How often do you step out of your comfort zone?
We ask our singers to do it all the time. New singers are worried their voice isn't good enough to fit in. Most singers are nervous before they perform. We encourage quiet kids to raise their hands to answer questions. Some of our singers' voices change and drop far faster than anticipated!
Mistakes are scary, change is uncomfortable, and stage fright is common.
My first reaction is to assuage that fear. I tell them that chorus is the perfect place for shy singers to find their way because they're not alone. I remind them that even Beyonce and Taylor Swift get nervous to perform; it's only human. They tend to be...skeptical of my counsel.
Of course, I get to watch our kids reach the other side of that fear. I see them learn to sing out, form friendships and find their way. That sense of pride and accomplishment from a performance well done is invaluable. It sticks with them long after they've sung their last note with BYC.
Case in point: MasterSingers pushed past their inhibitions in their first rehearsal, and they sounded fantastic on the first piece they learned.
If the zone beyond our comfort is where the magic lies, we should go there more often.
As their teachers, we take risks alongside them. Each rehearsal, we try new activities, games and techniques to help them grow. This year, we are hosting visits from guest artists and other choirs, taking the MasterSingers on a trip to Philly, and planning even more performance opportunities than before. Our singers will perform for meandering museum goers, fundraiser attendees, peers, hockey game-goers.... they'll see it all.
I must admit—these new plans push me beyond my comfort zone too sometimes. I worry whether I've properly prepared our singers for success. But just like our singers, I can grow by leaning into that discomfort. It's worth it on the other side.
Each leap of faith is a step toward true growth, as musicians, artists and community members. I'm proud of our singers for their courage, resilience, and most of all, their unrelenting kindness toward each other. It's much easier to be uncomfortable when you find solace in each other.