Hats off to Leonard Cohen. His “Anthem” has been ringing in my head this week as I think about all the many ways that singing can help us to shine a light into our darkness. Endeavouring to sing well, with an open throat, an open heart and ease of breath is a journey into the deepest recesses of our selves. Sometimes the landscape there is awfully murky. It feels painful to have our flaws exposed, so we gloss them over or pretend they don’t exist. When we don’t feel like practicing, we have countless excuses at the ready (too tired! too hard! too many good shows on Netflix!), especially if our voice feels less than optimal “on the day”. Our sad little egos feel so ungratified then, the ugly sounds magnified in our heads.
There are so many rough paths, so many cracks in the sidewalk. We feel so flawed and we’d rather look away, or blame somebody else. The gift comes if we can give up the (useless) goal of perfection, because the flaws are their gifts if we can look at them as things to investigate and learn from, rather than loathing them for making us look bad. I prove it time and again with my students in the studio: if they simply allow themselves to look deeply at an issue they are struggling with and bit by bit, unravel the difficulty, the rewards are huge and much deeper than the fleeting superficial “win” of sounding great in the moment. So I’m reminding myself in my OWN practice to do as the late, great Leonard says and:
“Ring the bells that still can ring/Forget your perfect offering/There is a crack in everything/That’s how the light gets in.” (Leonard Cohen, “Anthem”)