Since I graduated from York in 2012, I have been focusing a lot in the community – workshop participants, mentees, peers, coordinators, bosses, other people – most importantly, excluding myself.
I always tell myself, being a community artist, the artist is a part of the community too. That’s why I like to work with newcomers and women – I identify with them, and hopefully they identify with me too. We talk about things that affect us, and we sing them.
When students asked me to sing, I was always not sure what kind of sound I should sing…
Should I sing pop?
Should I sing jazz?
Should I sing something pop-ish?
Should I showcase my “techniques”?
Should I be improvising?
Should I sing what I feel?
Being an improv vocalist with a background in jazz (and Asian pop for the longest time) and an interest in indie music , as well as someone working with the community, I started to lose my own artistic sense. I always tell my students everyone has a great voice, I guide them to find their own voice, I do activities that encourage them to express themselves…Then I closed myself up, because there were moments when I opened up and tried to improvise and really expressed myself, nobody understood me.
I forgot that doing community work includes effective debrief…
…which takes time, be it 2 minutes extra.
I am glad that I didn’t realize this too late. I am still learning, always learning from everyone around me. But I need to be proud of who I am, just like how I expect my mentees/students to be proud of themselves.
I can be humble, but I would like people to know that I am proud, intelligent, and have great artistic and musical knowledge.
I sing. I know music theory. I play the piano. I write songs. I compose. I know how to make music using a computer. I have a music degree. I was good in science and academic. I make mistakes. I learn. I like to share knowledge with people. I like to be in a circle with my workshop participants, be with them, sing with them.
Time to make more music. All these processes (and people) shaped me, and I (with people) shape future processes.