Friday, January 27, 2012

Using Failure to Motivate New Success

A few days ago, I awoke suddenly from a nightmare about a past music failure I'd experienced back in high school. In real life, I was a sophomore and had signed up for a district music competition where I was performing an original song I had penned specifically for that event. I remember working so hard for weeks at my little Casio keyboard, writing furiously in my notebook to make the song exactly what I wanted it to be. When the day of the performance came around, I sang the song and gave it my all. Unfortunately, the judges didn't care for it and I didn't advance to Nationals that year.

The dream was almost an exact retelling of the actual event. I woke up suddenly after getting the news that I hadn't advanced in the competition. My first conscious feeling was dread in my apparent and embarrassing failure in music, and then another thought occurred to me: but I'm a music teacher! Once I fully came to and realized that the event was actually in my past, I was able to comfort myself with the fact that that particular failure didn't seem to set me back in my musical career as much as it could have. In fact I hadn't even thought about it in a long time.

I do remember being devastated after the event and feeling that maybe I didn't cut it as a songwriter. I believe I took some time off, but not too much before I was back writing and singing my original material again.

The tendency seems to be that after we fail at something, it can be easy to give up or take a longer break than necessary from that particular thing. Why would you want to try something again that you've already failed at? Herein lies the lesson. Just because you've failed at something, even something that you have talent in, doesn't mean you shouldn't attempt it again for the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th time. Eventually, you'll have logged enough failures that you are bound to have some experience under you belt and are that much closer to success.

Please don't discount the life experience you gain from every failure. It will grow you as a musician, singer, or whatever else you are in life.

So, I issue a challenge today: think about something that you've tried in the past and failed at and have maybe been too scared to attempt since then. Now, I want you to try again! What if you fail again? So what? Dust yourself off and chalk it up as life experience. Been aching to audition for the local musical in town even though it scares the life out of you? Do it anyway! What if you succeed? What if it leads to greater opportunities than you ever thought possible?

Do me a favor: once you've tried this challenge, post a comment on this blog or on my facebook letting me know how it went. It really doesn't matter if you fail or succeed; as long as you try again. I think you'll be surprised at what you can do when you take a leap out of your comfort zone and allow your failures to catapult you to even greater successes!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Update! (Or, Where in the World Have I Been?)

Well, hello again, blog! I am sorry to say that as soon as I began getting ready for my new high school choral position, I completely stopped updating this blog! It's hard to believe it's already been a half a year! Here we are, already half-way through January of 2012! It's amazing how time flies when you're having fun.

I don't know if you're into New Year's Resolutions, but it's something I try to do each year, and I attempt to make them attainable things in different areas of my life that need work. Several of my musical goals I'll list here: one of them is to update my blog regularly (that is, at least once per month) and also to get some songwriting done this year. I didn't do a whole lot of writing in 2011, and I miss it! So in 2012, I hope to tap back into my creative side and write at least 5 songs.

Now onto the update. Since my last post, I have started my new choral job and have already completed the first half of the school year. All I can say is that the cliche is true: nothing can prepare you for teaching like your first year! It has been a whirlwind!

First of all, I have some really talented students. They have totally upped the stakes for me. What I used to spend minutes on checking before I would teach, now I'm sure to study out to make sure I really, really know what I'm talking about! High school students can sniff a fake or a lie in an instant! But I am amazed at my students' abilities to learn music. I have each of my choir students five days a week, and I wouldn't have it any other way. We can really dive into the material, learn it well, and have some fun while doing so.

I am also proud to say that once-foreign words to me like All-County, FVA, ACDA, and MPA are no longer a major source of confusion for me. My motto this year has been to take every thing one step and one day at a time, while learning along the way. I can't believe how much I've learned in such a short period of time!

My students had the opportunity to audition for Disney World's Candlelight Production, which is a spectacular Christmas program that runs from the end of November through New Years at Epcot. We started working on the audition pieces probably around the first week of school. We sent in our audition dvd, and received word that we'd been accepted! Then came the really hard part of learning fifteen songs for the show, all of them SATB scores including Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus". On December 5th, I accompanied 48 of my high school choral students to Disney World and got to hear them sing in Candlelight! It was one of the proudest moments of my life and one of the coolest things I've ever done in Florida!

Finally, while settling into my new job as chorus teacher, I was observed by another teacher at my school, and given the great honor of Teacher of the Month for December! It made me so proud to know that my hard work is paying off and someone else is taking notice that I am trying to make a lasting difference in the lives of my music students.

That is an update on my little world. I will be sure to address many exciting singing topics this year such as auditioning, taking criticism, finding your voice part, and song-writing! It's good to be back! Please remember, if you have a voice question or comment, you can always post it to this blog! Happy New Year!

(This is a pic of me posing with the Golden Apple Award, for receiving Teacher of the Month at my school in January!)