I was standing on the 9th tee at a golf course. With driver in hand, it was my turn to match the efforts of my three co-workers. The cart path was lined with other employees and customers waiting their turn. When I hit the ball, it went about ten yards right, hit the biggest oak tree you have ever seen and soared into the cattails directly behind us. I remember the owner of the company, shaking his head as he got back in his cart and drove off to the next tee. If only I had continued to play golf after my uncle had given me his used set of golf clubs in my senior year of high school. I should have spent seven days at the range prior to the outing. Obviously, six days just wasn't enough.
I truly enjoy playing golf. Unfortunately, I am not as good as I would like to be. I play once or twice a year and ultimately embarrass myself. I understand why people don't enjoy playing golf with me - my scores are multiples of my age.
Usually once a year, one of my BeckRidge family members will arrange an outing. They know my skill level yet are kind enough to subject me to at least four hours of humiliation.
I can drive the ball pretty well. But, like the blind squirrel who occasionally finds an acorn, I rely on luck for the remaining shots.
I need to be fair to my golfing friends. While they do make a number of comments at my expense and to their shared amusement, they are consistent in offering suggestions and encouragement. John reminds me to keep my head down and remaining yards to the pin. Mike reminds me; John should be presented the Camel card. His last ball landed in the sand trap. While the three competitive golfers might be concerned about their scores and who gets bragging rights for the next year, I feel their real focus is on helping me. When I hit a terrific drive or make a great putt, these guys are my cheering section. I sincerely believe they would like nothing more than to help me shoot a lower score. In fact, they would like to see the day when I could beat them, making it more competitive for them.
I don't like my golf scores but I love those guys. They remind me why I love the performing arts.
I have yet to meet the perfect performer. Fortunately, I don't know a true artist who won't admit they are still working to improve their performance. I am constantly reading the latest book or article about the voice. Often times an author gives me new insight on a situation or problem one of my singers is experiencing. I have been blessed to work with some amazing choral directors. Thank goodness there are still others who have forgotten more than I know and are willing to share their successes and failures.
If you love performing, you will always be your own worst critic. However, the arts don't require us to be perfect. In fact, it is our own unique imperfections that make our "art" stand out from everyone else. Every singing and speaking voice is unique. We work to strengthen our weaknesses and perform to our strengths. We seldom hear ourselves objectively. Just as John recognizes I have a tendency to lift my head when I hit a golf ball. If not for John, I would not know I have that habit.
On the other hand, the arts do require life-long learning. I remind singers there is no magic key. There is no one person who has all the answers. There is no substitute for technique, commitment, hard-work, tenacity and a passion for communicating truth.
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