Today was our last day of a formal class structure before we get into two days of intense preparation for our show. In honor of that, a special mid-week edition of my blog!
These last few days have shown me how far I have come, but also how far I have to go, and what I still have to work on. Just a few quick lessons from the past three days.
Improv is playtime for adults: After yesterday's final improv class, I realized I didn't want it to be over. I've talked about my fear of Improv here before, so I'll sum up by saying that a month ago I NEVER in a million years would have expected I would want to continue with improv, but it was just so much fun. It was freeing. And I loved feeling like I could just let it all go for an hour. Laura Parker, you are a miracle worker! (#namascray, the cray in me honors the cray in you :)
Music is our first language: Laura told us this reflecting on a Music Improv class she sat in on, and as we did our final improvs on Monday, I realized how true it really is. My colleagues and I created absolutely GORGEOUS music spontaneously, and while part of the process remains scary, listening back is proof of our talent and abilities. If you doubt that music can suddenly spring from zero preparation, here are the two final group pieces I performed. Both were conversations between musicians in their native language, and the results are stunning.
Spontaneous Quartet, by Hillary Esqueda (Soprano), Glenn Fernandez (Tenor), Jessine Johnson (Soprano), and Catherine Leech (Mezzo Soprano)
"He sings in his sleep" Quintet on text by Sam Shepard by Claire Choquette (Mezzo Soprano), Hillary Esqueda (Soprano), Glenn Fernandez (Tenor), Margaret Izard (Mezzo Soprano), and Jessine Johnson (Soprano) with Ann Baltz (Piano)
Learning is a process: As part of our final classes Ann held a mock audition. I, and pretty much everyone I've spoken to, expected to go in and rock it with all the techniques and tricks we've practiced here, but somehow standing in the crook of the piano, many of my old habits began to sneak back in. My gestures were sometimes basic and my movements more stunted. I let the romance of the music sweep me away and my rhythms became inaccurate in places, and I got WAY too overzealous about my high note which sounded gorgeous until I realized I had no air left to finish the phrase. While I tried to pick it up in my other selections I left disappointed, which compounded more when I received my comments later in the afternoon. I called my boyfriend almost in tears, but he reminded me 1) It was fake, so at least I made mistakes when it didn't count and 2) This was all about learning. (Boyfriends...every once in awhile, they know exactly what to say!) He was right. Everything I've learned here is amazingly helpful, but they are not a miracle cure for every bad audition in my life after years of ingrained habits. I need to integrate these new techniques into my life and into my practice over time. I need to make them the default, but that will take time. Like everything else in this business, it takes time. ( And yes, luckily this audition didn't count!)
We now have a couple hard days of rehearsal ahead of us! Wish us luck and if you happen to be in LA this weekend, come see us play!