by Akemi Takahashi
I appreciated this chapter especially because I found myself identifying with more than one of the “tiers.” For me personally, singing could never fall into the first tier, or “meh, not that big of a deal.” So, I was surprised to find that I agreed with the points. Nancy gives examples of people who have come through her studio not because they want singing to be the center of their lives, but because they wish to use it as a tool to enrich their lives…and it works! Skills learned in singing can transfer over into virtually anything – I’ve seen it transform lives, including mine.
I see a lot of the next level, “one of the many life skills I’d like to learn” in my choir class. I find this group of people to be so inspiring. At the beginning of the school year, my high school choir receives a ton of new singers. They start off so shy, often following mistakes with the words, “ugh sorry, I can’t sing, I can’t sing.” Throughout the year they are encouraged by classmates, all the while picking up skills and practicing them daily. By the end of the year they are stronger singers and people.
“Important to me, my family, and community” is a fun, relaxed place to be for the singer that wants to take their singing to the next level. After I got over my stage fright when I was 10, I couldn’t get enough of performing in front of people…I know, such a little diva! On top of private lessons, I was involved in my school choirs and community theatre. It was during this time that I made some of my best friends and some of my best memories. I view these years as a time of preparation- working to make singing the center of my life.
For me, the “Really-really important to me-singing will be a part of my whole life” tier was a crucial part of my singing journey and I’m so glad this book addresses it. This level involved making sacrifices and working my other activities around singing, rather than working singing around my other activities. For me, this meant quitting soccer. This was such a hard decision to make because I loved both activities and had some amazing friends on my team. But I thought, which will bring me more joy in the long term? Soccer or singing? And when I thought of it that way, the answer came to me easily. I can go weeks without feeling the need to go out and kick around a ball, but I can’t go a day without feeling the need to sing.
Nancy describes the final tier beautifully: “Sing or Die!” Almost every professional in the singing industry falls under this category, and they’ll tell you that singing makes every bit of struggle worth it. This industry is a hard one, and it takes a lot to succeed. It’s the unwavering dedication and passion for their craft that makes professionals in the singing industry so inspiring. I think that’s part of why people pursue careers in singing in the first place. Witnessing greatness makes you want to achieve it yourself.