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The art of the pivot

I started a blog draft last month with a working title “Are we back?” After a busy September- December of live, in person performances (you can read about a few of those here, here, and here), I thought *maybe* things were going to continue this way.

January 2022 was… not a continuation of the Sept-Dec “WE ARE BACK” vibes.

January started off strong with a National Opera Association conference in St. Augustine, Florida. It was so fantastic to see old friends and meet new ones. I love NOA for many reasons, but at the top of my list is NOA's advocacy and support for staged music drama and the educational process of this art. I was honored to be elected to the NOA board during this conference.

After NOA, things took a turn. Everyone in my immediate family came down with COVID in January. We held out for so long, but omicron got us. Despite a week of congestion, coughing, and fatigue, we weathered the storm. Unfortunately, I had to miss commitments that were made 8+ months ago.

The gig life of a musician is challenging. Putting together an income from various streams as a contractor is great until you have to cancel or your constituent cancels. The loss of planned income can cast a large or small burden for performing artists. I'm really fortunate to have a salaried music job (Associate Professor of Music), and to also have several contractor jobs.

One of the January events I did not get to complete was the SWICDA “Get In Treble” 7-12 grades soprano/alto choir festival. I was so looking forward to connecting with the 380 participants. Thanks to technology, I was able to make a few videos for the festival. Some connection is better than no connection.

There were a lot of other January pivots— a canceled show choir judging, a canceled school visit, a delayed recital, and University canceled events for January.

So, in fact, we are not back. But we know how to pivot.

I'm thinking about how we pivot in music and in life. I remember a specific "pivot" moment that happened onstage some years ago. I was playing the role of Cherubino in a production of The Marriage of Figaro. At the beginning of a very quick duet (Aprite, presto aprite) I noticed that we were not quite in sync with the orchestra. It was one of those scary moments where you realize everything can fall apart very quickly. My pivot kicked in. I started bouncing across the stage in tempo (and in character, of course!) to try and get us back together. It worked.

(I somehow found all of these pictures on my computer of this production. Michigan State Opera Theatre's production of The Marriage of Figaro circa 2008)

Pivoting can be exhilarating and it can also be exhausting. Educators and performers continue to pivot without much reprise from March 2020. Take care of yourselves and take care of others!

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