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Monday, September 13, 2010

Cough Cough Sneeze Sneeze Whine and Moan

And I thought fall allergy season was bad!

As terrible as my hay fever is (and only a few seasons ago I was boasting that I had "cured" my hay fever by diligently eating yogurt every morning the three months leading up to September...) this cold I've caught from my hacking wife and coughing children is MUCH worse. I don't know if it's because I'm trying to maintain a working, coaching, teaching schedule, or if it's because my mother in law and father in law are visiting from Iowa and that puts me on a blow-up bed in the dining room, or if it's because there's a bit more stress than usual around the world, but I feel TERRIBLE!

Yes, that's a whine. A big man WHINE. Nobody really whines like a married man who's sick. I do it really well -- big sighs, whining the "where's the Advil?" or the "where's the decaf tea?" or the "can you make me some toast while you're at it?" are all part of my repertoire. So is the ability to ignore the dog at 2am when he wakes suddenly and has to pee. Somehow, I can sleep through that, but not through the dripping faucet in the kitchen. Hmmmm...

Singers can whine a lot, too. When I worked at Glimmerglass I called it the B&M - Bitch and Moan. It usually came from singers whose self-esteem was not as big as their egos, or who had a screwed up passagio, or someone who was not getting any "bites" from the managers who came through auditioning singers, or frankly just a bitchy singer who felt the need to strike out at other humans simply because they felt like it. It didn't happen all that often, but I saw it there, and have seen it elsewhere throughout my 25+ years working in the biz. It's becoming rarer in the opera world, but I do find it still - particularly among the very young just starting out.

This need to make others feel bad is an interesting thing. Why does it happen among artists who get to work on such AMAZING music and text? Shouldn't the act of making music be an antidote to negativity? Where is the joy in singing - literally?

A more important question for someone pursuing a career as a singer might be: Why would other collaborators work with difficult singers who B&M? The answer is that they don't - not any more! This sort of behavior spells immediate failure in a career. There simply is no room for it and it leads to not getting cast, not having a career, and wasting a lot of money on lessons and coachings.

Today on FB, Marc a singer here in Montreal, posted a quote from Gandhi that I had forgotten:
"Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behaviors. Keep your behaviors positive because your behaviors become your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny."

It's so true.

And your thoughts become sounds when you sing... Some of us can hear those thoughts in your voice...

Too bad none of you can hear my whiny tone as I ask my wife for "some more honey, Honey?!"