If we as human beings are indeed connected in a complex psychic web, if thoughts or energies can be transported across space and time, then the operatic super-diva Renee Fleming may have felt a small drain of her artistic resources this morning. That’s because I was busy trying to be her from about 9:15 to noon.
As a lot of pro and semi-pro musicians do, I have a church job singing in a choir on Sunday mornings. I get paid (about as much as you’d expect an artist to get paid) to sit in church and sing hymns, anthems, and some solos, too.
It was my turn to sing the weekly communion solo this morning, but I was not feeling up to it. I’d been anxious all week to open my mouth, even though the song I was assigned wasn’t difficult to perform. Singing in church is not a high-pressure situation. So, if the song was simple and the atmosphere friendly, why was I dreading standing up to sing?
I was suffering from a lack of confidence. Like a pro athlete who is off their game, I have acquired a pretty good case of the “yips”. Between the psychic beating I put my artistic self through this summer, and from what I was hearing in my voice recorder during my practice sessions, I felt like I had forgotten how to sing at all.
But as Sunday morning approached, I realized that the time had come to fake it. You’ve heard of that concept, I’m sure. Basically, you get through a tough spot by pretending that you have all the resources you need, and in pretending, you inhabit those qualities. However, instead of faking that I possessed a perfectly fine, strong voice, I decided to pretend to be someone else entirely. Eh, maybe that’s taking it a bit far, but my artistic soul has been in such tumult of late, that I couldn’t even pretend to be a confident me. Enter Renee Fleming.
I mean, I know that no singer is without flaw, but choosing to be a woman who can afford to toss a failure off her shoulder and move on to the next million-dollar gig was just what I needed this morning. I didn’t even need Renee’s voice, I just needed an air of confidence that I could not conjure on my own.
So, as I stood and sang my small song, whenever a harsh thought showed up (“Hey, remember to stay in tempo.”, or “Breathe here, idiot.”), I turned the voice aside with a mental flick and responded, “How dare you speak to Renee like that. Scram.”
It worked like a charm. I have no idea what I sounded like, but I have a feeling that it was just fine. I’ve never “faked it” before (you can read into that as much as you want…), but I have to say, faking could be a tool I use often in the upcoming weeks to coax my true voice back out of the cave it’s cowering in. I hope I’ll eventually be able to imagine myself as confident, and that – oh, yes I can – come to inhabit that quality for real.