Heart of courage, Kimberly Barber (November 2021)

Here’s a shoutout to all the artists out there who daily demonstrate their courage. To quote the Cowardly Lion in part (thanks, Jack Haley):

“I could be kind of human
If I only had a heart…
I’d be tender, I’d be gentle
And awful sentimental
Regarding love and art
I’d be friends with the sparrows
And the boy that shoots the arrows
If I only had a heart…”

[for the full lyrics, go to https://www.allmusicals.com/lyrics/wizardofozthe/ifionlyhadaheart.htm]

Day after day, month after tortuous month, my colleagues and my students have shown up and shown their courageous singing hearts throughout this pandemic. We are all learning the tremendous power of the connection that happens when we are willing to be vulnerable and express that vulnerability wholeheartedly during this time of such uncertainty and distance from one another.

I notice increasingly how my students become willing to support one another in a quiet, strong way, allowing each of them in turn to take risks and expose themselves to possible failure. When we know that our friends and colleagues will hold us up regardless (I am reminded of a classic trust exercise we did in my opera class many years ago, where a student who was brave enough to confess their fear was told by a colleague: “in what universe would we ever drop you?”), we can summon the courage to do extraordinary things.

To sing with a truly open heart demands incredible courage. But with the support of our comrades in arms, finding this courage feels easier, allowing us soar to such heights of creativity and freedom from expectation. How beautiful is that? Your hearts are absolutely full-to-bursting with courage. Dare greatly, my friends.