I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. I believe that change can be more successful if focus and work is integrated into the everyday patterns of life rather than relying on the “magic” of a certain time of year. That said, as I’ve been thinking about the past year and the year to come that is already in progress, three words have surfaced that are providing a positive framework for my approach to my musical life…and also for who I want to be.
Fidelity. I love this word: it’s so simple and so rich. It reflects the rigor of precision in the words and notes when I sing, the integration of proper timing and rhythm. Fidelity results when each sound is lined up exactly where it should be. The hard work of drilling my music so I know it cold will not likely result in perfection – I’m human, after all – but I want to strive to recognize the extra beauty that will be brought to my life when all things are in their proper place. However, fidelity means more than that. Fidelity also represents a kind of faithfulness, loyalty and support. Singing together in New England Voices in Harmony provides many opportunities to practice that type of fidelity. We come together as very different people, with a range of gifts and talents as well as challenges. We support one another, we trust that each person is bringing her very best to our time together, we work hard to rise above differences towards common goals. In so doing we can not only create beautiful music together, but a safe space in a chaotic world that allows each person to feel known and accepted.
Consistency. Being consistent or constant goes hand in hand with fidelity, taking it from an occasional spark to something we experience more and more frequently. What does this mean to me? One important action is simply to be there. Although I, like all our members, have many other things going on in my life that can get in the way, I want to be there each week at rehearsal…I want to be there to participate in performances…I want to be there to anticipate and support the many tasks small and large required to keep an organization functioning…I want to be there to support my sisters in Harmony. I don’t want to be the only one showing up to do all those things, but I want people to know I can be counted on because I believe in our community and our chorus. And I think that, as more of us begin to trust in this consistency, even more of us will step up and do the same. Consistency in my work practices, and taking time in my life to set aside for developing my musical skills is also important. If I don’t make time for the things that matter to me, who will?
Meaning. In our lives it is so easy to get swept along with busy-ness of obligations and allow life to pass us like a blur. One of the things I love about singing with New England Voices in Harmony is that when we perform together that is my total focus. I can’t think about my worries, I can’t be anxious about tomorrow, I can’t be preoccupied with wondering about what’s coming next. In that moment, I am only that particular song, that particular message. Internalizing and sharing the specific story of each song gives me permission to live in those emotions – whether they are deeply wrenching or joyously silly – and to share the experience with others. Whether the particular emotion is one I have experienced personally or not, singing the story takes me to places I might not ordinarily let myself fully go. This allows me to better empathize with others and also to explore some of the deeper places in myself and, just for that moment, be held by that shared experience. Recognizing and expressing honest emotions in a caring and constructive way is something I’d like to see more of in my world.
I have found myself turning these words over in my mind a lot this year so far. Maybe you will find different words that can be touchstones for you on your path in this coming year. But however you do it, I wish you a wonderful journey. Happy new year!