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Experiment With Your Material

It takes an audacious spirit to move out of the comfort zone, to leave the secure borders of the familiar, and tread on a path unfamiliar and even thorny. It takes a courageous sort to humble oneself by engaging new muscles undiscovered and undeveloped. To grow as a performer, as a creator, as a vibrant being we need to consciously choose the road toward the unknown. Performing an aria in a new foreign language, moving our body in a novel dance form be it hip hop or flamenco, singing in a different genre be it scat singing, an indie hit, or an Irish love ballad – tackling new territory will grow you and serve you more than you can imagine.

When we migrate to this new land with new artistic possibilities, there will be a new artistic language to learn. There will be new jargon to integrate. The words we encounter, the shapes of movement, the unfamiliar rhythms, grooves and harmonies will challenge our minds to expand and make new connections. There is now fertile ground where new ideas and new connections take root. This is the playing field of innovation. This is terra sancta.

You may find it helpful to keep a journal, a log of “I dared to” moments. It need not be tied to music per se. Perhaps you dared to whip up a new gourmet recipe and serve it up for your  guests. Maybe you signed up to run your first 10k, or you enrolled in a salsa class. Perhaps you forced yourself onstage for playback theater even though you’re shy, or tried your hand at writing a sonnet in iambic pentameter. Attending a yoga class for the first time, or joining a silent retreat, or volunteering at a hospital or studying Spanish or starting to crochet or learning how to ride a unicycle –  any new activity that perhaps feels out of your reach – is a great place to begin. You will be amazed by what an experience like this can do for your confidence and your sense of empowerment. The breakthrough experience can quite literally open your mind. When you succeed in conquering your own Mt. Everest (everyone has an “insurmountable Everest”, of one size or another) you will see that you have strengthened an inner muscle that will assist you in conquering new ground as an artist. Not only that, but the journey up your Mt. Everest will supply you with new sensory input and inspiration that will feed your new artistic projects, even if not directly related.

You will gain the courage in your work to take risks, to fall sometimes, with the knowledge that you will rise again stronger, wiser, and more confident than ever. The ability to fail and have faith in your recovery, will allow you to take risks and experiment. And it is through experimentation that genius is cultivated.

So set your goal, journey forth, conquer your mountain, and cultivate your unique genius!

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