"Art is the conversation between lovers.
Art offers an opening for the heart.
True art makes the divine silence in the soul
Break into applause."
This month’s self improvement theme has been music, which means that I have actually looked up lessons on how to play the harmonica on youtube, sang out loud (instead of just in my head) every night, and will be getting my hands on a ukulele tuner within the next few days. All of this music making has got me thinking about my “lost love” or more so, the path not taken.
For those of you who are not in the group of family and friends that are close to me, it may surprise you that I was once pretty “into” music. Not only was I “into” music, but I was into musical theater, and choir and an a cappella group and that I have a long standing, on again, off again relationship with guitar. In high school I was a part of 6 major musicals (including an opera), 3 variety shows, a competition short, and once performed at Disney World as a part of a singing group, The Loreleis. All of this accumulated in me auditioning for about a dozen musical theater programs at the start of my senior year in high school. I was wait listed at one, and rejected from the rest.
At this point in my little story I would like to point out that the largest program I auditioned for took 30 people a year; 15 boys and 15 girls, and that is pretty much the standard when it comes to programs like that; thousands of people competing for between 5-15 spots. Getting into musical theater college is hella hard, and the vast majority of people end up more like me and less like Rachael on “Glee.”
So I quickly came up with a contingent plan and applied last second to Michigan State and DePaul and happened to get my Michigan State acceptance first, so I took it. This ended up being one of the best happenings in my life because I found James Madison Residential College, and learned that my passion for culture, people and politics was equally as intoxicating. I briefly attempted to get into the MSU Jazz program as a double major but got a “delayed rejection” (whatever the hell that means.) I sang in a few competitions and made a little bit of money, but mostly relegated my musical career to karaoke nights, the shower and, once I moved into an apartment, the kitchen.
My love affair with singing and music has never completely let up, and had I not gotten into Peace Corps when I did, my back up plan was to go audition for American Idol in South Carolina. I think about it a lot, this road not taken. I think about what would have happened had I tried a little harder, focused a little more, studied for my auditions a few hours a day instead of a few hours a week, or just continued to try and fight even after getting rejected. Singing still fills my soul in ways that I have yet to see matched in much, though talking about political ethics and cultural comparisons comes damn close, and there are times when not to sing at any given moment can be painful in ways that only an artist could understand.
But then I think about where I am now, and what I am doing. Had I gotten into a musical theater program I would not be talking to all of you through this blog. I wouldn't be Botswana because I never would have joined the Peace Corps. I wouldn't be self studying on gender, queer theory, social dynamics, and expression because I would be boning up for auditions in whatever major city I had moved to after graduation. I don’t think I would have had the type of work ethic that is needed to really make it in that business. I know people, and have friends that are doing it, and I look at them at times a wonder where all the energy comes from.
This month has been wonderful so far, because I have forced myself into a regular musical practice again, and I think I will continue to do so for the rest of my service. When I get back to Michigan I’m going to look into doing some community theater, and the karaoke will for continue. Who knows? Maybe the path not taken will loop around to me again in ways I’m not expecting?
As a way to try and get people to comment more, I'm going to offer this up: if four or more people comment on this post, I will sing into my web cam and post it up here for everyone. You may like my singing, you may not like my singing, but either way you will get it if you comment! Will also keep me accountable to my goal this month :)
Just some thoughts for the day.
Hugs and smooches,