In my last post, I talked about how saying yes to life allows you to become the hero of your own story, not worrying about the judgment of others because you understand that their life is theirs and your life is yours. I spoke about some amazing experiences I’ve had so far in my long-form improvisational comedy journey, and I promised to talk about the path that led me to musical improv. Well, I’m a firm believer in keeping promises, so let’s dig in, shall we?
First, an anecdote from that first 101 class I took with Marcy Jarreau. I’ll never forget the class where we learned about object work. Basically we were given an action to perform and told to talk about anything other than the action we were performing. Marcy told my scene partner and I to start brushing horses, and I froze. See, I am someone who has a fear of horses, so the miming of the action of brushing a horse was enough to cause me to freeze up. Marcy was wonderful and gave us another action to perform, but that experience has stuck with me ever since. The reason I bring up my thing with horses is because that is a legitimate fear unlike most fears, which are based in ego. I am also happy to say that I took a big step to conquer that fear a couple months ago, which you can read about here. I've had a tendency in my life to run towards things that scare me instead of away from them. I've found that there's a very fine line between fear and fun. The most rewarding and fun experiences I've had in life were all (for the most part) rooted in fear at the beginning. So follow that fear of yours because I bet it'll turn out to be something really fun.
In the Spring of 2016 just before I started working Saturday nights as part of UCB’s Work Study program, I did something I’d always wanted to do. I ignored my ego and inner-fears and signed up for the elective 101 level of Musical Improv (taught by Tara Copeland). I’ve written before about conquering fears, and musical improv was no exception. When I was younger, I sang in front of people all the time at family gatherings, in school choruses, at Teen Arts competitions, and in Church. I also had a habit my whole life of rewriting songs in my head to give them new lyrics and a different twist. Based on those facts and that I’d honed my improv skills enough to be accepted into Advanced Study, Musical Improv seems like it would’ve been a no-brainer, right?
If you’re an actor (or a presentational businessperson), you (for the most part) have already conquered the biggest fear most people have: public speaking. If you can talk in front of people, you can sing in front of people. I like to think of singing as talking- but with the addition of some delicious flavor! That’s why I love people who are unafraid to do karaoke. It doesn’t matter how “good” or “bad” you are. People who do karaoke understand life’s bigger picture; people who are afraid to do karaoke miss the entire point. It’s supposed to be fun.
So when it came time to consider signing up for Musical Improv, I’m extremely grateful I listened to what my soul was telling me instead of listening to my ego because my ego was giving me excuses instead of legitimate reasons.
Your ego gives you excuses because it’s based in a reality dependent on other people’s perceptions. Your soul gives you legitimate reasons because it’s based in a reality of independence and self-reliance. Starve your ego, and feed your soul. When your soul is nourished, magic happens.
And Musical Improv is nothing if not magical. To already take a chaotic world you’re creating as you go, and then heighten the stakes and write a song with rhyming and structure takes total trust in yourself with respect to the teammates playing with and supporting you. There were a lot of external factors in my life in the Spring of 2016 I could have chosen over that Musical Improv 101 class, but when I listened to my soul, I know that any “reasons” I came up with to not take the class were just excuses based on other people’s opinions, perceptions, and projections of their own insecurities within themselves. I’m truly grateful I told my ego to take a backseat so that my soul could take the wheel.
Life is a constant series of never-ending choices. Listening to others’ negativity is just as much a choice as ignoring that negativity. Be steadfast in your decisions (as long as they’re your own) when they’re based on listening to your soul; soul-based decisions are the most impactful. Follow that fear; it usually means something great and exciting is just on the other side.
Listening to myself and not letting others’ negativity affect me led me to be part of an amazing team of talents called “Garage Band,” which I will discuss more in-depth in my next post! And, of course, as always, if you have any pressing questions or if you want to discuss something further, feel free to subscribe below or reach out to me on the “contact” page. I’m here for you!