July 15, 2014

Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield

If you are singer without a technique, a stage-director without a stage, or a voice teacher with a book you keep telling everyone you are writing but never do, then this book is for you. 

Turning Pro is Pressfield's sequel to The War of Art, another excellent book which deals with creativity and the life of the artist. His no shit approach, if you will excuse the expression, is as bracing as it is inspiring, one which Pressfield has lived to the hilt, at once fearfully losing his inner compass and crashing and burning, before learning how to deal with a kaleidoscope of resistance

This is a book for the sex, alcohol, relationship and Facebook addict, kid and mature adult with unrealized dreams and ambition, as well as the mom in the suburbs with big plans and too little action. It lays bare excuses and rationalizations, pulls wool from eyes, kicks butt, and shows the reader why and how the work that wants to get done is killed in the crib. 

Oh yes, singing teacher colleagues and students, I thought of you when I turned to page 99 and read the following: 

The Professional Does Not Give His Power Away To Others
The dictionary defines "icon" as an article (a relic say, that once belonged to a saint or a holy man) that serves as an object of worship.  
A person can be an icon. 
When we make someone into an icon, we give away our power. We say to ourselves (unconsciously), "This person possesses a quality I wish I possessed. Therefore I will worship this person in the hope that that quality will wear off on me, or I will acquire that quality by virtue of my proximity to this mentor/sensie/love/teacher/her."
In my experience, when we project a quality or virtue onto another human being, we ourselves almost always already possess that quality, but we're afraid to embrace (and to live) that truth. 
The amateur is an acolyte, a groupie. The professional may seek instruction or wisdom from one who is further along in mastery than he, but he does so without surrendering his self-sovereignty.

No kidding. I thought. That's what we do with fact-based vocal pedagogy, the writings of García and Lamperti, and the god-almighty voice teacher with the string of letters behind the name. We give them all power, status and importance, teach and take our lessons, and never get around to our real work.

This was an eye-opener too (mind the French):

The Tribe Doesn't Give A Shit
The amateur dreads becoming who she really is because she fears that this new person will be judged by others as "different." The tribe will declare us "weird" or "queer" or "crazy." The tribe will reject us.
Here's the truth: the tribe doesn't give a shit.
There is no tribe.
That gang or posse that we imagine is sustaining us by the bonds that we share is in fact a conglomeration of individuals who are just as fucked up as we are and just as terrified. Each individual is so caught up in his own bullshit that he doesn't have two seconds to worry about yours or mine, or to reject or diminish us because of it. 
When we truly understand that the tribe doesn't give a damn, we're free. There's no tribe and there never was.
Our lives are entirely up to us.  

Want to turn pro? Get off your ass and really do something? Publish and create instead of posturing to your colleagues via your twitter account? This is the book for you. There is a great deal of good in it. Get it, give it, and get with it. 

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