You may or may not know I have a relationship with a choir where I help out with vocal training. This year I branched out into helping with the warmups, to try and set the scene for the voice, as it were. Bringing in a little more vocal technique to help with achieving a better tone, increased breath control and higher notes.
Of course, being the creative soul I am, I couldn't just do the same warmups everyone else has used. I had to invent a whole new system.
So taking inspiration from my yoga class, I decided to incorporate some body work with some breathing and grounding exercises, before we started on the voice.
Then, in order to keep people from just cranking into their voices and to facilitate relaxation, I created stories where people were to put in sound effects and little sung phrases, to create a whole and take people on a journey. Almost like a story meditation but with singing.
It's a little difficult to describe, but it was a lot of fun.
However I had a five week break due to a family holiday, and when I returned the engagement from the choir just wasn't there. I persevered for a couple more weeks and then sent out an email survey to find out what people were thinking about my style.
Half of the respondents were on board and loving it, but half were either on the fence or actively negative. In particular one respondent tried to explain how two other conductors he knew did a similar thing but with much better results. He couldn't see how what I was doing was influencing the choir at all, or changing the sound.
I could have ignored his comment given the greater amount of positive feedback, but something wasn't right, and I was feeling a sense of disengagement from the choir overall.
I should mention this is the first time I've worked with such a large group (60 or 70 voices), and I struggled with my Asperger overload feedback loop in my brain. Whenever people sang my brain shut down for a second, and I lost all capacity to think. To counteract that, I wrote everything down, but this may have caused me to seem less engaging and able to think on my feet.
I'm not sure why I am so attracted to dancing on the edge of my abilities like this.
So I decided to pull out from the warmups, and from helping the choir overall for a while, to lick my wounds and reassess. If I had been paid, I would have pushed through the negativity, but being a volunteer, I didn't feel the need. It requires a lot of energy for someone of my sensitivities to overcome negative feedback, and I delayed issuing my survey knowing this about myself. But in the end I did it, and now have to live with the result. My precarious health and my kids' need of me, require me to be careful how I expend my energy, so I decided the environment was not ideal for me at this stage.
Leaving has been a hard decision because I really thought I might have finally found a place to hang my hat. I have a quirky way of relating to the world, and not every group or organisation can support it, but this choir was different I thought. I thought they might manage to go there with me, and maybe they would have in time, but somehow it didn't work out. I do wonder if we didn't have such a long break whether things would have been different. It has also been hard because this was my only real social outlet in my life.
Since I've left I have received some more emails saying how much they enjoyed my warmups, so that has been nice, but also induced a sense of guilt that I've abandoned people.
I think I am reacting so strongly to this situation because it is pushing buttons from throughout my life where I have been in a similar situation.
I seem to get to places where I can't see my way forward, perhaps I've run out of energy or other priorities arise, or I just can't do it anymore, and so I leave. I am not blessed with the ability to stumble along. This makes it seem like I leave things more than I complete them.
I'm not sure this is true, I have completed many things, including university degree, staying married for 29 years, studying singing for 10 years, many knitted garments etc. But I do struggle in groups when I don't have a direct connection with the people involved. Unfortunately being Aspie/gifted/highly sensitive, this can be many of the groups I attend.
Anyway I ask myself, what is wrong with knowing your own mind and deciding not to continue down a path that isn't suiting you? It is good to be proactive and design your life, even if it means making hard decisions.
I think I need to allow myself this process and not listen to the self critique that follows.
So once again I feel like I have something to share where I can't communicate what I can see, where I'm going deeply or intensely into it, and where many people can't follow.
It seems such a shame.
My Mum says I'm throwing pearls before swine...but then Mum's are notoriously biased. Love you Mum! It's so nice to have a cheer squad, to know you are in my corner!
So, I start again, trying to find a place for my talents. At the moment I am cocooning, and pulling back into my domestic space. I feel like I never want to try to share anything creative again. But of course, in time I won't be able to help myself, and we'll be on the rollercoaster again!
Til next time,
keep on creating,
as I will!