process what he says and how it corresponds to my own preconceived understanding of the voice. When he asks me "how does that FEEL", he wants to hear a self-aware answer of how that FELT, not a processed THINKING answer about what I THINK my teacher wants to hear.
Two things: He wants me to be self-aware. He wants me to trust him.
Both are very hard for me.
I've been a "singer" all my life, since the 5th grade spring choir concert where I sang my solo, "Tomorrow", with a navy blue and white polka-dotted bow in my hair, while my friend's dad sat in the audience making funny faces and trying to make us all laugh.
I've studied voice since I was 14 years old. All through high school, studying voice was fun. I knew then that I wanted to sing the rest of my life. But in college, the first time I walked into my new voice teacher's studio surrounded by upperclassmen who were confident and comfortable, with classical voices that could burst my eardrums, I felt uneasy, out of place, scared, and insecure.
Maybe it was how all freshmen felt when entering the world of recitals and music hours and practice rooms, but for me, all through college, it never went away. I dreaded my voice lessons. I dreaded practicing. Don't get me wrong, I loved singing. But I loved singing on my own terms. I loved singing in my musical theater touring ensemble. I loved singing in my 4-person gospel group, through which I made a couple of records, my first professional gig, a living for a few years, and friends for life.
But the trained art to singing: I feared.
I felt inadequate. I later realized that it's the things we really love to do that we're most afraid of, because we're afraid of failing if we try.
I really loved to sing, and I was deathly afraid of failing at it. So, I compared myself to everyone around me and found sure ways of finding the negative about myself. I lost a bunch of weight. Too much. And it might have been around this time, or was it part of me my whole life?, that I began to mold myself on account of pleasing others.
In college, I lost myself. It wasn't until I married Seth that I rediscovered my worth in who I was. Seth's love for me reminded me of the love Christ had for me, for who I was at the core, not who I thought I needed to be to make someone else like me. It was and still is a process.
SO, when I walk into a voice lesson with a voice teacher who has successful students on Broadway and internationally renowned opera students, the fears of acceptance and self-worth rush back and there I am, trying to be what and who HE wants me to be instead of just being.
My voice teacher just wants me to be.
That was the lesson I learned in my voice lesson yesterday. That's what "not thinking" means to him. It's a hard lesson to learn, a lesson I haven't quite mastered, one that is a process. But it's a place that, if I can get there, will be a place where mistakes are OK, where perfection is boring, where my feelings are validated and useful, where I am vulnerable and able to trust, not just others, but myself. A place that allows me to be the best artist I can be.