It’s been an odd few months here at Community Choir Towers…. Lots has changed, and that’s putting it mildly.
The short version:
I am in the process of getting divorced. I’m over the worst of the grief and concentrating on moving forwards. My name is changing from Annie Walker to Annie Griffith as from now.
Lost two dear family members in a very short period of time.
Put house on market whilst still unfinished, whilst trying to convince ex to finish it.
Lots of financial stress.
Lots of legal stress.
Lots of health stress.
Just… well… stressed really.
My life has resembled nothing so much as a Jeremy Kyle show recently, and not one of those heartwarming reunion ones, either. However, I’m finding that amidst all the chaos, worry and stress, I am starting to get a big chunk of creativity coming back. For a long while singing has been restricted to choral things, and I’ve lost some of the pure creativity I’ve always found in music. Waking up with a desire to write songs, practice musical instruments and record is a wonderful, wonderful thing. I am also helped by people giving me lyrics to set to music.
There’s this thing when you’re stressed that makes you close down areas of creativity and enjoyment. We don’t want to go out and see people we love even though we KNOW that it will make us feel better. The same with creativity. It is often the first thing to go when we feel under pressure, but it is exactly the thing that we need to help us express ourselves and get our feelings out where we can examine them.
Singing with a choir is wonderful, and I would encourage your next step to be looking at singing other things. What kind of music do you enjoy? Americana? Opera? Folk? Whatever it is, find a song, look for a Youtube backing track (you’ll be surprised how much there is out there for free) and start singing. Experiment with your voice when you are alone. Permit yourself to make mistakes. Don’t feel that you have to sing it exactly the same way as the original artist. Try some different things.
If you would like to get into a bit more creativity, I really, REALLY recommend buying Julia Cameron’s “The Artists’ Way” as a gentle way of discovering your own creativity. Allow yourself permission to play with creativity in the same way that you did when you were a child – not worrying about whether you were good enough, but just having fun trying things out. Try music, try writing, try knitting, try drawing, try sculpting. Don’t look for what you are best at, but for what you enjoy the most. And do more of it. Much more. Your singing will benefit, and so will your mental health and joie d’vivre.
If you’re in the mood for something inspirational, I cannot recommend this talk by Neil Gaiman enough. He is one of my favourite authors and favourite people. What he has to say is inspiring, motivational and necessary for everyone to hear.