Honestly, that’s a bit unusual for me; even more unusual is my going on an ugly rant in public. But this post is about perfectionism, and how unhealthy it is when that perfectionism prevents a musician from feeling certain emotions and being able to express them in a positive way.
Personally, part of my (very dubious) idea of being “perfect” is to never expose anger or ugliness in public – and not so much in private, either. So I’ve decided to practice what I’m always preaching here, and let myself BE FREE TO BE MYSELF – my “perfectly imperfect” self – IN PUBLIC. (Yes, you may laugh at my ridiculous picture! 🙂 )
Naturally, there are plenty of things that make me angry, just like everyone else (I think I’ll get more specific about what makes me angry about the classical music world’s perfectionism in my next blogpost, so stay tuned for the upcoming storm…!). But you know what’s REALLY weird? I never realized that I was carrying around a reservoir of anger inside of me until I first started taking Alexander Technique lessons. That’s right – I was so oblivious to parts of myself that I didn’t even realize I was angry!!
Happily, getting in touch with my own anger turned out to be incredibly LIBERATING – once I got over the painful shock that it existed, and that this was a normal part of being human! The best part was that it started making me a better musician. I mean, how can you let loose and play angry music (and there’s plenty of that to go around, for sure!) if you can’t even feel your own anger?
And it’s not just about anger, of course. What if the music is passionately jealous? Or sickly? Or impatient? Or depressed? Or weak? Or neurotic? Or grieving??
For that matter, we also need to be able to deeply feel all of our positive emotions. What if the music is ecstatic? Celebratory? Powerful? Sweet? Loving? Sexy??
Musicians – just like actors – need to be able to get in touch with EVERY possible emotion in order to be able to express the depths of meaning, the richness of sound colors, and the full range of sound qualities that make up the best renditions of a piece of music.
I’m really glad I got in touch with that black pit of negativity in myself and learned how to harness its volcanic energy in positive, constructive ways to enrich and enliven and HUMANIZE my music – and my life.
This ability to feel all of our emotions is what gives our music the magic of a live performance, given by a live human being. This is what makes a musician sound like an artist, not a computer. When combined with good coordination and solid technical skills, this is what makes your music outstanding and stellar and irresistibly REAL.
I would LOVE to hear your perspective on perfectionism related to feeling anger and other “negative” emotions. Do you allow yourself to feel them fully? Do you let yourself express them or do you hold them in? How do you think your ability to feel affects your ability to communicate your heart through your art? Do you let yourself be yourself fully when you’re onstage or do you hold yourself back, and why? Let’s hear your comments below!
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