I have made some good progress this week. The most notable accomplishment of the week has been my average study time. For a number of weeks I have been averaging just a little less than one hour a day of studying. This week I finally got back over the one hour average. I am learning quite a bit, however I have not seen results manifest themselves in my spoken language. I attribute this mostly to a lack of opportunities to speak with people in Arabic. The few natives I do know are surprised when I speak to them in Arabic, however they do not respond back in Arabic. I am hoping that I can wear them down and eventually they will engage me.
Vocally, I am still just working away. This week has not been one of major discoveries or majors steps, however consistency and ease are coming in more and more every week.
I have found that I have a new transition that I need to keep myself accountable for: my health. I have decided to chronicle this here; my plan will not consist of any fad diets or workouts. It will simply consist of adjusting to a healthier diet and exercising regularly. I will also be exercising three times a week. These workouts will be both cardio and weight training. Given my current physical ailments (a very bad knee, possibly a meniscus tear) I will be gradually working up to running for a full hour. I will record my numbers here every week beginning with this week as my starting weight. While I will be following a MWF exercising week, my weeks for the purposes of this blog will still go from Saturday to Friday.
Current Weight: 237.4 lb.
Goal Weight: 185 lb.
Methodology Minute: The Importance of Passion
When I was in high school I was a saxophonist. I was actually the second best saxophonist in my city area, according to audition-competitions for various ensembles. I actually initially went to college to study music education with an emphasis in saxophone. However, when I went to college I was at the bottom of the barrel and had little to no hope of pulling out from that spot. I ended up transferring out of my first school just a few weeks prior to receiving my letter telling me I was not able to return due to my academic standing. Fast forward a few years and I am now a voice major. I began my second college try, this time as a music performance major with an emphasis in voice. Admittedly, I was not a very good singer for the majority of my time in college. There are audio clips that support this, however I am not going to post those here today. However, within a couple of years of graduation, I was being told that I was one of the singers who seem to understand the techniques being taught the best, and that I should be auditioning ASAP.
So why was it that I flunked out of my saxophone program and have thrived in my vocal life? Was it that I was a more talented singer than I was a saxophonist? No, in fact I would say that if anything the opposite was the case. Most people I know have considerably more innate talent than I do in the field of singing. The true reason that I have succeeded in my current field as compared to my former can be explained in one word: passion.
When I was in high school the Dean of Admissions at Eastman School of Music gave a speech to my workshop about passion. The general gist of his speech has stuck with me ever since. He said that the key to being happy in your adult life is to do those things which you are passionate about. The most important thing said during this speech was: "If your profession ever becomes work, quit!"
This outlines quite specifically what happened to me at my first college; saxophone became work. I had to literally drag myself to the practice room to practice, in fact most times I simply did not practice at all. However, vocally I feel frustrated when I cannot go practice! Even now, seven years into my singing life I relish singing and all things having to do with singing. I research music and composers, listen to and discover new singers, read books on vocal pedagogy, learn languages, read books on acting, etc. Essentially, there is not a thing about singing and the singing profession that I do not absolutely love. Music is an integral part of my day and is present almost the entire day. This is usually to the frustration of those who have to be around me. Here is an example to show you what I mean:
I was in Italy for a singing three week singing workshop and was walking through the town of Spoleto with some friends one evening. As per usual, I was humming or singing quietly to myself while I was walking since no one was talking to me. Abruptly, one of the people in the group turn around to me and said "You never stop, do you?" in an annoyed tone. I simply answered "No." and continued on my way. However the real question I wanted to ask was "You do?" I just assumed that this want and urge to sing always was common among singers of a certain level. I apparently was wrong.
I have often told people that when I decided to follow this path I said that I was going to be the best. This does not mean the best that I can be, but the absolute best. I still hold onto this sentiment, but it is not out of arrogance. It is confidence in myself, my work ethic and my passion. There are generally only a small percentage of activities that people are truly passionate about. For me these things number three: my faith, my voice and languages. If a person can focus more on their passions and less on the pursuit of money then they will ultimately find the money anyways. The people who succeed are the ones who are passionate about what they do. Those who fail are the ones who simply ride talent or go for the profession that is going to make them the most money. My urge to you, reader, is to take the time to figure out what you are passionate about, and then pursue that haphazardly and unabashedly. If you do this I can guarantee you success in whatever you are called to do.