In the 2018 version of 29 Days to Diva, I reached out to over 30 diva mentors to pass on their hard-won advice to fellow divas no matter where they are on their journey. The insightful responses blew me away. I feel deep disappointment in myself that I didn’t complete the 2018 edition of this series. But, the wisdom of those diva mentors did not slip away. Even two years later, I look at some of their remarks and I cannot wait to share them with you.
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The diva mentors are a group of people who I’ve connected with over the years that inspire me in this field. Plus, some of these visionaries were kind enough to refer me on to people who they find inspiring. Today’s advice comes from one of the very first important sages that I connected with in person as a young new music mezzo-soprano, Lindsay Kesselman. I went to my first new music summer festival at the age of 26. That almost seems late if you believe the customary advice. And, I felt like a late bloomer showing up to most of my summer training festival experiences (I was still recovering from attending AIMS in Graz at 22) being 26-29 while celebrating my fellow participants’ 21st birthdays during these festivals.
I showed up to MusicX (Music11) in Switzerland, after a pretty traumatic experience at Bel Cantanti Summer Festival in D.C., and promptly met the rest of the participants including two sopranos Jessica Aszodi and Lindsay Kesselman. While I learned a ton from Matthias Pintscher, David Lang, and eighth blackbird who were in residence during this festival, I’ve kept in contact and have been transformed by knowing Jessica and Lindsay.
When I moved back to Iowa after my significant other passed away unexpectedly, Lindsay recommended me for a gig that became a life-long collaboration. I mention this not for your sympathy. But, to draw your attention to the inexplicable value that developing deep relationships brings. Lindsay wasn’t able to accept a gig because of the logistics in her life and she took a chance that I would be open to it. I strive to be the kind of compassionate colleague and friend that Lindsay and Jessica are to me. With all of that in mind, we take our prompt from Lindsay today…
Your 29 Days to Diva – Day 3 Assignment: Journal about times when you felt most yourself when performing
It means a lot to me that Lindsay and Jessica understood me as a baby new music singer in contrast to their vast experience. Yet, they saw me. They included me. They supported my interest in new music. They saw in me the musician and colleague I wanted to become. That’s a very powerful thing.
So, today, I want you to think about the musician and colleague you want to become. Here’s Lindsay’s advice:
Remember that you are a unique individual, with unique gifts and interests which can benefit our field! What repertoire really excites you? Do you have other non-musical interests which can inform who you collaborate with or what kinds of texts you find interesting?
Be on the look out for new repertoire which “speaks to you.”
Go to concerts of all varieties and talk to other musicians about what excites them.
Journal about times when you felt most yourself when performing, or listening to a piece on a recording or in a concert. Find common threads and learn to cultivate more of those experiences.
I hope that you will be inspired by one of my friends and colleagues today. Every time I’m around Lindsay and Jessica, I feel a renewed sense of what it feels like to be “the most myself” when performing. I want you to look around for the mentors in your life who see you, encourage you, inspire you. I want you to journal about what it means to “feel the most like yourself when performing.” Let that inform the kinds of gigs you take on. Let that inform the kinds of opportunities you pursue.
I love this prompt because Lindsay was there in my life when I discovered that new music was the arena in which I felt the most “myself” while performing. This assignment is twofold in that way: I want you to think about when ‘you feel the most yourself when performing’ but I also want you to consider who was there when you discovered it. Tell them how important they have been to you.
What kinds of questions can you ask me about today’s assignment? I’m all ears! You can ask questions in the comments below or find me on social media. I’m @mezzoihnen. It makes my day when you tweet me.
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