This is largely an ego project; I will confess that right upfront. Music has been a big part of my life since I was a little kid; and the fact that now it's just meaningless and obscure personal trivia (similar to: "Judy makes good lasagna when she isn't filing at work."), makes me feel kind of sad. So, if I am being 100%, self-incriminatingly honest, I will tell you that my ego wants you to like everything I play and everything I do and for you to think I'm really awesome. I probably won't be satisfied if I suck and nobody likes my songs.
…which is the problem. I have absolutely no delusions of rockstar-ness. I will not be a rockstar. I will not be discovered by Sheryl Crow while she's passing through town. I'm okay with that. But I really don't want to suck. I really don't want to be awful. I really don't want my friends to come watch me play, and have them feel embarrassed for me. I can't bear the thought of people politely telling me, "Oh, that's an interesting song. How nice!" And then wandering away whispering about the disaster.
…which is the other problem. When I'm nervous, my breath becomes weak and shallow. Weak and shallow breathing = crappy singing. When I'm nervous, my hands get sweaty and trembly. Sweaty, trembly hands = crappy guitar playing. When I'm nervous, my brain races, and I can't focus. Racing, unfocused brain = poor memory for chords and lyrics. So a crap performance is a given.
So, if the fear is of being crappy; and crappy performances are guaranteed, then before I do anything, I have to embrace the suckage.
Step 1: EMBRACE THE SUCKAGE!
If I must be terrible, I will be terrible with great joy and enthusiasm. And I will laugh about it and then I will get over it and then I will try it again.
I remember this girl in elementary school named Julia. What I remember about Julia is that if you said, "Hey, Julia, sing us a song," she would do it. She would sing "The Rose" with great passion, with her eyes closed, with hand gestures and exaggerated vibrato. It would be sincere. And it would be awful. Just hideous. But she didn't care. The girl loved to sing, and she didn't give a flying crap if you liked it.
I see adult-Julia's now--I see them with clumsy guitar skills and bleh bleh voices, corn city lyrics, crooning away in bars and coffee shops. And I think, "Oh, you are terrible. This is painful." But they fail so brilliantly and with such verve, that I am simultaneously repelled and envious. I want to know what it's like to feel so free and comfortable that you can fail publicly and truly not care.
I think if I could get over my fear of failure and my own imperfections, that could really free me up to do a lot of things --not just sing and play the guitar in public.
Here is my concrete-yet-changeable plan:
- I will polish up 3 originals and 3 covers.
- I will work up a practice schedule and stick to it (more or less). My husband is a musician and former guitar teacher. He will like telling me what to do.
- At some point I will institute a "Can't say no" policy, wherein, I am not allowed to say NO when someone asks me to play.
- I will interview Wendy and Tawni, both of whom are musicians who have played and sung in front of strangers lots and lots.
- I will observe open mic nights.
- I will post a video of myself sounding hideous.
- I will post a video of myself not sounding hideous.
- I will give my family a concert.
- I will give my friends a concert.
- Then, I will stumble into an open mic fully embracing whatever happens.
It will be beautifully and unabashedly horrific.