The Wildcard Category is the one that makes us tick. It is our lifeblood, our passion, the thing that we simply couldn’t live without. For you, this category might be hiking, or travelling or beekeeping. It’s the thing you do to keep your sanity and because you feel compelled to do it. It’s the failsafe go-to when you need a pick-me-up. It’s the thing you wish you had more time to do.
In my Ideal Life, I am a person who;
- is always discovering new music
- sings everyday
- encourages my family to make music
- pays attention to the music around me
- helps others discover their voice
- uses my voice to bring people into God’s presence
- isn’t ashamed of my old-fashioned music taste
- can belt a showtune for any occasion
- practices the piano
- isn’t shy about improvising
- turns to music instead of medication
- is always learning new techniques
- recognizes the power of music
Where are you coming from?
These last two years have been rough on people who exist in performing. The last concert our orchestra performed in a theater was in January 2020, shortly before I fell sick with COVID myself. There’s a lot of marbled up emotion in that thought.
So…Yeah. The fact that by some strange quirk in the system, French churches were still allowed to function this year without restrictions aside from social distancing, when every other venue was closed, remains some sort of dubious miracle. But it did mean that there was a bit of normalcy as opposed to the year before.
I still had an excuse to go somewhere to sing. Why can you not be satisfied singing at home? you ask. Ah yes, because if there is one refrain I hear endlessly in our house, it is this:
“Mama! Stop Singing!”
I try to tell them, “You know, there are people who would pay to hear me sing?” (On a small scale, naturally. But nonetheless.)
But they don’t care. It is the great equalizer, being dissed by one’s offspring. As a matter of fact, when they want to bargain for something to which I am not likely to agree, they’ll tell me, “We’ll let you sing as much as you want.” It is an oft overplayed chip, but one for which I will fold.
In my Ideal Life, I can belt a showtune for any occasion, and I do believe that there is great power in confounding my children with the great bounty of bizarre songs indelibly stained onto my heart. I very often hear, “Is that a real song?” as I mindlessly sing a tune from Starlight Express or Aspects of Love, (or anything from the Andrew Lloyd Weber back catalogue, really), or better yet, spouting off a really well-placed Rogers and Hammerstein diss. “Impossible!” works nicely when I am unwilling to fold in a bargaining situation, but a Lerner and Lowe “Just You Wait!” can be quite powerful.
My indulgent husband likes it that our little French-born scalawags are getting an education in the Great American Songbook. I, for one, cannot imagine living another way.
This year, my eldest and I, who agree on pretty much nothing ever, found, in music, our one common thrill: Japanese Indie Rock. The minute we hear the “Ichi, Ni, San, Chi”, we give each other a little eyebrow raise and then rock. it. out. For whatever reason, this is our lowest common denominator, and one for which I am incredibly grateful.
My youngest scalawag amazes me by his ability to invent and retain melodies and lyrics. He has a pretty little voice and perfect pitch, which I find astonishing in someone so little. But he’s too much of a ham to sing for anyone but me, which is really quite a shame.
All this to say: In spite of a year in which there were headwinds to performing and making music for an audience, there were a few highlights which were found at home.
Where are you going?
Let’s assume that we will, eventually get out of this pandemic, shall we?
With the tiny little bright spot, which was found in performing a few small, intimate concerts, I have been able to temper my expectations as to what an audience will look like for the next short while.
Oh! Digression alert! Did I mention how much more nervous I was performing for 30 people in someone’s living room than I am for 400 people in a theater? No microphone, no darkened houselights, no swelling orchestra to surf on. This nervousness caught me off-guard.
There is always something new to learn, and I suppose that in the new year, I’ll be learning how to connect with an audience that is a little too close for comfort.
My friend Aline and I have already started plotting. Oh, I have ideas. About seven years ago, she and I once performed a Disney Princesses concert, from One Day my Prince Will Come to Let it Go, and I am aching to resurrect that one. For Valentine’s Day, maybe?
We have a musician friend who is, as a dayjob, the director of our local Ikea, where they have started something called the Ikea Festival. He asked us to come play a few sets in their lobby, which, honestly, sounds like a rollicking good time.
“Where is the strangest place you ever performed?”
“In a kitchen at Ikea.”
It would be photo-worthy, that’s for sure!
I must, must, must cling to hope that this stupid pandemic will end, so we can get on to bigger and better things.