On a beautiful Florida Sunday afternoon my wife, Tammy, and I had the opportunity to hear a vocal recital. It was at the quaint Rollins College and presented by, Emily Walton, a singer we know who has a beautiful mezzo-soprano voice. The program included Rossini, Saint-Saens, Brahms, and Copland. Songs were sung in Italian, French, and English. The pianist who accompanied her was exquisite. The enthusiastic crowd was mightily impressed with the singer, as well they should have been.
As I sat and listened to the recital, there were three things about this singer and her performance that were interesting takeaways regarding creative pursuits. Creativity comes in all shapes and sizes. One genre of creativity can bring influence to another. A singer can teach a painter, who can teach a writer, who can teach a guitarist various things about creating good art.
Here’s what I learned from listening to Emily:
- Sometimes creativity takes hard work. In order to carry out this recital, Emily had to put together program notes for each of the composers and songs. She had to translate the words of the pieces that were not in English. Most of all, her performance was the fruition of many, many countless hours of practice and rehearsal. She had to work on her form. She had to work on her diction. She had to work on her interpretation. She had to work on stage presence. It all came together in an incredible performance that drew me in completely as she sang each piece. The hard work was worth it.
- Sometimes creativity takes a team. Emily could not have done this recital alone. It began, I’m sure, when her parents got her voice lessons long ago. She had to take classes in music history from professors who knew the content. She leaned on and listened to voice teachers and vocal coaches who helped her develop her voice. She needed a piano player to accompany her with skill and precision. She even needed a stage hand to open the piano between sets and put into place some simple props. The team Emily built helped her create a flawless performance.
- Sometimes creativity needs to be stretched. Emily didn’t start out singing Rossini and Saint-Saens. She didn’t start out singing in Italian and French. She grew into those pieces as she learned and grew as a singer. And yet, this Senior Recital was also a stepping stone for her. Emily’s plan is to head to graduate school for Vocal Performance. She has already been accepted into every program for which she auditioned. She knows that she can’t stand on her laurels. She has to take more steps forward in order to improve. She is willing to be stretched.
- Creativity always deserves to be celebrated. Following the recital Emily’s sorority sisters formed a circle around her in the lobby of the concert hall and sang a song celebrating the gift of music. They all belong to a music sorority and were, at that moment, celebrating one of their sisters who had passed with flying colors a major accomplishment. Emily’s parents, boyfriend, and boyfriend’s parents, as well as many other friends and relatives, were present to celebrate this great day. They all brought flowers, chocolates, and even went to dinner afterwards to laud the event.
So what does this mean for your creativity?
- Don’t be afraid to do the work. Don’t give up, even when it seems like no one is paying attention to your art. Work on nights and weekends. Work behind the scenes. Put one foot in front of the other and one day after the next.
- Don’t be afraid to build a team. Ask others for help. Hire coaches and teachers. Be brave enough to take on constructive criticism. It will bring great benefit to all that you hope to accomplish.
- Don’t be afraid to stretch yourself. If you’ve only written a blog, take on the writing of a book. If you’ve only sung in English, take on pieces in other languages. If you’ve only photographed in color, take on some black and white or night photography. Stretch yourself.
- Don’t forget to celebrate. Even small accomplishments deserve to be celebrated. Go ahead, eat that bowl of ice cream or eat that piece of cake when you reach a goal or match a milestone. Celebration is a great motivator.
What have you learned about creativity by watching other creatives?