Hand-thrown bowl by Leslie Fagan, 2019

We all do it. Why? Sometimes it can simply be blamed on ignorance or inexperience. We all misstep. But so frequently, we act in spite of knowing better. We choose the path we know all too well is not the most efficient, beneficial one, but rather the one that feels so painfully familiar. We work at cross purposes to ourselves and our goals.

I see this time and again in my students, but if I am being totally honest, I see it time and again in myself. If I KNOW that a practice or learning technique is helpful, if I KNOW that it always brings a better result, why don’t I do it every time? As one student recently reflected to me, it’s as though I don’t actually believe that I have the skills (which isn’t true, because I’ve done it before!) to use the method successfully, but perhaps even more to the point, I don’t deserve to do it well. Because I am not enough. Not good enough, not young enough, not talented enough (there’s a big one!), not technically gifted enough…just overall NOT ENOUGH. And it’s as though I want to prove it to myself by (knowingly!) repeating the useless method and achieving the undesired result. Then it’s clear to everyone (especially me!) how much I lack.

So today, gingerly, in the spirit of Brave New Year energy, I choose the Road Less Traveled (to quote F. Scott Peck’s famous title) and follow a practice I know leads to better awareness, more mindful and joyful singing, and–let’s find out!–more satisfying singing results. Let’s go boldly in the direction of our purpose, rather than at X purposes.