Under, Over, Around and Through

Many people give up too easily on their dreams. Don’t!!!

If something is important to you, if you have a dream, if you have a talent that demands development, then you MUST PURSUE IT any way you can going under, over, around and through whatever obstacles or challenges are presented. Only in that way will you satisfy the deep, inner calling of your heart.

When I first entered college, I wanted to have a dual major of music and social science. These dual interests were apparent from early childhood. Like the “Lucy” Peanut cartoon strip character, I was giving out my two cents of advice to playmates starting at age 4. But at the same time I also fantasized musical numbers and would sing and dance for whoever came into the house. I was fantasizing Gene Kelly and Judy Garland song and dance routines. I was in church choir, school orchestra and band, every talent show, and later in All State Chorus. My vocal talent was recognized very early by professional classical singers including two former Metropolitan Opera soloists.

However, my college felt that music was too all encompassing and I needed to make it both my major and minor or not at all. I picked music with voice being my major. My mother was aghast thinking it would lead to couch auditions and an immoral lifestyle. I was told that I would be disowned and cast out of the family, Even after an interview with Metropolitan Opera star and head of the Voice Department who tried to intervene on my behalf was unable to dislodge my parents adamant refusal.

As I lacked the courage to venture completely out on my own, and more importantly, did not want to cut all ties with my family, I majored in social sciences instead. But both while in school, and after graduating, I took private lessons as money would allow, went to the library to check out opera recordings while following along with the score and librettos, went to concerts, and sang in churches that put on oratorios and even was Mezzo-Soprano soloist for Handel’s Messiah while in college.

The turning point came when as a young woman and living in Boston my husband went to speak with Re Koster, the head of the voice department at New England Conservatory of Music. He convinced her to listen to me and if satisfactory, accept me as a private student, something she had always refused before. However, she did take me, and within 6 months of this Dutch mezzo’s tutelage, I had learned all of the mezzo solos in the oratorio repertory, and most of the Bach cantatas as well. This I did while holding my infant son in my arms during my lessons. Soon after she retired and moved leaving me to go on to another teacher. I then also talked my way into being able to audit music theory classes at Boston University even though I was only enrolled for voice lessons. 

Not having a piano of my own, I rented time on a neighbor’s to learn my music. Again, I would hold my infant on my lap while playing the music with one hand. Then I talked my way into ushering for the Metropolitan Opera performances when they visited Boston. Such opportunity was only open to New England Conservatory students, but I signed up anyway. Then before each performance, I went up to the soloists and musicians and interviewed them, the famous bass Justino Diaz being one of them. I actually met the orchestra leaders that later hired me as Executive Secretary for the Met years later, and some of the musicians for whom I later worked. 

While living in Boston, I then auditioned for and was accepted into an all professional choir that put on Bach cantatas with professional orchestra every Sunday. While I was not good enough to be paid as were the others, they did pay for my babysitting. My son, now a toddler, was enrolled in the church nursery, and went with me to all the rehearsals where he crawled under the chairs of the musicians when he got away from the nursery. During one church service, the congregation was startled with the two gigantic wooded doors at the rear of the sanctuary banging open, and one little guy striding very triumphantly up the aisle to come visit me in the choir stalls up front.

When the family moved to Portland, Maine, I enrolled as a voice major at University of Maine, and joined a major choral society. Again, I ushered when Boston Opera came to town taking my young son with me to pass out programs in the balcony. I took him backstage with me to meet some of the singers. My voice teacher decided that I needed more professional training than he could provide and so we drove together from Portland down to Boston regularly for us both to study with a prominent voice teacher there. My voice lessons represented half of my food budget for the week. When I could not continue to afford to pay for membership in the choral society, an anonymous donor came along and paid it for me.

I auditioned for the professional choir in the episcopal cathedral Portland, and while not paid, was able to get free piano lessons from the Director.

When the family moved again, this time back to New Jersey, I was determined to get ANY job that I could at the Metropolitan Opera. I was willing to scrub toilets. So I made the rounds of all the employment agencies in Manhattan each time asking for a job at the Met. The answer was always the same – no openings. Finally, I took the bull by the reins and went to the stage door and inquired of the personnel department. The woman on the house phone asked if I took short hand. When I replied ‘no”, she hung up the phone.

So, I was determined to find a way to be able to take dictation. I found that my old high school was giving a summer course on ‘speed writing’. I took it, and soon after was hired as Executive Secretary to the Orchestra Manager at the Met!!! This gave me free rein to walk backstage, visit the various departments where they make and manage everything – wigs, costumes, sets, staging, and more. I was able to hear all the rehearsals over the loud speakers while working, and get free standing room passes to performances, and free dress rehearsal tickets for my family. This allowed me to educate my parents into the magical world of opera and give my son exposure to it as well.

I found a voice teacher across the street from Lincoln Center, and on lunch hours if there were no rehearsals taking place in house, and after work, I would sit and listen to other people’s voice lessons. This gave me a fantastic musical education. I also took yoga and exercise classes, language classes, acting lessons, and speed reading. 

I then auditioned for and was accepted into Aspen Music Festival Chamber Choir. As the Met orchestra was off in the summer and the house operated on skeleton crew, it was possible for me to do this. Aspen provided housing for singles or money for housing for me since the dorms would not take my son. So my son from 8 to 10 years old, traveled with me and was enrolled in day camp while I rehearsed. Then he came with me to all performances. During one year, I wrote to all the churches in town inquiring about a cheap place to stay in this very expensive resort town. We got a room in exchange for me cleaning. Another year, we drove out and lived in a VW bus. Again, as being able to find a place to park legally at night was a hassle, I asked the churches around, and found one that would allow me to do so. I sang there for 3 seasons.

49897687_782012838813911_6915629389375864832_nWith this background, I was able to secure work as a professional singer in Manhattan, join the union, and work not just as now a church and temple soloist, and privately sing for weddings and funerals, but singing with recognized national and international groups such as Joffrey Ballet, NYC Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Netherlands Ballet, NJ Opera, Ars Musica,  Clarion Musical Society, Friends of French Opera, and more. This also meant that I had to quit my secretarial job at the Met, but then got into NYC Opera Chorus, first part-time, then full-time, then part-time again for a total of ten years. I taught private voice students as well and wrote a small primer on vocal technique. I also started and ran a weekly Women in the Arts support group at my alma mater at Montclair State University.

Reality sets in

I had worked very hard against tremendous odds and had achieved a lot in a very difficult field. But I also had a son that I needed to support. NYC Opera went on strike three times in ten years and I scrambled to make the rent with temporary work as a secretary. I was consistently stressed for money – not just for the rent, etc., but to pay for the necessity of continual voice lessons and coaching lessons if I was going to make it as a soloist and not just remain as a union chorister. I had problems with high notes, problems in memorizing, problems with foreign languages, and problems with the politics of music.

The icing on the cake was tearing the cartilage connecting my sternum to my ribs. This happened within two weeks of starting to date someone new. This man represented the choice between potentially having a happy, ‘normal’ family life or living on the road as a singer after dropping my son off with my parents. The injury indicated that I was literally torn in two between two conflicting goals. My subconscious had cast the die and chose marriage and family. 

Even after I was sufficiently healed to be able to get in and out of bed on my own, and get up and off the floor onstage, I was nolonger able to breathe as I once was, and this not only ended my ambitions for a solo career but any likelihood in being hired as a permanent chorister in the only classical singing job in the nation that provided financial stability – the Metropolitan Opera. 

So unwilling to only be a part-time chorister with the precariousness that that entailed, and during a music union strike in 1989, I trained in hypnosis, a second interest. And I immediately started lecturing, teaching self-hypnosis, and seeing clients as time allowed between my singing jobs. 

But then I came to a point of decision.

Eventually, the schedule became too difficult to straddle both fields, and I had to choose.  Considering the real limits I now faced in music in addition to family responsibilities, I decided to venture out on my own as a hypnotherapist and be in charge of my schedule without a limit on what I could accomplish in using my voice to uplift, inspire and heal (my chief aim that was underneath both desires to work in music and hypnosis). Again, I went after my new profession just as vigorously as I had with music.

Since that time I have been a regular presenter at many hypnosis and dowsing conventions yearly, have written ten books, received six national hypnosis awards including two lifetime achievement awards, and one in dowsing. I host two national teleconferences for the American Society of Dowsers, I sit on the Board of Directors for two national organizations, and have been on the Board of others, founded and run a local dowsing group,  founded and used to run a local professional hypnotherapy organization for many years, set up speakers and wrote a newsletter for another hypnosis chapter, and have trained many people – professional and layman alike – in hypnosis, stress management, dowsing, and Reiki.

Do I regret all the time and energy pursuing a field that I later left? Absolutely not! 

I had amazing experiences that few others have had. I have been part of creating glorious moments in musical history that transported those in the audience as well as the performers to spiritual heights that only heavenly music can do. I went after my dreams and tested my limits in a very challenging field, achieving a certain level of success that was profoundly satisfying. 

So what is my point?

  • If something is important to you, if you have a passion to do something or a big enough why, you can overcome tremendous odds and achieve a significant amount of success. 
  • Regardless of the outward worldly recognition you are able to achieve, relentlessly going after the inner calling of your heart will bring enormous satisfaction to your soul. You would have answered your calling.
  • If you can’t go through normal channels to reach your goal, you have to get creative and find another way. 
  • If one door is closed to you, you find a window. You go

OVER, UNDER, AROUND or THROUGH!

Copyright 2/3/19 by Roxanne Louise. However, this article may be shared in free online sources only if this copyright notice and link to http://www.roxannelouise.com and http://unlimitedpotentialhealingcenter.com  are included with the content.      

 

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