Captured from Jana’s wall, October 2021

We are nearing the end of term and my students are getting into performance mode. This is the phase where I am reminding them to Show Up: where I ask them to truly come as themselves, open their artist hearts and let us hear the message they wish to deliver. How terrifying this is! What if it’s too much? Not enough? What if every note isn’t perfect, every technical element not executed precisely? Too often in the hustle to “prove” ourselves, we forget that what it’s all about is the deepest human connection.

I have to say that I am greatly blessed to have in my studio (and in my opera class) a group of students who are incredibly brave, willing to take the risk of exposure in the service of their craft. Again and again I marvel at their courage and am delighted by the results this risk-taking produces. In our most recent performance class, every single one of the students did things that scared them in the first instance, and delighted all of us in the end. They chose honesty over artifice, storytelling over window-dressing, and truly SHOWING UP in the moment just as they were, to sing as best they could. Rather than focusing on what could be (in their imagined perfection) they decided instead to simply do, to create, to live in the moment of their performances and really share their whole selves with us. This is always intensely moving. It’s so vulnerable, and so needed.

I was reminded by these individual acts of bravery that believing we are good enough, worthy enough in the moment is what it really means to show up. And in so doing, we give the gift to others of our open heart, willing to communicate what the music and poetry means to us, and share of ourselves wholly, without fear of retribution. This kind of openness is disarming. It reminds each of us how very fragile we all are, and how desperately we need to connect to one another to feel strong again. When artists show up in this way, they give us all permission to feel things, and remind us of our collective humanity.