Breathing again is wonderful


As I spent the last week being dreadfully ill, coughing up copious amounts of phlegm, snotting all over the place, not being able to sing, and in general being absolutely miserable I figured you wouldn’t want a daily account of my predicament. Perhaps I was mistaken, but I doubt it.

Over the past week here are a few things I have done:

1–Consumed large amounts of unhealthy food (such as, but not limited to, burritos, coffee, potato chips, fudgesicles, goldfish crackers, cookies, brownies, breaded chicken patties, a cheeseburger, french fries) but you will all be happy to know that due to some mysterious but well-wishing fate (or the fact that I probably coughed up all of the liquid I consumed, and a few vital organs as well) that I have maintained my 20 pound weight loss with no problem. Apparently being in poor health is all the excuse I need to revert to poor eating habits. I think I am junk-fooded out and will be returning to an improved diet immediately.

2–NOT gone to the gym. The musical has screwed with my schedule as always, and I was far too ill to work out on my own at home. Yes I do still get some exercise from dance rehearsals, but it is not quite the same thing. This upcoming week I resolve to work out on my own, try out our home pilates machine, and throw in some yoga.

3–Caught up on How I Met Your Mother and Glee. The Britney/Brittany episode was fabulous with regard to the music videos, but I was saddened that Brittany did not get a back story of any substance, or a serious plot line.

4–Met my own personal goals and had a successful formal convocation vocal performance. It was not the best performance ever (also definitely not the worst), but I met the few points that I had set for myself and walked away feeling good, instead of like an abysmal failure.

Speaking of–our “advanced” choir led the first SMU student Compline service, and as every single member was fighting the same sickness I had, every contemplative silence was punctuated by hacking, gagging, coughing, and throat clearing. I thought that it was hilarious and would make a lovely scene in a movie–the irony of the situation was impossible to resist for this theatre major.

I am taking a Literature and Diction (for the singer) class and so far we have been studying IPA. Today we talked about a chapter in my new favorite book: The Art of the Song Recital (by Shirlee Emmons and Stanley Sonntag). It is a favorite for many reasons–the information is excellent, the cover is attractive, and most importantly, the narrative voice of the author(s) is a delight.

To demonstrate what I am talking about, here is an excerpt from the first chapter:

“Having read a description of the intoxicating rewards of the song recital, you may well feel compelled to ask: ‘How can I become a good recitalist?’ You will need every one–a small assortment will not do–of the following skills:

1. a well-trained and reasonably beautiful voice

2. advanced musicianship

3. an attractive and vital personality

4. the ability to project and communicate

5. the ability to think and perform on many levels

6. the ability to go beyond what can be taught

7. versatility of styles (for the American singer)

8. musical and literary insight

9. musical and literary imaginations

10. good health and the determination to keep it.” (pg. 20-21)

While all of this is undoubtedly true, you can imagine my delight in the delivery.

You all know that I take great stock in personal epiphanies, and I have them all of the time. I have discovered recently that the others in my literature and diction class do not agree with or thoroughly appreciate my epiphanies and I am quite saddened by the fact that I am unable to communicate the joy and knowledge which accompanies these seemingly random outbursts in class to the others. Take, for instance, the other day. We were reading poems aloud in class and I had in my hands a volume titled “The Complete Works of Robert Frost (unabridged)”, and on the front was a clearance sticker marked $3.95 (or a similar figure).

When glancing at the cover, I was struck by the enormity of what I was holding in my hand. One man’s entire life work was contained in a single volume, and sold for under four dollars. Can you imagine? What would that feel like, to know that every single thing you had striven for your entire life, every artistic success and failure, every single moment could be captured in a few hundred pages and thrown in the bargain bin. The price, in and of itself, didn’t matter much, other than a passing thought that all of those years could be had for common consumption for less than the price of a blended coffee beverage. The more important thought was that a price could be put on this at all. How do you charge for inspiration, and what arbitrary criteria prompted the cover price ($9.95) to be slashed even more?It was astounding, moving, and even  a little frightening that humanity (as an entity) could so trivialize the artistic struggle of (individual) man.

Of course, no one got it. “Oh, but I’m sure he would love to share his work with others, to have it readily available, and at a price everyone could afford” was the general response. The price is NOT the point–the sheer fact that this is possible should be daunting and frightening. Think what power people have! It is beautiful and telling all at once. I don’t know that I am even communicating the idea well here on my blog, but I wish that others could see what I saw.

Another example:

Today I read aloud the passage that really stirred me in the reading. It is so simple, yet it was such an awakening in my mind.

The crucial difference, therefore, whence springs the actor-singer’s dilemma, is the very fact that, unlike the nonsinging actor who can create his own flexible time and space, the singer’s far more complex chain of command insists that musical correctness govern dramatic truth.” (pg 114)

I have studied the craft of acting for many, many years and while I still have much to learn, I have developed many skills and tools. It is so interesting, and daunting, to me to realize that that might not be enough to be able to act and sing in the recital setting. The music, the setting of the text, the time signature, the translation, the line of the song, all of this is layered in on top of the ordinary considerations of the actor. And every single thing is important, and affects the whole. I think everybody in class gets the point, but nobody seems to think it is as big of a deal as I do.

I think people are just at a point where they indulge me for a moment and then move on.  “Oh, that Emilie…there she goes again”. I wish I could help others understand my fervor, rather than just having them think that I am being disruptive or distracting. I think that at many times (with the exception of when I am ill and dead to the world) I just have far too much passion for others to handle. I don’t know if it is intimidating, or irksome, annoying, or simply puzzling but when I get excited about a thing, I get EXCITED.

I’m alive, I might as well enjoy the ride.

Have a beautifully introspective Friday evening.

Sincerely,

Emilie

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2 thoughts on “Breathing again is wonderful

  1. Yeah, sorry that I didn’t whole heartedly relate to your epiphanies, I kind of felt like a bad friend…but just wasn’t feeling it, which I justify as okay, because you don’t get my Eckhart epiphanies…epiphanies seem to be highly personal things. 🙂

    • Nobody needs to justify themselves to me, or feel badly because they didn’t share an experience with me.
      I just want the same feeling of knowledge and joy for everyone–and if I get that out of my books and you get it out of Tolle, who cares? We are different people who need different things, so we both got exactly what we needed.
      And I think that is beautiful.

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