mentoring

An artist’s prayer.

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Dear Creator,

Allow me to make art with integrity, using my own voice. It’s the only one I really know anyway.

Give me patience that my art will find its audience, however big or small. One enthusiastic fan is worth a large, indifferent crowd.

Help me let go of my creations without expecting return. I’ll produce the quantity — you can be in charge of the quality and distribution.

Remind me to encourage other artists — young, brilliant artists. In this way, my art multiplies without me doing much work.

Allow me to be generous. Supporting and giving praise to other artists does not diminish my gift in the least.

Keep me from making comparisons. They foster jealousy and superiority — both places I do not want to live.

When I wonder if it’s worth it, help me remember, you too are a creator and want to see my gift flourish and heal others.

Let me know that shame has no place in my art. Give me the courage be outrageous, exuberant and tell the truth in the face of fear.

Assist my taking chances and risks. I know you hold the net.

Give me the courage to keep working in the face of discouragement, indifference and failure. They are to be expected when I take chances and try something new.

Surround me with trusted, encouraging voices. Let me be that for them.

When I am tempted to think too much of myself, I get nervous. Let me remember that sharing my art is a gift. In the end, it is about the receiver, not me.

Help me do the work today — it’ll pave the road for my success tomorrow.

Oh, and don’t let me forget the fun. Sometimes I get so grimly focused on end results, that I forget to play with this gift you gave me. Thanks!

Note: Thanks to Julia Cameron for the concept of quantity and quality from “The Artist’s Way.”

 

Sundays with Guy Boleri (or, getting yelled at is good).

Photo by Charles R. Lewis

Photo by Charles R. Lewis

Just a typical Sunday afternoon with my 77 year old, cranky vocal coach Guy Boleri. Some days it’s enough to make a grown woman cry.

You’d think I was a beginner. I’ve written and produced two acoustic folk and one jazz CD. I’ve opened for and performed with semi-famous people (Sylvia Tyson, Shawn Colvin, Richie Havens). I’ve had voice training for over ten years. Why do I sign up (and pay) for this abuse? Turns out, I really need the help.

Here’s what I get from Guy:
Guy holds a mirror up. When I’m good, he lets me know. When I blow it, he tells me (unlike a family member or friend), because I’m paying him to tell me. I can see it on his face and, very rarely, in the tears in his eyes.

Guy knows more than I do. Guy performed at a piano bars and clubs in Hollywood and Northern California for decades. He knows hundreds of songs from the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s by heart. He sang a lot of them when they were first popular. He has forgotten more of the Great American Songbook than I will ever know.

Guy raises the bar. Just when I get comfy, he suggests a song I hate, or find too hard to sing. “Lush Life” and “What Are You Doing The Rest of Your Life” nearly killed me. I’m still struggling with “Mad About the Boy.” On my own, I’d coast on Mediocre Street.

Guy cares about the music. Do not mess with the lyrics. Change an adverb and Guy will be up your business in a flash. He can also magically tell when you are filching someone else’s interpretation, “What are YOU thinking?” Instead, Guy insists I strip a song down to “as written” then encourages me to improvise with my own ideas, not a cheaply rip-off of someone else’s.

I don’t study with Guy because I want to be good. I’m with Guy because I want my voice to stop people in their tracks, and shake them down, looking for any emotional spare change. I'm hoping for brilliance, craft, and ultimately, transcendence.

My “Sundays With Guy” is a start.