Yesterday I went to hear a former student of mine sing a concert of all Edith Piaf songs–the music of my heart. I had a feeling that I would be in for a treat, but when Keiko opened her mouth I was literally floored: she has truly come into her own. This was a young singer showing up as her WHOLE SELF in ways that I always intuited were there, but which she very rarely showed while she was in our program. This was a fully-fledged artist in flight.
I just had coffee with her minutes ago, and how thrilling to talk to her and share, creative to creative, what the process was, how much self awareness, courage and respect for the “means whereby” was necessary to get to this place. We talked about fearlessness and daring, and embracing all of who we are to come up with an artistic offering that feels fully authentic. We talked of singing that speaks directly from the heart.
We also talked about how we sometimes, in studying a thing that we are passionate about, can get sucked in to narratives of “should” and “how to”, and lose sight of our complete selves. How we start ticking off boxes and chasing grades (and results), and somehow lose the thread of what matters deeply to us. It turns out that some time away from the halls of academe and the day-to-day of studying (primarily) classical music has allowed her to return, without any regrets or judgment, to the roots of who she is as a singer. I identify intensely with this myself; I feel that only quite recently, through discovering the intense connection between commercial and classical vocal styles, that I understand my voice in new and amazing ways. And it has made me a better teacher.
The practice is the path. The process is what matters, and to show up as our whole selves is the most compelling version we can offer. To have no regrets about the twists and turns of life (just as Edith Piaf sang so passionately of in her iconic anthem, Je ne regrette rien) and to honour the scars our experiences have left on us, this is the deepest truth and where we find our truest voice. So often, it is the voices of those who have lived and loved and suffered so deeply that are the ones of true power (Piaf was a tiny, powerful woman). The visionaries. The queens. The rulers. The WOMEN. No regrets. Life lived, full force. Showing up in technicolour.