“Wow, that was really… wow,” gasped Aaron as they left the stage together. It seemed like just a few moments ago she had opened the email from her composer friend, who just a few months before that had been one of those “imposing hipster dudes”, introducing them and kicking off this very performance opportunity. But, here they were after a dense and challenging forty minute piece. Our diva had been the vocal soloist.
This felt like she had “skipped a level.” She supposed that it was very different from Flora or Frasquita which were the last two entries on her resume. This piece had challenged her, as a musician, in ways that she had never encountered before. She learned new ways to count rhythms. There were instances when she had to approach vowels in entirely different ways than she had before. She even moved her body differently on stage than she had ever perceived herself to do. It was thrilling.
The Day 27 challenge on your journey is to enchant your audience.
She jostled herself into her seat on the train the next morning. Letting her body settle into its space, she felt that wave of “performance hangover” start to make her eyelids heavy. The train began to chug along out of the station and underground for a while before emerging into a marshy field heading out of the city. The sunlight warmed her face as she stared out the window just pondering how she felt in this moment. She didn’t feel like she had made some life-altering epiphany. But, she felt different. Maybe just a little different.
Her thoughts turned to all of the new things that had shown up in her life in the last year. What an exquisite adventure, she thought. Sleepily laughing to herself, it felt a bit storybook like… “There once was a diva who knew that there could be more. She went off in search of it. She didn’t know at the beginning that there were snares and traps waiting around each random corner. But, she didn’t let those setbacks stop her from meeting incredible people, loving her family, and following her dream. She learned lots of tiny lessons along the way. Some felt like windfalls and others felt downfalls.”
Is the story over?
The story drifted away right there. Was it over? Was that it? She couldn’t bear the thought that this might be the denouement of her singing adventure. “I still have so much to learn!” she faltered. She suggested to herself that this was but a chapter of a much larger story. It comforted her a bit to know that every so often a new challenge or adventure would pry her from her comfort zone and drop her in a new space. “How very Wizard of Oz like,” she grinned remembering her own very ruby red slippers from last night’s performance.
Our diva didn’t feel like she had mastered the problem of living without artistic integrity. However, she felt like she had developed new strategies for uncovering who she wanted to be as an artist, how she wanted to move through this musical world, and who she wanted to surround herself with while on the path. That felt like a major victory in itself.
Performance is a communal experience
She thought back to the experience she had the night before while performing. Transfixed, the audience sat there with eyes unmoving from the stage space. Gone was the incessant coughing and audience noise of other spaces. This was a moment for which our diva had been searching her whole life. The communal sense of the performers music-making and the audience’s intentional listening created a perceptible, almost visible, sense of energy in the venue. At times her thoughts had been racing trying to keep up with all of the informational overload she was experiencing. There were sights and sounds that spurred connections and deeper thoughts than she had had yet with the music and she’d been living with it for months!
She could see on some visible audience member’s faces that they were energized with their own thought process at the same time. It dawned on her, while she relaxed further into her seat, how incredible special it is that every single person in that space has their own experience with the music. Through each of those individual experiences, they made a communal experience for one another. It stirred our diva’s heart to think that this is one of the ways that you can show love, respect, and neighborliness on a consistent basis. More so, she could access that collective grace as both a performer and an audience member.
Enchanting your audience
Performance began to feel less like an unidirectional street that flowed from the stage to the back of the hall. It was less about her putting her work out for a nameless, unfamiliar audience to judge with their applause or lack thereof. It was suddenly about how she could help create more of those experiences for herself and others in a communal space. It suddenly made sense why there were moments that stopped her dead in her tracks when hearing someone busking on the street and when there were moments she would rather be anywhere else than the concert hall. The performance experience occurs in our minds.
She realized that this thought process wasn’t encouraging her to drop the quest for better musical skills or better marketing knowledge. Rather, anything she could think of was all in service to the powerful experience she wanted to create. It was about making sure that she could be as musically sound as possible to allow for magical moments to happen on stage. It was about making sure that people who are hungry for the experiences she’s creating know about them. And, they are ready to be engaged listeners. It was about making sure that the logistics, of any kind, were carefully attended to in an efficient manner. It was about making it easier to get to the enchantment.
She felt like she was really on to something. Our diva fished her notebook and a pen out of her purse. Flipping to a blank page, she wrote, “enchantment faster.” She let the pen nestle inside the notebook and looked out the window once more. Her gaze softened and she felt her eyelids creep down obstructing the view. She started drifting off to sleep while still being able to hear the strains of the music from last night in the back of her mind.