I joined my first band in the 4th grade. Alright, well, it was a recorder band (you know, recorders?), and I imagine we sounded pretty awful most days…but it was a band nonetheless. This is where I first developed my love of music. I learned to read it (Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge), and most importantly I learned the value of working together to meet a common goal.
Through the years I've been in a number of different ensembles – in high school I took up the saxophone and played into my early 20s – jazz bands, concert bands, even a marching band. I sang in the church choir, which is a type of band. In my later 20s, I got more seriously into singing, joining a community choir, then a women's chorus, and a semi-pro all-female a Capella quartet (I sang baritone).
Most recently, I've entered my most intimidating musical experience to date…I've joined a rock n' roll band. I was honoured to be invited by my friend Lee Ann. She had been singing with a few fellas for several months and they had decided they wanted another vocalist. One fateful, jazz-fillled night, mine and Lee Ann's paths crossed, and before I knew it I was behind a microphone, tambourine in hand, harmonizing my little heart out.
Every musical ensemble I've been fortunate to be involved with has been a rich and rewarding experience, and I've come away better for it. But of all the musical experiences I've had, singing in this band has taught me two of the most important things in life.
Trust is #1. Always.
There are 6 of us in the band and we all have our roles to play. Some cross over (our lead guitarist also sings and Lee Ann also plays guitar) and some are fixed ( our drummer, while a talented multi-instrumentalist in his own right, sticks to drums in this configuration). But each week, we all show up to practice knowing the role we each fill. Each individual is responsible for knowing their part and their place in the music. If any one link is broken, it all falls apart. We trust in each others' abilities. That's not to say we don't make mistakes once in a while – but because we have faith in each others' talents and skill, we can work together and support each other through the tough parts.
Trust is everything, no matter what kind of team you collaborate with. If you can't trust that everyone is going to take responsibility for doing the best they can with the part they have, you have nothing, and it will all fall apart. Build your teams ONLY with those you trust and can rely on at all costs.
Do something that scares you.
I can get on a stage and speak to hundreds of people and barely bat an eye. I can get up In front of a class of 18 year olds and keep their attention and not worry one speck about it. I can give killer presentations to prospective clients and not lose any sleep.
But nothing…nothing terrifies me more than getting up on stage to sing.
And that is precisely why, when Lee Ann asked me to join the band, I didn't even hesitate to say yes. Does it still scare me, even after months of doing it? You bet. But it's not the paralyzing kind of fear, it's the motivating kind. You see, ever since I was a little kid I wanted to sing. I was the 12 year old girl dancing around her bedroom singing “Oh Mickey, you're so fine, you're so fine you blow my mind” into a hairbrush for hours at a time.
When I figured out later in life that I actually had singing ability, I realized that my dream of standing on a stage belting into a mic someday might actually happen. I freaked out, and the shy little girl inside me wanted to run away. But I sucked it up, because I knew I'd regret it if I never did it. The first few times I opened my mouth barely a note came out. But over time my voice grew more confident, and so did I. Nowadays, I'm still scared, but I know that my voice has come a long, long way. And with the amazing support of my bandmates I've been able to live out my dream.
What dream do you have that you're too scared to go after? Why are you so afraid? I sucked the first time I stood up and sang. I've even sucked during a performance in front of hundreds of people because I got too nervous and choked. But I learned from the experience, and I've figured out ways to overcome my nerves and just let 'er rip. I still get nervous, but I have learned to use that nervous energy in my performance.
Do something that scares you – no – terrifies you. I guarantee it won't turn out as bad as you think it will. In fact, you might just make a dream come true.
Music is one of the most important parts of my life, and it's the one thing, above all else, that I must make time for, otherwise I feel incomplete. I have no aspirations of being the next big thing. I want to continue to jam with my band and get to know them, record a few songs, play a few gigs. It's my peace in a hectic life. I'm grateful for the musical aptitude I was born with, and I'm grateful for the opportunities I have to live this passion with such talented people.
[photo by fensterbme]