I was a theatre major in college, and my main love was musical theatre. I had some success early in my career: summer stock, regional theatre, and a small East Coast tour. The full time jobs were a dream for me, and summer stock was the best training. We’d start rehearsal at 9 a.m. for one show, and we’d perform another show at night. With the children’s theatre or a matinee, we’d perform over eight shows a week. Performing on stage became second nature to me.
I got married in my late twenties, and as I settled down with a full time corporate job, my theatre career fizzled out. The years blurred by, and one day I realized that, not only had I not performed on stage in several years, but the idea filled my chest with dread.
My family used to ask me to sing for them at the holidays, but with my new stage fright, I couldn’t breathe. My knees would shake, and my voice would stick in my throat.
By my late thirties, I found I was mourning a career and a love I hadn’t planned to leave behind.
When I was a young, struggling actress, I had read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. The quote that stuck with me was as follows:
“But do you know how old I will be by the time I learn to really play the piano/act/paint/write a decent play?”
Yes…the same age you will be if you don’t.
So let’s start.
Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way
This quote stayed with me fifteen years later. I needed to start again. I didn’t know what it meant, but even though it had been several years, I couldn’t give up that part of my life permanently.
I contacted a music director and voice teacher I knew from my theatre days. I wanted to sing again, I told him, but I wanted to learn to sing better than I ever did. I wanted to start over and learn a new technique. His encouraging words warmed my heart that day and gave me hope.
What could I commit? 30 minutes every other week. It was all I could manage with my full time job and other commitments.
We started off slowly, and it has been a few years of practice and diligence. I’ve also discovered that I can have the most stressful week, and after a voice lesson, it all goes away. That 30 minutes provides a reset and a light to get me through the rest of the days. I’ve learned that it doesn’t have to be a full-out theatre career for me to tap into that pure joy musical theatre always brought me in the past.
And I am learning! I am grateful to work with such a great teacher. He is so patient and precise with his method. He has guided me through very specific exercises to pinpoint my sound, strengthen my voice, and expand my range. When he recommends an adjustment, I’m amazed at how it opens a window in my voice.
I’m not sure what is next. I might join a choir or a cabaret. I think I need to step on a stage again. I struggle with feeling tired at the end of the day. How will I find the energy to sing and memorize lines and choreography again? And I need to brave the world of auditioning again…I’ll let you know how it goes.
A friend of mine mentioned she had set aside her love of baking while her kids were little. Another friend has missed his time to paint. What have you set aside because the rest of your life has taken priority? Is it time to start again in a new way?