A Marriage of Sorts

Hi folks!

Today we have the first of our guest post series by a dear friend, Claire Kuttler.  Some thoughts on her passion: making beautiful music.

I am an opera singer. To most people, this sounds quite glamourous, but at its heart, it has little to do with glamour. Though unmarried, I would liken it to a committed lifetime partnership. You and your voice. Inexplicably entwined. Physically, emotionally, mentally, psychologically, spiritually. If it ends in -ally it's probably involved. Your voice is always there taking the ride with you. Day in and day out. In sickness and in health. When you have work and when you don't. On the days you feel like Leontyne Price and the days you feel more like Tom Waits (Much respect to Tom, but for a soprano, this can be a dire situation.) There is no divorce. Disengagement perhaps, but you can never quite escape the magnificent or maniacal little instrument inside you once you have started down this path. 

To the wonderful American soprano, Beverly Sills, a fan once gushed, "I would give my life to sing like you!" She paused, flashed a wry smile and replied, "I did." When I heard this little anecdote from opera lore, I immediately thought, "Yes. That's what it's like." Commitment. For a lifetime. And when you're young and trying to "make it" in a competitive market, the moments of struggle, self doubt, rejection and heartbreak can weigh you down. You sit in little rooms, alone, practicing mostly for auditions. Hoping and wishing and praying and worrying and singing all the while. Glamour it is not. 
This weekend I had the pleasure and privilege to sing an amazing piece of music (the soprano solo in the Brahms' Requiem) with full orchestra and chorus. Singing with an orchestra is among the most fulfilling experiences of my job, and when it's in a space that's big and open, a space that allows for my voice to reach out and travel, it is a great blessing. When I came home from the orchestra dress rehearsal the night before the concert, invigorated I thought, now I know why I spend the majority of my days sitting in little rooms, all alone, going crazy over some phrase. Banging my head against a wall, or rather my voice against four walls who all too often seem unforgiving and unkind. I do it for this.
If I didn't show up with my voice every day to what is essentially my mat, I would never get to experience the warmth of connection with the many musicians who are the functioning organs of the symphonic body, nor with our audience, nor with the music. I would not be ready. Wouldn't be capable. Wouldn't even be heard. Without the practice, without my time spent on the mat, prostrate, engaging just a little deeper, trying to stay open and curious to what my voice has to offer each day, I would never know the joy that is possible when I leave my little place of practice and carry those moments out into my life.
I can count the number of opportunities I have performed with orchestra this past year on one hand, but without the uncountable moments and notes sung in between, how could I have had even one of the glorious peaks?
Our moments are the building blocks that make up our lives, and our most meaningful and joyful experiences can only become available to us from the daily details.  Whether it is your practice of yoga, of vocalises, of making time and space to breathe or of commitment to your life partner and your children, come and offer yourself. Each moment lived is a contribution. You will find that the glamour and glory and joy comes from all the moments in between.
Claire Kuttler is a singer and teacher in New York City. To listen or learn more you can find her at www.clairekuttler.com.