Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Gremlins! Buh-Bye

I read the following post out loud to my teacher, before publishing it here:

Gremlins. Ah those sneaky little things. They get in and sabotage things. Only, they are ... me.

I sang in a recital on Saturday. And as usual, I did not perform as well as I wanted. Why? I kept asking myself. What was different on that day? And slowly I came to realize that I had sabotaged myself. It started with my general feeling of, “Everyone else is so good... why do they let me sing here.” The little gremlin on my shoulder poked me in the side of the neck and taunted in a deep gravelly voice, “YOU’RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH!!”

Then the rehearsal, where I sang Ombra mai fu, and the call the next day. “NOT GOOD ENOUGH!” taunted the gremlin. And not being listed on the program in the first place. “SEE!” croaked the goblin. “NOT GOOD ENOUGH!” My rational side whispered, “But they do let me sing. I’m still singing. I AM good enough.” “NO YOU’RE NOT!” snapped the gremlin as he poked me in the neck.

During the week I saw my vocal coach. Corrected some rhythmic and phonetic problems. I sounded pretty good. I recorded it and practiced with it.

Then, the day of the recital. Packed house full of “important” people, ie, potential donors. One singer after another gets up and knocks ‘em dead with a fabulous performance. Then that damn gremlin showed up. “WHO ARE YOU KIDDING? YOU’RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH!” poke poke poke. As I waited for my turn, I kept telling myself that that shaky feeling wasn’t fear, it was adrenaline. Well. That damn gremlin managed to knock down my self-esteem and I walked out onto stage nervous. “YOU’RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH! NOT GOOD ENOUGH! YOU’RE GOING TO CRACK! YOU’LL SEE!” I did my best at the time, but it definitely wasn’t my best. It was acceptable. And I didn’t crack because I safely went under the “flip” for the low notes, rather than trying to keep the air on top. I smiled and all, but I was miserable. Then afterwards, the comments from people... oy vey. How we choose to interpret things.

“You sounded a little nervous when you started... but you got better...”

“You’ve come a long way. And you LOOKED adorable.”

And my favorite, the condescending & sympathetic, “Was this your first time singing with the Opera Project?”

So I have a new goal. That pokey gremlin has been warned: Gremlins who poke will lose their fingers.
(thanks to a twitter friend for that gem!) That gremlin has no role in my life. I have sent him floating off in a helium balloon. I know what I can do and how to do it.

I also have been able to look at this not as “yet another humiliation because YOU’RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH,” into, you’re ok, you can do better, every performance is a learning experience. I did watch the video and realize I wasn’t as bad as I thought. It was an acceptable performance. But I don’t want to deliver acceptable. I want to deliver, spectacular. I’m hoping to be able to sing Ombra mai fu at the next recital. No more of this “You’re not good enough,” no more poking. I’m going to get out there and show ‘em what I can do. Because you know what? I AM GOOD ENOUGH!!!


My teacher assured me that yes, I am indeed good enough. She thinks I have the potential to be really really great. I can produce some really beautiful sounds when warming up with scales and so on. All I need to do is consistently apply that to singing arias. I just have to practice staying on top of the air at all times. She also talked about comparing myself to others - which as even I know, is a no-no. I mean, I know how I'd respond to someone who read that gremlin essay to me.

So the next recital is June 11. She doesn't think I'll be ready for Ombra mai fu so we'll figure out what else I can sing. I'm sure we'll come up with something.

So anyway, this is what I wore for the recital:

And this is how I dressed when I got home that evening, to comfort myself in my gremlin-induced pity-party:

And yes, they are footie pajamas and the skulls do glow in the dark. Thank you, Target boys' department.

1 comment:

Raisa said...

Susan, it's a very well written post. I have recently come to the conclusion that many things, both good and bad ones, that happen to us are actually pre-programmed in our brain and once the brain starts developing this or that "image", things start happening. Thus, you are absolutely right: tell yourself - yes, I can!!! and send those gremlins to where they belong!