Building a Dream and Taking advice from Sharon Osbourne, David Hasselhoff, Piers Morgan

Still got the image of that wretched piano player leaning against the wall looking cool, saying “don’t get angry with me, I took the trouble to come and apologize.   I’m only human”.   GRRRR.   Well, I’m going ahead today with checking out home recording options, but I still want a piano player, just one who keeps his / her word.   Someone who’s having fun with it.

Anyway.   Time management not as effective as it could be.   Every day I do vocal exercises and sing along, blog, Searchwarp and friends, whatever work I can, so that’s in place.   Also sometimes eat, sleep, exercise and watch educational TV.   But script, piano, crime novel and bio are languishing.   Plus have started e-book which is potential best seller, and I need to get it finished.   It’s all a bit of a mess in my head.   Frankly.

I know what’s needed.   Long-term, interim and daily plans.   Have to spend time figuring out plan.   Damn, time already at a – what’s that word when there’s not enough of something?  Premium.   Calm, don’t need to conquer Rome in a day.   Right, so there are two sections: music and writing.

1)    exercises and vocal development;
2)    sing along with great vocalists;
3)    pick 30 songs from 100 that I’ve written music written out for in my key and work on them;
4)    already have rudimentary jazz piano, so need to build on it, plus practice classical more;
5)    watch movies, dvd’s etc. of musicians;
6)    check out home recording equipment;
7)    read about musicians and history of early jazz and jazz standards (library);
8)    find out about stage dancing (for fun, for stage presence etc.);
9)    put notice in library “looking for piano player”;
10)  make broader appeal for help?  (use blog, contact radio stations round world, journalists).

CRASH!   What, what?   What if they think I can’t sing?   What if they laugh at me?

Ackshally, I have an answer for that.   On America’s Got Talent semi-final the other night, some country singer made it through, and all three judges – yes, even Piers Morgan – said it wasn’t because he sang fantastically, because he didn’t, but he still deserved to win.   Sharon Osbourne said a lot of the greats didn’t/don’t have great voices.   It’s not about how good you are, it’s how much you want it, how much your heart is in it.   So how much do I want it?

More than I have words for.   So, I’ll make out a plan for this week for music, and a broad outline for writing.   And now I’m getting on with the action part of my day.   Thanks, Sharon Ozzy Osbourne, Piers Morgan, David Hasselhoff.   Obviously, I want my voice to be as good as it can be, and I’m always going to revere truly stunning voices, but whatever I’ve got, it has to be enough.

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America’s Got Talent – Big Dreams and Small Steps

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Last night I watched a re-run of America’s Got Talent.  Barbara Padilla sang and of course blew the judges away.  Me too.  She’s from Mexico, her mother used to play opera all the time and she sang along.   She didn’t become a professional though, it’s hard to understand why, her voice is phenomenal.

She was light years ahead of everybody else, but she didn’t win, because not enough people like opera.  It’s a weird competition.  I think the judges recognize talent, but talent doesn’t dictate the winner.  It’s the ultimate illustration of the real value of being worshipped by millions or being cast aside.  It doesn’t say anything about talent at all.   Doesn’t mean you’re really good – or bad – at what you do. It says the people who vote don’t put talent at the top of their list.

I wonder how many people there are whose creativity never sees the light of day because they believe they aren’t talented enough to win huge competitions, so they don’t start with the small steps.  They just put it all aside.   Watching Barbara, at one point I thought what the hell am I doing?  I can’t sing like that.  I felt myself get smaller and smaller, until I had convinced myself that I couldn’t sing at all.

Then I remembered.  I’m not in competition with anybody.  So I sang something out loud, and felt the pleasure of it, and that was enough.  I’m not Barbara Padillo, and of course I wish I could express through such powerful talent.  Oh my, it must be glorious.  Well, I can give up because I’m not the best, or I can accept what I am and do the best I can with it from now on. It inspired me to be more focused.

Big dreams, big competitions, are important, but you have to be careful about letting the dream  get so huge that there’s too much of a gap between them and the reality of what you’re able to do, because it’s the action that makes it happen.   It’s easy to become discouraged if you can’t do small steps.   If you stay in your head, and get too disconnected from doing the thing you love, the dream gets bigger and more distorted and you get smaller and more disabled.

So, dreams are great, performances are wonderful, but so is practicing, and the small steps.  A balance between the two makes the whole package.  You start with the second and build up to the first.  I’d love to see a talent show that’s about the build-up, the practicing, blood sweat and tears, facing fear, needing support.

I’m going to call that teacher I had once, to at least find out what she charges.  I’m in a different place, more receptive perhaps, less defensive.  Maybe this time I can access what she has to offer.  Still can’t afford it, but I might as well ask the question.  Surely some kind of solution will open up.

Right.  Time to sing.  Whoopee.

On the Road Again

When I started singing again – 7 years ago? – after a million zillion years of not doing it I was going to go for it – I learned over a hundred jazz standards, wrote all the music out, learned basic (very basic!) jazz piano.  Got some good feedback from some people, but every time I ventured out to sing for somebody I didn’t know, fear utterly paralyzed me and I couldn’t sing.

It was weird, I went to a nightclub on open-mic night, walked in, looked at the stage – and got diarrhea.   To cut a long story short, I couldn’t get through the fear.  Plus I was trying to recover from being plastered all over the metaphorical pavement, trying to pick up all my body and soul bits and piece them together.   It was too much.   I wasn’t ready.

I backed away.   Needed some distance.   I didn’t completely stop, I’ve been singing at home, and the strange thing is my singing has improved.  I’m more confident in myself; I’m not so scared any more.   I’m more integrated, not splattered all over the place.   It’s taken time, that’s all.

Now I just got a possibly sustainable online job, which won’t make me a fortune, but it’ll bring in enough to pay my way, buy proper food and pay for lessons again.  Fix my car, buy music, because I hardly have anything.  You have to listen a lot if you want to sing, watch videos, listen to people live.  All of that costs money.  People never think about what’s involved in making your dream come true.  The truth is you have to experience the world of it with all your senses.  The more you do, the more awakens in you.

So here I am on the singing road again.  The road less travelled.   Exactly, it’s less travelled by me than I like.  I need and want to travel it a whole lot more.  So, I want to say thanks to that beautiful young woman on America’s Got Talent.  She inspired me, re-affirmed for me that there’s a time to back away, and there’s a time to re-engage.

America’s Got Talent and American Idol

I watched some of the New York America’s Got Talent auditions last night, and also some part of the Idols semi-finals.  I usually get impatient with these competitive reality shows because I can’t stand the pompous arrogance of the judges and how they enjoy tearing somebody apart.  I think it’s a very weird aspect of western culture that audiences crave this kind of persecution.

In Roman times people watched men being thrown to the lions and ripped apart; during the French Revolution and after the crowds gathered to watch heads being chopped off; in the Dark Ages they amassed to watch people being burned at the stake.

So now it’s just emotional brutalization that draws the crowds.  The most twisted part of it is that exceptionally talented, brave artists expose themselves to this kind of emotional flaying, believing that it’s a passage to seeing their dreams come true.  Last night in America’s Got Talent a young woman I suppose in her late twenties got up on stage.  Her story was that she auditioned for Idols ten years ago and didn’t make it. It so destroyed her that she gave up.  Or she tried, but some part of her couldn’t.  So she began singing again.

And there she was, seeing if she could make her dream come true one more time.  You didn’t have a clue looking at her that she was any good at all.  She didn’t have any real confidence – in fact she was terrified; she seemed almost mousy, apologetic.  You could see a yearning in her, but it didn’t look as if it had any real power.  Nevertheless, she’d overcome all that to at least make it to the stage.  The amount of courage that takes is awesome.

Then she started singing.  She brought the house down.  Unbelieveable.   It was very moving and the most soulful, musically satisfying performance I’ve seen in a long time.  She poured it out, and held nothing back at all.  There was a kind of raw but polished vitality to her singing that thrilled.   Of course she made it through to the next round, and got great strokes from audience and judges, as she deserved.   The woman who walked off stage was a very different person to the one who walked on.  She had found her power and exercised it brilliantly.

I sat thinking about her for ages, and what it means to be successful.  It’s quite incredible to me that someone of her musical caliber could have given up because she didn’t win Idols ten years ago.    She’s a naturally shining star and has a stunning voice, but she pinned all her hopes on one show, and when she didn’t win she thought her career didn’t have a chance.   I wonder what’ll happen if she doesn’t win this time round.  Will she give up again?   It was clear last night that she believed this is her last chance.

Her last chance!  With a voice and a soul like that!

These reality shows of emotional bloodlust and spectacle where millions of viewers get to vote who wins and who doesn’t; where those who aren’t “good enough” have their souls and hearts ripped apart; where performers get a night of glory that most of them will probably never experience again, have really distorted what a singing career is about – and what success is if you really have talent.

It’s about letting your heart out through your music, giving expression to your soul.  It’s not about money and it’s not about conquering the world.  Those things happen in consequence, for better or for worse, but it seems these reality shows have made people forget that if you’ve got it, nothing can stop it, and there’s never just one chance.  There are countless chances, they keep being generated, so long as you keep going and allowing yourself to be open to them.

In fact that’s true no matter how talented you are, as it is in any walk of life.  We never just have one chance.  Wasn’t it Einstein who said he didn’t reckon he was that much smarter than anybody else, he just never gave up?  Good on you, Einstein.  The wonderful thing with the woman who stole everybody’s hearts was that she did try to give up – I guess she didn’t have anybody to tell her Idols didn’t matter, that nothing could change how brilliant she was.  She gave up and everybody around her did, but her soul, her heart and her voice didn’t.  They found a way to re-emerge.

These shows are entertaining, thrilling, exciting, inspiring and make great careers for some, but it’s a bit unreal, and quite fleeting, because no sooner has somebody won than the next round is already happening, and the public has forgotten them.   And what if you’re brilliant, but that night is your off-night?  That’s it?

Worst of all, I think Idols and America’s Got Talent make people think that their ability to make it in the world is in somebody else’s hands.  It isn’t.  It’s in their hands.  Great singers become great because they sing all the time, they exercise their talent, they work, they don’t give up when people reject them.  They don’t let somebody else be the authority.   It’s the journey that keeps them there, not some illusion of a destination that by definition is fleeting anyway.

The woman, whose name I can’t remember, didn’t look to me as if she was getting her fulfillment out of people saying she could sing, or from three judges.  Not really.  She was getting it out of something much, much grander than that.  She was flying, vocally.   What, I wonder, stops her from getting gigs and just singing?

Is there anybody who wouldn’t pay to listen to her?  I seriously doubt it.  She was unutterably beautiful, and I have no doubt at all that if she let herself take the small steps, she’d make it all the way to the top, she’d have the world at her feet.  And whether she did or not wouldn’t matter, because she’d be enjoying her journey.   She doesn’t need to win America’s Got Talent or Idols.  I so hope she realizes that.