I have just finished reading The Garrick Year by Margaret Drabble and this statement by narcissistic actor David rang particularly true:
“I do not look… Who went before me, nor who shall follow me. No, at myself I will begin and end.”
During training, it is all too easy to fall into a trap of constant comparison against others. Day by day, we work and learn alongside one another, and thus we progress together - in tandem. Or so you would assume.
However, it is our failure to do this that makes us so gloriously human. One of the most important lessons that I am learning at Guildhall, is that I have nobody to compare my progress against except myself. I am probably the only person on the planet to have studied with Diana, Paul, Julie, Ryland and Gary - my singing teachers - in that order, each for a specific length of time at a specific stage in my life. And probably not many people have been influenced by exactly the same performances and recordings that have left their mark on me. Indeed, how many singers at Guildhall have had my education, musical or otherwise? The answer is not very many. So, how can I expect to progress at the same rate as any other person, when each of us has such an individual history, learning style and set of influences?
This isn’t a matter of making excuses for my short-fallings - another easy mistake to make - rather it is a matter of rationalising and celebrating our individuality. Whilst it is important to learn from the great performers of the past, and equally to admire the talent of your peers - none of us has a true likeness in this profession against whom we can compare ourselves.
I do not yet boast the self-assurance of David Evans and so for now I will take the quote and stick it on my bathroom mirror. And of course, on my blog, where I hope it may be of some help to others.