“Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” - Joshua J. Marine
How apt that this came up as quote of the day as the most challenging three months of life thus far draw to a close. One term down, eight to go. Apparently it gets better from here.
It would be a lie to say adapting to life at Guildhall has been easy - in truth there has not been a single ‘easy’ day. But that does not mean it has been a negative experience; a steep and intense learning curve, yes, but one that has only highlighted the warmth, kindness and generosity of my friends and colleagues. Every day has brought both challenges and inspiration, often tears and laughter, and sometimes all-consuming frustration. But every day I have learned something new, not just about singing but about myself and other people.
Perhaps the most important lesson learned is that most people want you to be good as much as you want it for yourself. It is no fun being poorly prepared for a class, it is certainly no fun watching a friend be torn to pieces in that situation and I imagine it’s not actually that fun to be the person inflicting the misery. Which brings me onto the next thing…
Music is an art of precision. Musicality may spring from inspired spontaneity, but such magic cannot usually occur without hours of study and practice. 'Winging it’ only gets everyone so far in life, and for me this is the moment where I have to take my wings off for good and do some work. With about twenty different people at Guildhall all driving me to work harder, I don’t have to dig particularly deep to find motivation - rather it is thrown in my face on a daily basis.
And digesting all the criticism is not easy. Whilst manageable in small doses, twelve weeks of seemingly constant attack is more than a little wearing. I have no doubt that I will leave Guildhall with a thicker skin than when I arrived, but there is also a need to filter useful comments from those that are ultimately destructive. Unfortunately these comments sometimes come at an overwhelmingly faster rate than they can be processed.
This segues nicely into my final point - we are all in this together. Very few 'war-wounds’ have been inflicted by my peers, and I thank them for this. At first this surprised me. Arriving at conservatoire I expected hostility and heated competition from classmates - instead I have experienced only kindness and compassion. The truth is, that the only people who know what you are living are the people living it with you. These are the only people by your side every second of the working day, they are the only people going through the same mental battles, and consequently they are often the only people who can find the right words to inspire perseverance.
This is why the highlight of my first term at Guildhall has not been drawing inspiration from watching my wonderful peers, or finding a new physical freedom in movement classes, or even fulfilling a dream I thought impossible at a certain concert hall on a rainy November day. The highlight of my first term at Guildhall was encountering friendship and kindness in the most unexpected of places. Bring on term two.