Friday, June 30, 2017

Green

This hue begets a host of symbolic impressions, depending on the context… Green can represent money, envy, growth, freshness, or youth. It also stands for nature/the environment, and brings to mind chlorophyll-producing plants and algae. In a performance context, the term “green” may describe a person lacking in experience or polish. Kermit the Frog famously remarked “It ain’t easy being green…” which may well be the less-than-ready, immature performer’s mournful reality.

How to avoid being viewed as “green” (in the inexperienced sense) by one’s peers? Pursue study and practice, of course, and always show up fully prepared for each performance. I find that even experienced performers sometimes find themselves feeling a sense of under-readiness when returning to literature they have not performed in several years, or returning to a performance schedule after a long hiatus. In those times, it is imperative to do the necessary preparation “in spades” months before the concert date.

I once heard a wise counselor remark that green is also a color of growth… reminiscent of the pale, almost yellow shade characteristic of early springtime leaves. I have noticed that master performers are always seeking growth: growth in technique, growth in repertoire, growth in performance authenticity, growth in stage presence and poise, growth in confidence, growth in artistic awareness… Without continuous growth, careers and voices stagnate. If one is to cultivate an enduring career with stamina and strength to see one through during the tough times, growth that can best be described as “sacrificial” becomes necessary. By sacrificial, I mean sacrificing time- and energy-wasting activities as well as toxic situations for the good of one’s mental and emotional health. I also mean giving up certain things like dairy, caffeine, alcohol, junk food, and loud party atmospheres to pursue a lifestyle that will better care for one’s vocal health. Singers often have healthier hearts and lungs than their peers due to the consistent, strenuous exercise that high-level singing requires, but this of course demands discipline and daily commitment. We also have less time for TV and internet surfing than many, having to carve out time for dedicated practice, physical exercise, meditation, mental practice, performance preparation and other career-oriented disciplines. Pursuing the life of a professional singer means making tough choices and seeing them through every single day.

In an effort to remain “green” with continuous growth, I am endeavoring to attend more live concerts in the coming year than ever before. How wonderful would it be if more artists replaced television with attending high quality live performances?! Perhaps we would see our cognitive abilities enhanced rather than deadened, our mental sharpness become keener, and our motivation boosted by taking in more inspiring performances by those around us also seeking continuous artistic growth. Long live the “green” artists who habitually seek consistent growth as a lifestyle choice—it is these whom I aspire to emulate until the day I am forced to lay down my conductor’s baton, my microphone, my composer’s pen, and my choir folder at my final bow…