Finding your inner artist, day 19: About not constantly judging and projecting

Today’s quote:

The lessons you are meant to learn are in your work. To see them, you need only look at the work clearly — without judgment, without need or fear, without wishes or hopes. Without emotional expectations. Ask your work what it needs, not what you need. Then set aside your fears and listen, the way a good parent listens to a child.  (from “Art and Fear” by David Bayles and Ted Orland).

Art & Fear
Art & Fear (Photo credit: alternatePhotography)

Another quote you can understand in many ways…

There’s this singer, let’s call her Charlotte. Charlotte has huge natural talent, but she also has a lot to learn from a technical point of view. So I recommend she records her lessons to monitor her progress. She blocks. “I cannot stand listening to myself”. “Why is that?” I ask. “Because I hear all the mistakes”.

This is not unusual at all. There was a time when I didn’t particularly enjoy listening to my voice, despite other people telling me it sounded good. I could only hear the mistakes, never the good things. Like Charlotte, I had this “zooming in on mistakes” mentality, no matter if 95% of the song sounded great. Can you imagine the frustration if those 5% are all you are able to take in?

It took me years to learn to listen to my singing (sort of) objectively. Without “need or fear” for things to go perfectly, or hitting a bum note; “without wishes or hopes” that this recording would finally be the one without a single mistake. I needed to let go of projecting, insecurities in other areas of life included, because nothing of this would help me to progress and grow – neither as an artist, nor as a person.

Once I learned to see it from that angle, and I just listened without judgement, I could also hear the good things. I could still hear what went wrong as well, but now it was fine.
“Mistakes” started to turn into a compass; through them, I could pinpoint what my art needed to get better. This wasn’t just technical work, even if I had very often thought so in the past:

Little adjustments in my daily “non-artist” life also helped to become a better singer, probably at least as much as working on my voice…

© Petra Raspel 2013

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