Monthly Archives: Fevereiro 2014

Today I saw the Ocean

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Today I saw the Ocean.
Not everyone’s deep blue ocean, but my own. 
 
It was the same familiar Ocean 
with whom I’ve been sharing my whole life.
It was just there, as always,
alive and understanding.
 
No one knows me as the Ocean does.
No one else knows how I really feel,
or knows how to move me.
 
From my first steps to my first kiss,
and until my last breath,
this life-long Companion will always be my therapy,
the light at the end of the tunnel,
and above all,
my Confident.
 
With It I learned how to open up,
how to stop and listen, 
how to trust and let go.
 
Its scent, breeze, sound and energy
makes me feel alive and in peace with myself.
 
I miss spending time by the Sea,
in secret and truthful contemplation.
It may remind me of my loneliness
but still, makes me feel protected.
 
Just some minutes shared with the Ocean,
fill my heart and enlighten my mind.
 
It brings back memories of happy times.
Happy times that turned blue,
happy times that will never come back nor go away.
 
I prefer to remember the times of “innocence” –
those Sundays spent with my family at the beach –
even if they clearly display my restless and naughty nature,
as a child.
 
I don’t really care,
because the Ocean never tells.
It keeps it all to Itself and is always there,
waiting for my return
and providing me shelter
from the rest of the world.
 
 

What classical singers are made of

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As a classical singer I now and then (not to say frequently) come across some quite standard and unfair judgments regarding the way we all are or should be.

What makes a classical singer? Is there a specific gene we all must share to be able to be recognized as a singer? Or can specific individuals just be who they are and still sing, if their instrument allows? How many times do we hear sentences like: “You’re too shy to be a singer.”; “I can see you’re a singer by the way you’re dressed.”; “If you can’t act crazy then you’re not a singer.”?

Let me tell you that I am proud to fit in this category and that being a singer is immensely rewarding, but specially because our job is to share emotions and experiences (not to say, beautiful works of art). This kind of attitude cannot come from someone who just wants to show up and is full of him/herself, as many people think singers are.

Of course we all come across one or two of these personalities, but we live in a diversified society, for our own sake! We’re in the XXI century, and things are changing. If back in the 50’s, and especially in the previous centuries, Diva’s behavior spiced up the so-called “restrained” classical world, nowadays it is less and less endured. Actually, there’s no point in trying to play the Diva, because there will immediately be another uncomplicated singer waiting for a chance.

The classical music world keeps growing closer to the general public, even if always in a subtle way. The same applies to classical singers. Classical singing schools keep growing as more and more singers join this world. Of course the market is still too small to employ us all, and in most places, is also being affected by the financial crisis. Still, it may amaze you that singers generally create a supportive and friendly environment. Most of my closest friends are singers and – surprise, surprise – sopranos! We are all in this together, why create any more problems in the context of a career that is already very harsh by itself?

We all have our dreams and ambitions, and even if they coincide, we are all different persons, with different qualities that will make us a match for what’s right for us. By now I’ve met a significant number of classical singers to assert that we are all different! From the most shy personality to the most extravagant, what matters is what we can do when we step on stage. This ability also develops as we grow and become comfortable with our voice. In my opinion, the almost mandatory characteristics a singer has to own or acquire is:

  • a big deal of patience – here I can speak for myself. I don’t usually rest when I don’t get things the way I want. Well, as a singer I have to take things slower, as too much effort may damage my unreplaceable instrument.
  • resilience –  be adaptable, flexible (despite the different degrees of adaptability), while remaining what we are, despite the back-and-forth professional and personal changes.
  • persistence – never give up, no one wants to become a classical singer because it’s easy!
  • humbleness – for me as a audience, there’s nothing more appealing than a humble, down-to-earth singer.
  • be daring – despite all our insecurities (we all have them, even if we don’t show) we have to just go for it, despite the result. Dare!

Although having self-confidence is important for life in general (not only singing), I believe that it should be balanced. Having a lot of confidence may also have the reverse effect, by making you unaware of what still needs to be solved (there will always be something to keep developing!).

We will never feel 100% confident in what we do all the time, and this won’t compromise our development as long as we don’t let it hold us back. The important thing is to be willing to keep stepping out of our comfort zone, thus always challenging ourselves.

Hence an amusing clip of Tintin’s Castafiore, based on some very old stereotypes:

Win some, lose some.

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We all live under constant pressure from every possible source, and that makes it essential for us to develop our self-belief and resilience. The thing that we don’t usually realize is that we are the creators of that pressure ourselves. We decide how to accept (or not) what comes from the outside.

It is important to learn how to filter all that information, specially by admitting that we are who we are and that it is useless trying to be someone else, for other people’s sake. We should surround ourselves by people who appreciate us exactly how we are and make us feel at home with ourselves, instead of trying to keep adapting to those who are usually near.

In what concerns professional matters, it is good to be willing to improve but that will only be possible once we establish our goals and make them really clear in our minds. When we don’t, all the opinions that we hear will easily tear us down on a lost road to despair. I see myself as a determined and self-aware person, but I still fall down this road sometimes, maybe because my goals until now are only for the near future, or simply because I’m so willing to try everything I can.

On this growth process we always win and lose. While building up our weaknesses it is important to remain true to what we are. I realized that I began to be so defensive in a way that people start to think I’m cold and insensitive… Me!?! Well, I know it is my own fault. If one year ago everything made me cry, now I can say that many months go by without any tear rolling down my cheeks. I hated that about me, crying for every possible reason, but the truth is that I needed it. It was the way my body released all the tension I accumulated. Now, I find myself wanting to cry to release that tension, but it just doesn’t happen. Does this mean I’m stronger? Well, in some aspect maybe, at least I don’t cry when I really shouldn’t (Yes, I still remember having singing lessons while crying, and that is not pleasant!). But this dryness also dries my heart, as the tension release occurs now more frequently through speech, pushing people I care about away.

My task now is to find the balance between both sides, taking what’s good in both situations. It is scary to allow ourselves to be vulnerable, but it is even scarier to lose so much in live just because we prefer to feel safe.

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Bubbling in the stillness

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All this bubbling in the stillness
The Heart deceives.
Though a shy Sparkle talks
As no sound has ever did.
 
Be the Mind, full of pride,
Or the Heart in fear,
This bubbling does not cease,
Whenever you are near.
 
Every Sparkle is unique,
Even if familiar.
Its attention 
The Heart steals,
But then again distresses
With its stillness.
 
A melody starts
and Sparkles speak 
what the stillness veils
but the Heart perceives.