This past weekend was the culmination of a 10 week workshop I participated in through Blue Bear Music School. The school facilitates band workshops where people sign up with their availability and instrument of choice to get matched with others to form a band.
The bands work on a set of cover songs for 10 weeks and perform a showcase at the end. Sunday night was our showcase and boy, was it fun! Our set consisted of songs, from the likes of Aretha Franklin, Amy Winehouse, The Kooks, Stevie Wonder and The Lumineers.
I reflected a lot throughout the whole workshop. The whole 10 weeks reengaged a part of myself that I had stuffed away for a long time. The last time I took the stage to sing was over ten years ago at my high school talent show. I learned and gained so much by dusting off my pipes. Here’s what I’ll take away with me.
Honor and figure out a way to do what you love.
It’s scary to go after the things you love. It’s easy to dismiss it as being frivolous, unproductive or selfish.
It is silly to paint. I’m no good anyway.
Why should I take that dance class? I should spend time doing grown-up things.
I just don’t have time to write.
I want to spend time doing what I love. And that’s more than okay (pssssssst. It’s okay for you too!).
Loving something is more than enough reason to do it.
My fellow band mates offered their wisdom when I asked each of them, “Why is it important to do what you love even if you don’t get an external reward or accolades from it?”
“Because that’s what life is about. That’s what your heart and soul need.”- Brian, guitarist
“Life is short- you gotta do what makes you happy.”- Tin, guitarist
“Things like work and making money are not fulfilling on their own- it’s doing what you love that is.”- Roberto, drummer
“Doing things that you love are the reward, independent of whether you get paid for it if or anyone is watching/listening.”- Zack, bass
Be relentless about what you love. Find a way to do it. There is not an obvious avenue to express myself through singing. I didn’t want to be the creepy person at the karaoke bar every weekend so I found another thing that would help me do it (thank you, Blue Bear!). Find your thing!
Be okay with being imperfect in the process.
Up until a week and a half before the showcase I was terrified to sing without reading lyrics. I clung to my little packet of lyrics during each rehearsal because I hated the idea of potentially messing up.
At our second to last rehearsal I took off the training wheels and sang the whole set without lyrics. And it wasn’t perfect. I forgot the first line of one of the verses to “Respect.” I sang the wrong line to the third verse in “Oh, Darling!” And on and on. I felt a jolt of panic run through me each time but I had no choice but to keep singing.
At our final sound check, the set still wasn’t perfect. I miscounted how many times to sing a line in our closing song and went into the chorus too early- and this was an hour before the show.
When it came time for the show, I powered through everything whether it “felt” perfect or not.
The whole process helped me to be more comfortable with the imperfect process of something coming together. You are never going to feel totally ready to do anything.
Learn to sit with the feeling of imperfection and not let it take over. If you make a mistake, just keep going. You won’t die- I promise.
Walk the talk.
I fully believe that we are all meant for lives where we are showing up as our most joyful selves. I’m constantly preaching it (just ask my friends), but I can only talk about it if I’m demonstrating it first. Sometimes, it’s scary. Sometimes, I’d just rather be comfortable.
When it felt uncomfortable or silly to spend time doing this workshop I remembered what I believe: that this world is a better place when the people living it are expressing themselves unabashedly. Yes, that means you, too.
So go be your most silly, expressive, genuine self.
If you are curious about what the showcase was like, here is a clip (note the dramatic pause before the last chorus).