Wed

26

Jun

2013

Learning to Listen

I can’t believe it’s the last week. The Taos Opera Institute is almost over!  Last week, our guest artist was Jacque Trussel, head of the voice department at the Conservatory of Music at SUNY Purchase. He began his first class with an illustration: John Gibney volunteered and was instructed to “do whatever you need to do to not fall over” while Jacque pushed strongly on his shoulders. Naturally, John let one foot step backward, and leaned forward with as much strength as necessary to match Jacque’s pressure. How long could he have held it there? How exhausting would that be over time? Then, Jacque reminded him that he never said he couldn’t move, but just not to fall over. He pushed again, and John began to simply walk backwards in an S pattern around the room as Jacque guided him. Sure, it’s a little scary to walk backwards, but John just needed to trust that his best interests were at heart, and to “go with the flow.” How much easier can things be if we could just trust those who love us and want the best for us instead of resisting? How much more could we grow?

 

Jacque continued with several other nuggets related to performing (quotes are paraphrased), which I found to be quite pertinent to my own life:

 

“Often times the director (or performer) tries to impose their own ego on the work, rather than examining the text and music to find the true meaning.”  [Usually resulting in a less effective performance.]

How many times do I try to make my own way, rather than really seeking what I was created to be and do?

 

“The audience believes that everything you do, you mean to do. Let’s not do things that don’t mean anything, or may mean something we don’t intend.” [mostly referring to gestures, or other effects of body language]

Am I really “walking the walk?” What might I be communicating to the world by my actions that I don’t intend?

 

“Do you live in concepts or awareness? Are you really listening? Be a good listener!”

Am I living by simply reacting to whatever comes my way, or do I allow space for self-awareness? How can I be a better listener?

 

“Act out of awareness with your partner, not out of your own concepts. Don’t resist. You’ll look bad.” [Meaning, if I think my scene partner is supposed to argue with what I say, but he instead agrees, and I keep on trying to prove my point, I’m the one that looks stupid.]

How might I be trying to push my own agenda, and probably failing, instead of “going with the flow,” and walking in God’s ways for me?

 

“You can learn about all these things (languages, technique, etc.) but if the core isn’t in line, it will all fall apart.”

I may have gained knowledge of the Bible, or relationship and communication techniques, but if I don’t keep coming back to the Lord for guidance, I will fall apart. Am I aligned with Him?

 

“Be a channel, or a conduit; find your inner child. Pay attention to the still small voice. Don’t edit ideas– the surest way to block creativity.”

Do I have the child-like faith? Am I listening to God? Might I be trying to “quench the Spirit?”

 

In my time of solitude and silence today I was asked to imagine God asking me “What are you doing here, Cassandra?” “Why have you come away to be with me?” “What is drawing you into deeper relationship with me?” At first I thought it might be to simply "be transformed.” But I had a feeling it would be more specific than that. I knew I had to wait. I knew I had to listen. And then that was it. I need to learn to listen! To wait, and to trust! The wheels started turning and then it all became clear. My teachers keep telling me to take more time. “Take more time on the high notes.” “Let them bloom.” “Don’t rush the short notes.” “Give them they’re full value!” “Let the audience hear the quality of your voice before you get to the long, held note.” They may be different words, but they’re essentially saying the same thing. “Just wait!”

 

Last week I worked on The Composer’s Aria from Ariadne auf Naxos. It was definitely a stretch for me, but the piece featured concepts I knew I really needed to work on, and my teachers had confidence in me. One of the toughest things in this aria is to simply stay grounded. The melody continues to rise, getting higher and bigger and the phrases, longer. If I look closely, however, the actual composer, Richard Strauss, does allow time to rest and regroup. There are beats or even full measures of rest here and there. Time to rest and breathe is actually written in the music!  The root of all my difficulties lived in not allowing myself to really rest and release in those moments. I was afraid that if I let go of trying to control my own breath, I would lose everything. I can only imagine Robert Mills’ (my coach last week, and from ASU! woot woot!) frustration every time I sped through those quarter note triplets. He can see beyond what I could fathom, but I couldn't yet.  “Take more time and enjoy it!”  The words read “Before the shining throne” for goodness sake! Might that be a clue? Then, on the night of my first performance in the church, I saw the beautiful stained glass cross right in front of me. It was as if God was using every tactic possible for me to understand this concept. Even still, I rushed right through the last page, basically skipped some rests, and my larynx probably ended up in my forehead (that’s a bad thing). “Let every note ring!” I would hear. Robert can listen objectively. He knows how it’s supposed to go. He has the correct rhythms right in front of him. He’s heard it a million times and has a pretty darn good idea of what works best. Why wouldn’t I trust him? My teacher last week, Brad Williams, knows how the high notes feel. He’s explained it to tons of singers who have gone on to succeed. Why wouldn’t I trust him?

 

My parents, pastors, and mentors have understood the heart issues I’ve struggled with. Candi could recognize what my heart really desired when I tried to control my dating life in college. She had been there. But still, I didn’t listen. I didn’t wait. I didn’t trust. My heart was hurt in the process, and my habits became deeply ingrained. I didn’t allow myself the time (or take the time God was giving me) to rest and regroup before looking out for the next guy. God probably looked at me with an expression that said, “How silly you are! Don’t you know how much I love you? I will provide in my perfect timing!”  I’m sure now that God was with me then, pursued me, and loved me in the midst of my frenetic controlling. And then I met Gilbert. Partially following old habits, and also knowing I was moving in two months, we still fell for each other pretty quickly.  But God knew we needed to learn to be patient and wait before fully investing. For the duration of our first year together, He placed us thousands of miles apart, each in our own communities of growth. It was during that time we began to learn how to communicate, how to wait expectantly, and how to trust both each other and the Lord.  That time certainly prepared us for this month we've spent apart too! 

 

Even once something is “settled” (we're happily married after all!), it’s easy to fall back into our old ways if we don’t take the time to become aware of what’s happening–to wait, and listen for God's promptings. It would be easy to keep rushing those short notes, pinching the high notes, letting go of my support, and getting caught up in my breath. The muscle memory goes deep, and seems almost impossible to change. But now I know I need to first take the time to listen. I’m listening to my lesson recordings. I’m seeing the patterns in the advice from all the teachers and coaches. I'm starting to understand what it is I need to change, and now I actually need to commit to doing it. That’s the next step. And that’s where I need to trust. I need to stop resisting. I need to let God lead me, and just follow Him.

 

Sure, we all may hear advice from people that we don’t agree with. Sure, they may have their own agenda, whether it’s conscious or not. Sure, they may be flat wrong. But is that the majority? Is there really nothing I could learn from them? Probably not. My wise teacher at home, Leroy Kromm, advised me before I came to this program to go with the idea that everyone wants to help me, and no one is out to hurt me. Take everything they say graciously, and then test it against what you know is true, and aligned with “Nature’s Way” of singing. What a concept! One of the best checks for determining an urging from the Holy Spirit is to test it against God's word. How much smoother would it be to stop resisting everything I hear, and to just take it all in. The real beauty and comfort resides in knowing that there is a greater Truth to base everything on. I don’t have to live in the confusion of trying to figure out everything for myself. Most people that have been in the business longer, or have followed God longer probably know better than I do. I can listen to them, and trust them, and then ultimately trust God to help me sort out His path for me.  Thank God! 

 

 

 

 

Thankfully, my performance on Saturday night (granted it was in a town square gazebo with motorcycles buzzing by) went much better.  I was able to keep my focus better (maybe becuase I had to concentrate even harder on doing so!), I released when I took breaths, and I took much more time on stretching passages.  It's still certainly a work in progress and has a long way to go, but I'm celebrating small victories here! 

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Wed

05

Jun

2013

Uncovering my desire and anxieties

Tomorrow night is our first performance.  We will be performing for the public, and singing the aria we each worked on this week.  This program includes 4 lessons a week, with both a teacher (focusing on vocal technique) and a coach (focusing on diction and interpretation), concentrating on a particular language, which rotates each week.  I've been working on my Italian aria this week, while others are delving into French, German, or English repertoire.  Then also, throughout this week, we have attended sessions with Alma Thomas, a performance psychologist who has worked with some of the best singers and athletes in the world.  She taught sessions on developing performance behaviors, understanding anxiety, and using imagery.  In the midst of all this, I have still been reading my book Invitation to Solitude and Silence, by Ruth Haley Barton, and attempting to incorporate that practice as well.  Needless to say, I have a lot swirling around in my head right now, and rather than ignore it, I will attempt to sort it all out.  If you make it through the end with me, there are some pretty pictures to look at as a reward.  :) 

 

Basically, I'm still afraid.  Thankfully, I think I am getting somewhere, but before I lay out what that is, I will recall my current fears. Most are centered on this performance tomorrow night, and I'm afraid I won't be able to incorporate all the feedback and ideas I've ingested this week. For this particular aria, I want to keep my consonants appropriately doubled, my [u] vowels dark enough, my [i] vowels truly [i] enough.  I want to I take my time to breathe when necessary, to I cut off the [ɔ] and [a] vowels before I succumb to a diphthong, to not rush the triplets or sixteenths, to get the grace notes on the right beats, to hold on to the G#’s and A's long enough, to remember my ornamentation, to remember where I'm at in the music, to portray the character of Rosina and her body language, and finally, to be a joyful, singing unicorn on my last high B.  Yes, I will be a unicorn.  That is my attempt at incorporating the imagery training.  But anyway, whew! How the heck am I supposed to remember and actually execute all that?  There are so many challenges to overcome that I’m afraid I won’t be able to do it all.  Maybe eventually, but certainly not by tomorrow!  I haven’t had enough time to practice and get used to all of these new things. I don’t feel equipped.

 

I suppose this is when I need to remember that I don’t have to be equipped, just willing.  Remember, self?? I just need to be willing to let God work through me. To be really honest, I think my biggest fear is that God just won’t show up (or maybe truly, that I will show up with all my doubts.  Please see Susie's wonderful comment below).  I’m afraid that I will be completely alone on that stage with only my fragile, tired voice.   However, what may be true is that behind that fear is actually desire.  Ultimately, I desire God’s presence to flow through me so badly.  I want others to know that it’s not just me – that it couldn’t be just me.  That is where I must remember that I will never actually be alone because God is omnipresent, and will never leave me or forsake me. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

 

I'm beginning to see that the trust I must have in the act of “performing” is very much a mirror for the intimacy God desires with us in silence and solitude.  Being alone on stage with nothing but the limits of my humanity, and just trusting God to do something is scary.  So is solitude.  What if God doesn’t show up? (Which can't be true!) What if I don’t feel anything? Or what if I feel like I'm supposed to do something totally out of my comfort zone?  Thankfully, He is ever patient, and still gives us many reminders to trust Him, and many instances where we can lean on Him.  They just go unnoticed. 

 

One of the key points in any of Alma’s processes is self-awareness.  In her session on anxiety, she details the symptoms of both mental and physical anxiety.  Now, I don’t consider myself to be a very anxious person, and in fact usually take most things pretty calmly.  However, the idea of performing is the one thing that can really stir me up.  As for mental symptoms, I’ve certainly experienced worry, feeling overwhelmed, not feeling in control, a lack of self confidence, and feelings of inadequacy.  Then, I was surprised to learn that many of the physical symptoms I usually experience before walking on stage are actually symptoms of physical anxiety: faster breathing, feeling cold, cotton mouth, and frequent urination.  It’s true!  I always have to pee before going on stage, and it’s pretty darn annoying.  Anyway, her main point was that anxiety is “an enemy within, not something which is outside you.” When we recognize these symptoms as completely natural, we can choose to be okay with them, and then change our perspective to consider managing them a challenge instead.  Only when the anxiety goes unchecked can it spiral out of control and get the better of us.  Basically, it is totally ok to feel anxious, and to some extent we should let it enhance our performance, but it is not okay to be unable to manage and control it.  But ah! Something else I have to be able to control and manage by myself?!  

 

Well, no worries folks, that’s where Jesus comes in.  It hit me that these anxious symptoms don't even need to be an enemy at all, but can instead be tangible reminders, drawing us back to Him.  In performing, we need a balanced level of anxiety–not too much to be debilitating (where Satan can enter in), but enough so that we’re not either totally zoned out, or over-confident in our self-sufficiency.  God knows that, and can let us experience just enough to say, “ah, yes, I know what this is,” and give it right back to God.  Ruth Haley Barton experienced similar worries as she was about to enter into a period of solitude and recalls, “As I allowed myself to become aware of my concerns, and feel the anxiety, I sensed God gently inviting me to consider this question: ‘Will you trust me to care for these things?’ She continues: 

 

 "Listening to our fears, rather than ignoring them can give us a great deal of insight into the conscious and unconscious resistance we have toward solitude and silence...The willingness to name our fear as we enter into solitude opens the way for God to reassure us with his presence.  It enables us – eventually – to peel back the fear revealing something even truer: our desire for God....Desire is what stirs underneath our fear – desire to be met by God, desire to be touched by God, in ways we can feel and know, desire to be given over to God in utter abandonment and trust."

 

I think this is where I’m at.  I’m starting to uncover my fear.  Simply by naming them one by one, by recognizing my anxieties, and ultimately realizing that what I fear most is that I won't trust God, I realize that my desire for Him is at the root.  Whatever “high” I seek in a great performance is not just because I love to sing.  Even the most esteemed praise or level of success will never fulfill me.  I seek a higher fulfillment because God put a greater desire in me.  Ultimately, that sense of accomplishment and joyful butterflies I get from performing is just another reflection of my desire for God.  Barton reminds me, “Before you were even aware of your desire for God, God desired you.  He created you with a desire for Him that groans and yearns in the very fiber of your being.  We love because God first loved us.”  

 

Alma Thomas suggests using imagery and positive self-talk to calm ourselves before performing, by repeating something as simple as “I can do this.”  Barton suggests a simple prayer entering into solitude to continually draw our focus to God such as “Here I am,” or “Come, Lord Jesus.” What if I could take in with every breath, “Holy Spirit, shine,” or, “Lord, I trust you” right before walking on stage, or even in the middle of an aria?  Could I reach the point where I truly trusted that He would come through?  Even just imagining His strength in me is so completely freeing, so completely reassuring, and simply exciting.  That’s the kind of anxiety I want: an anxiousness rooted in my expectation of how God would use me, and how He would be glorified through me.  If I can learn to trust Him in such a small thing as singing a song, how much more would He entrust to me? What sort of transformative work could He do in my times of silence with Him?  I can’t wait to find out.  

 

In other news, I took the opportunity to capture some of the beauties surrounding my usual reflective spot in the photos below.  Tonight, we had a thunderstorm and the power went out for a little while, but eventually, I went to dinner at a little cantina nearby called The Stray Dog with several other students, and enjoyed some giggling hot tub time with some of the girls this afterward.  Tomorrow starts with a hike, followed by a class on dresses and makeup, and a masterclass with Alma Thomas.  Then, we get ready to go, and have our first performance!  I’ll let you know how it goes soon! 

 

 

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Mon

03

Jun

2013

Time to Push the Envelope

I had my first voice lesson with Mary Jane Johnson, and let me tell you, she is a dear. Her big eyes, her big voice, her big and sweet Texan accent, and her big heart just overflow with a love for the art form and those of us trying to understand it.  She cares about who I am, where I came from, and truly wants to see me succeed.  She was honest about my shortcomings, but encouraging about where I will go, even in just this short time.  I got some great pointers that I’m excited to put into practice this week.  I decided to head down to the little nature trail, sit on a bench by the rushing creek, close my eyes, and let it all sink in.  (This, I also hope to make a regular habit after each of my lessons this week!) 

 

At our orientation on Sunday, Linda Poetschke, one of the directors, shared a quote from a local Taos publication. “The Taos Ski Valley is known for the alpine skiing style and emphasizes 'pushing out of your personal envelope.'  It is about overcoming your fears through new adventures.  Pushing oneself to the limits is still the key to exhilaration, especially when one is successful!”  I experienced a bit of this recently skiing in Tahoe.  My expert skier friend Jeff was patiently working with me, and trying to get me to be ok actually facing straight downhill, and to trust myself to turn when I needed to, managing my speed.  I caught glimpses of what this exhilirating next level of skiing could be like, and I really wanted to get there, but my fear just kept holding me back.  Perhaps I also just needed some more practice to get comfortable with the muscle memory, but still, my fear and lack of trust was a major hinderance.  

 

The same goes in singing.  Just in my lesson today, I gave up on high notes, I gave up on fast notes, I retreated to a style of breathing that I was “comfortable” with, and had trouble trusting enough to give it my all.  This led me to ponder two things:  

  1.  Why am I so afraid?
  2.  Why do I so often default to just “winging it” instead of actually trying?

 

1. Well, with skiing, my reasons for being afraid are a little more concrete.  I could fall and break my face, I could become paralyzed, I could hurt someone else, and well let’s face it, I could die.  So maybe this is a bad example.  Although, if I died, then I would just get to be with Jesus, and I imagine that will be pretty awesome. 

 

Then there’s the idea of giving up my life completely to the Lord, another concept I’m apparently afraid of.  I’m afraid because I don’t know what to expect.  I’m afraid He’ll make me do something I don’t want to do, or don’t feel equipped to do.  But that’s just the thing.  God doesn’t need us to be equipped, He just needs us to be willing–willing to be open to the most thrilling, exciting life, full of love and peace. And He loves me more than I could ever comprehend.  I should probably stop being afraid of that.  

 

So why the heck am I so afraid of singing?  Let's see. As far as putting myself out there and auditioning, I suppose I'm afraid of rejection.  With high notes, I’m afraid of cracking or being out of tune.  With coloratura passages, I’m afraid of missing a note or not making it through the phrase, so I just give up and let go of my breath before I even try.  But all of those fears, in comparison, are pretty lame! Singing will not kill me, it most likely won’t even hurt me, and it will probably even be quite beneficial.  Who cares if I get rejected?  If I wasn’t right for the part, then the part probably wasn’t right for me at the time either, and how is that even a reflection on me personally?  And finally, high notes are just awesome.  When they’re in the right place, they feel awesome and they sound awesome.  Why wouldn’t I want to do whatever necessary to achieve that??

 

2. I have a bad history of “winging it.”  I let my self just scrape on by because I've gotten away with it.  But where did this come from? Is it because in school there is such pressure to just get good grades, and not enough on the actual learning process?  If I can manage to exercise my short term memory and cram 300 vocab words in my head the night before a test and still end up with an A-, why bother actually learning them a few a day?  If I can sight read music decently, why bother learning something before a rehearsal where we’ll drill it anyway? 

 

Because I’ll end up stuck where I am now.  At a crossroad. I can either keep doing what I’ve been doing, doing just enough to get a couple degrees under my belt, but never knowing what could actually happen if I really applied myself, and sought God’s best for me, or I can start trying a little harder, with a litlte more focus.  What if I had actually taken time to enjoy that research paper? What could I have learned, or contributed? What if I had read the whole opera before showing up to the first rehearsal?  How much more engaged could I have been throughout the rehearsal process?

 

I’m realizing now, that all these things aren’t even really an issue of discipline, but rather the concept of being in the moment, or living in the present. (Funny, because God revealed this to me yesterday afternoon, and then confirmed it in our talk last night with an Olympic psychologist.  She talked about the same thing!)  For so long I prided myself in being able to pull things off at the last minute, and still manage to fit in “fun” things.  But so often, these were really just distractions from the incredible opportunities God was giving me.  I mean, who really needs to peruse 24 Cats That Are So Single Right Now? Don’t click it!  Stay in the moment!  At least wait til you’re done reading this. I’m almost done. (But if you do, I think #9 is my favorite.)  These silly pictures may make me smile, and marvel at their silliness for a moment, but that’s just it.  A moment of happiness or so-called “joy” is fleeting.  It’s not the kind of Joy that prevails.  Not the kind of Joy when I really nail something, and am proud of it, because I know God got me there.  Not the kind of Joy I feel when I know I am doing exactly what God intended me to do, and am right where He wants me. 

 

So here’s to a new chapter of excitement, to "pushing the envelope," to trusting that God has my best interests at heart, and to seeking true accomplishment.  Not just for the sake of accomplishing discipline, and checking off all the healthy things I intended to do today, but for the glory of God, and learning what He wants me to learn.  How much more motivating and exciting is that than browsing the internet, backing off the high note, and winging it?  

 

Today, I am excited to try this new breathing idea, a strange squeaking exercise to work on my range, and nail that high B at the end of “Una voce poco fa.”  Let's do this.  

 

2 Comments

Sun

02

Jun

2013

Be still: Getting settled in Taos

Welp, here I am in Taos, New Mexico.  Kind of random, right?  God provided (with the help of many of you! Thank you!!) and brought be right here right at this time.  I'm supposed to develop my skills as a young opera singer, and get ready for upcoming "bigger" auditions. But is that all?  Is God calling me to something more? 

 

My devotional this morning was based on Psalm 46:10, "Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth!" This got me thinking.  Here I am, almost 26, a year out of grad school, and I still cannot seem to allow myself to settle and be still enough to allow God to do his good work in me.  I know He has more for me, but I have been so consumed with other distractions, that I just haven't let Him in.  The author of the book I am reading, (which I will probably reference often in the upcoming blog posts) Invitation to Silence and Solitude, by Ruth Haley Barton, was advised, "You are like a jar of river water all shaken up.  What you need is to sit still long enough that the sediment can settle and the water can become clear."  Am I that shaken jar of river water?  Is that why I am here?  Is that why God called me away from my husband, my close-knit Christian community, my family, my many comforts of "home," to be surrounded by 30 strangers I have never met?  Is this the radical thing I needed to actually "get away" and meet Him face to face?  Perhaps this whole singing thing is just the means, so I may be forced to be truly vulnerable with my human limitations, to learn to only worry about the opinions of God, and ultimately to completely trust God to do something internal, in both my heart, and my voice. (See! There's a singing/God metaphor! I need to come up with a better buzzword for them.) So once again, these little reminders, that can come from anywhere–teachers, coaches, books I'm reading, circumstances–all are little glimmers of hope, drawing me back to Him. 

 

Now to TOI (Taos Opera Institute).  I showed up not really knowing what to expect.  I could imagine some things based on the Tyrolean Opera Program I did in Austria five years ago, but then I didn't even really know what opera really was, how to say "je veux" in French, or that I could actually learn to love dancing and figure out where my extremities ended. Hopefully I've come along way since then!  So where do I go from here? 

 

First, I'm realizing that I have had to be much more dependent than I'm used to.  It was encouraged that we drive here to have a car, since many things (including groceries and performances) are several miles away.  However, that just wasn't in the cards for me.  I depended on another student to bring a box of stuff (yoga mat, fitness ball, keyboard, some food) from Arizona that I couldn't fit in my suitcase, and I graciously accepted a ride from another student from the Albuquerque airport to the Taos Ski Valley three hours away.  Turns out, Andrea, who picked me up, got married a day after me and Gilbert!  How's that for a little reminder that I won't be alone as I thought I would be? 

 

But then I got to my room, and here's where I got off to a bit of a rough start.  I learned that in my condo (which I share with another girl), we don't actually have a separate living/eating space, but actually a murphy bed that converts to a table, that can be one of our "own rooms." Our fridge is broken, the dinky light is out in my bathroom, the kitchen sink is leaking, and the awesome little roll up keyboard I ordered from Amazon doesn't work. I have no idea who to ask to take me to the town 35 minutes away to get some groceries to fill my broken fridge.  Oh, and all the other condos I got to peek at are freaking amazing and gorgeous.  The customer service representive in me was quickly embittered, bringing me to tears.  Eventually, I managed to pull the fridge out from the wall, fish out the cord and plug it in.  Apparently the fridge technically works, but just smells a little funky and makes a loud grumbling noise at all hours.  So far I've just been pretending it's the sound of waves crashing gently to lull me to sleep instead.  Thankfully my neighbor took me to get groceries, stocked up on some necessities, and of course forgot some key things.  (How am I supposed to make a salad without any specialty cheeses?  Gah, curse of the foodie...) I was ready to make my case as graciouly as possible for a room change, but the site admin was already gone.  I took some time to try to settle down, and to ask God what He could possibly be teaching with all of this, and why it seemed I got the majorly short end of this stick when I paid just as much as everyone else.  

 

That is when I realized I am being stripped of all the things I pride myself in–being a homemaker and making my surroundings look nice, being the "hostess" and having the means to take care of everyone else, being "the one with the car" able to come and go as I please.  All these things are basically elements that I have been able to control in the past, and have joyfully been able to serve others by sharing what I have on my own terms.  Instead, I'm using a plate as a cutting board, I have to invite myself in to another student's beautiful condo with plush couches, vaulted ceilings, and grand table, have to reach out and ask for a ride if I want to go somewhere, and ask to use my roommate's keyboard if I want to practice. I suppose this is called being humbled. Darnit! I guess I probably am not supposed to get a better room, and God knew this would happen.  So once again, I am reminded that I am not here just to sing, but to be transformed by God.  And first, in that process, learning to just "be still," embrace my circumstances, and know that He is at work. 

 

Finally, I'm probably making this sound way worse than it actually is, so here are some pictures to show what it's really like.  It's actually really beautiful, the weather is just perfect, and everyone has been super nice.  Praise the Lord for that!   Tonight we have a welcome dinner and orientation, and we start tomorrow at 8:00am with Zumba class!  More on that later...

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Sun

02

Jun

2013

"Let music be a passageway to Your heart"

I started warming up this morning, and found it difficult to get a good breath because my stomach was grumbling.  It really makes singing difficult!  So, I grabbed a banana and some peanut butter for a quick snack.  Because it’s almost impossible for me to sit down to eat a snack by myself without something else to occupy my mind, I started flipping through the pages of my journal.  (Better than Netflix, right?  Progress!) 

 

“Let making music be a passageway to Your heart, Jesus.”  I prayed this prayer on December 11, 2011, in my purple leather journal, that Gilbert had given me.  I read that page again today and was amazed, because although there had been glimpses of God’s faithfulness to my petition that year, they are so much more real to me today.  I am beginning to see how He is answering that very prayer.  This is not the kind of prayer that God can answer in a moment, or even a day.  It is an ongoing process that will probably continue for the rest of my life.  In almost every voice lesson, there seems to be some small concept I am trying to apply that is a direct metaphor for a life unabandoned for God.  Perhaps the most obvious one is to simply let go.  

 

And so, I have finally decided to document this journey of letting go.  I may love to sing, but I believe he put that desire in me first and foremost to draw me closer to Him, and hopefully, by sharing my journey, I may encourage others to do the same. In this blog, I hope to share all the amazing parallels I encounter between growing and developing my voice, and growing and developing my relationship with God, within the context of my day to day.  Here we go! 

 

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