I had a voice lesson with Noah Drew recently, and ended up singing while playing piano for a couple of songs. That was actually really frustrating, since his keyboard is not full-size, and not entirely functional. (Sorry Noah, nothing personal!!) The piece I was playing with, ‘Still Hurting’ from The Last Five Years by Jason Robert Brown, is part of the story of a woman whose marriage has ended. In the song, her ex seems to be fine; she is most certainly not. That’s frustrating in itself! Where it became really interesting, though, was in the interplay of my frustrated piano playing and my singing of the story – the truth of simply not being able to play the thing as I had prepared meant that the mistakes, the limitations, and the making-do-with-less, ALL ended up in my ‘performance’. I played wrong notes. I literally banged on the keys in frustration. I sang ‘badly’. But it worked. I told the truth of myself in that moment. (Think: if you were fresh out of a marriage, would YOU be able to hold yourself together enough to sing and play ‘perfectly’? I’d be worried if you could.) I would venture that my performance of that piece, that time, with those challenges, was pretty darn evocative.
This is what I’m learning right now. Being the kind of teacher I am also means that this is what I’m teaching right now. As soon as I learn something, my first question is, ‘Ooh! How many different ways can I teach this to different people?!’ I tell you, there is an incredible sense of freedom in responding truthfully to everything going on in each moment, even if you think it sucks and it really isn’t what you planned. It’s human, plain and simple, and that’s beautiful.