The greatness of the stage

I love to sing. One of my proudest moments in life was getting the letter of acceptance to Florida State University School of Music. I got my start singing as a teenager at church. First in choir, then as a soloist every few months. I never took chorus in school because I liked being a band nerd and that took up all the periods I had free for music. 

I remember the first time I walked on stage to sing by myself. 

I was 16 or 17 when I was asked to sing a solo. I don't remember the song, but I'll never forget how it felt.

I had practiced the song so much that I didn't have to think about the words or the melody. The initial uncertainty of the words, phrases, and melody that seemed to be separate entities eventually coalesced into a unit that worked flawlessly together in my mind. 

Sitting in the front row through the beginning of the service, I tried not to let my nerves get to me. My stomach felt as if I was repeatedly going on a free fall ride at an amusement park. 

I've done a lot of performance in my life. Piano recitals, band concerts, small instrumental ensembles, solos as a flutist and singer, choirs and other singing ensembles, even choreographed shows.

No matter how well I knew what I was supposed to do, no matter how big the audience, I nearly always have a case of nerves before a performance.

One of my instructors at some point told me that feeling nervous means you're ready, and feeling scared means you're not.

I think whoever said that to me has a valid point. I have felt both before performances and the underlying causes were consistent. Nervousness in this context is anticipation of the performance. It's a desire to do well and hit the right note with your audience (pun intended).

Performing for others can be addictive. It leaves you with a high that lasts. It's no wonder considering the preparation that goes into getting ready. There is such pride and nostalgia in thinking about memorable performances. 

  • Getting to march onto the field at Doak Campbell Stadium with FSU's Marching Chiefs and seven other high school bands - about 800ish people playing instruments during the halftime show. It was loud and it was amazing and fun.
  • Walking off stage after singing a solo for the fourth and final time (in four different services) and realizing that my laryngitis held off until I finished the last note before rendering my voice completely useless.
  • Getting a superior rating at band competition, whether it's marching band, concert band, the solo or the ensemble performance.
  • Singing in front of the FSU faculty for my first jury and passing with flying colors. 
  • Being part of the CBC's Easter Sunrise service choir - I forget the year (it's been more than 10), but there is actual video evidence that I refuse to watch.

I've started to miss singing more often in the past couple of years, but I'm not in a place right now that I can add another thing to my schedule. So, I sing in the car - loud and proud.

A conversation with a friend got me thinking about why I don't choose to make time to sing. I realized that I fulfill any need for artistic expression through my writing. The rush of performance is filled in a less satisfying way through sharing my writing with whoever chooses to read it in this space.

One day singing will be a greater priority. I'll fit it in without stress and experience the magic of practice and performance again. Until then, I am lucky to have exceptional alternatives.

Thank you for coming to watch me here on my great (if little) stage.