Friday, July 27, 2012

Gail @ Yale

I'm sitting in Philadelphia airport waiting for my final flight to New Haven and the beginning of what I hope will be a wonderful adventure. In February, I auditioned for the International Cabaret Conference at Yale University and was accepted on the spot. Let me explain how radically unbelievable that was for me.

I chose not to study music in college because I'm from a very traditional, practical Midwestern family and community where music is a fun hobby (not a real, reliable profession). It's just assumed that the only thing one could do with a music degree is teach. So, even though I had lived to sing whenever, where-ever possible for as long as I could remember, I studied public relations and communications at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, with a renowned program in pr, but a horrible music program (at the time, anyway).

Long story short, I didn't sing for four years and felt ...different. I moved to Indianapolis in 1994 and quickly joined Second Presbyterian Church because of its tremendous music program. I was in heaven. Fellow members encouraged me to audition for the Indianapolis Opera Chorus and I went on to be one of the church's founding members of its paid small ensemble, the Beecher Singers.

By 2007, I was tired of singing in choirs. Solos were precious commodities judiciously distributed among a throng of other great singers. My lyric soprano tone and style was a dime a dozen and I couldn't figure out if it was best suited for classical or pop or what. One day, I literally had a panic attack when I realized: "I'm almost 40 and I have lost my voice! I have NO IDEA what MY true voice sounds like!"

After spending all my life trying to blend in with a group, I decided that it was time to find help and find my voice. This has not been an easy journey. I will spare you the drama, setbacks and disappointments along the way, for there is a happy ending. In fact, I wouldn't appreciate where I am nearly as much if it had come more easily.

The morals of this story are:
  • never, ever give up on your dreams, no matter how old or whatever excuse your ego might come up with 
  • be true to yourself and be relentless about it, no matter what others may think or believe 
  • stop caring what other people think. Period. Not that you can't or shouldn't take constructive criticism; we are not perfect, but quit letting it prevent you from (fill in the blank) 
  • give yourself permission to make room for yourself and your goals and ask friends and family for support. You will be amazed at the tidal wave of love that is waiting for you. 
This is what I have learned in my journey so far. I hope it's far from over. One of the most surprising and best rewards from it have been when several people have said to me: "You have inspired me to think about my dreams and to go for it!"

Marianne Williamson says that when you let your light shine, you automatically gives others the permission to do the same. I arrived at Yale without a hitch and had a fantastic first day. I look forward to sharing more insights and stories with you as I take this next step in my journey. Already, I'm so impressed by all the interesting diverse people with such unique talents bringing so many interesting stories to song. (21 people from 8 states and 4 countries!) Everyone is concerned about being critiqued, but I think we all know that this is the perfect, testing ground to learn. If we thought we were perfect, we wouldn't be here. The great thing about cabaret is that you just have to be yourself; you don't have to play a character, just let your light shine.

No comments: