Don't Save Your Thanks for the Acceptance Speech
Wouldn't it be awesome to stand up in front of thousands of people in a packed hall and give an amazing speech saying thank you to everyone who has affected your life and career? And for it to be televised? And then jet off to your next destination, ready to take the stage, film the scene, give the next lecture.
That would be SO COOL.
Just like it would be SO COOL to win a big award like a Grammy. And then people start calling YOU.
That would be so awesome.
And it most surely is so awesome to be one of "those people" who gets to stand up there in a designer gown, hair coiffed, wearing jewelry so expensive it requires its own security team...
...it's an awesome dream. Dreams keep us fueled, dreams keep us motivated, dreams are what we strive for.
Sometimes we see glimpses of dreams in our work, and we find they are anything but dreamy--they are hard-core, standing-right-in-front-of-you, on-the-screen-right-there, honest-to-goodness dreams-come-true.
So say thank you right away. Look that person straight in the eye and say thank you. Some people won't accept it, some people will feel self-conscious about it, some people will feel a bit silly that you took the time to give them your thanks. Do it anyway.
Some people won't give you a chance to say thank you--they will give you a huge compliment and then turn and walk away--and it's ok. Think of them, write out what they told you and put it up where you will see it. Remember them.
So few singers will ever "make it" into the "big career," and have the chance to give that speech. The tear-jerking, Adrian Brody-style "I'm only ever going to get to do this right now," Fred Rogers-like genuine exercise in gratitude.
So just do it now.
In the spirit of Thanks-giving and in the determined decision to walk my walk:
Firstly, thank you to my family for your enduring support. And for teaching me cribbage. And poker. (These come in handy.) :) So do all the stories we tell.
Thank you to my friends for your enthusiasm, your excitement, your caring, the way you incite courage in me. It is an honor to call you my tribe.
Thank you to the churches, the organizations, the schools, the parents, the businesses with whom I work on a daily basis. Nothing can take the place of genuinely good working relationships and the sheer effort it takes to create lesson space, to make a concert series happen, and to make sure everything happens.
To my students: It is an honor to be your teacher. There is no other way of putting it: you are all unique, wonderful human beings and I get to see you undertake the creative, physical, musical and emotional process of making music once a week for weeks on end. One of my students recently called me "The Moral Voice Teacher," as she found she goes home every week with a moral or a lesson learned. I was quite surprised when she told me this, and then I realized I really do want every single one of my students to take a morsel of human knowledge with them every time they leave a lesson. And this student helped me see that I do this because I cherish my students and the opportunity to work with them. I do not take this for granted.
To my students' parents: You are rockstars in an age of over-busy, over-scheduled, demanding tasks and time, yet you still get your kids to lessons on-time, ensure they are practicing, you communicate clearly, and follow-up when you have questions. You respect the payment and cancellation policies, which helps me do business well. You ask your questions and make sure your kids understand what needs to be done. Awesome. Well done! And thank you.
To the conductors and artistic directors: Thank you from the very bottom of my heart. It is because of you that I am working in this industry, that we can make such beautiful music, and that we can make long-term plans for success to ensure this part of our culture stays alive, relevant, and part of the human experience. We make history every time we make this music.
Related, and just as important: Thank you to the National Domestic Violence Hotline and for the Violence Against Women Act, both of which enabled me to leave an abusive marriage and to start recovering. Without them, my life story could be very different, but it isn't. To my fellow survivors: you are an inspiration. Some of you share your stories, some of you don't. Remember it is always your choice. I am grateful--so very, very grateful--to know that you are there, whether we know each other or not.
Lastly, to the audiences, the listeners, the concert-goers, the download-buyers, the blog-readers, the tweeters, the commenters, the newsletter-readers, the hosts: You're simply amazing. I'm blown away by the stories you tell of how music has touched you, why you love music, how music is a part of your life and what it means to you to listen to the music I make. You've told me stories of your parents making music, the teachers that have touched your lives, you've told me how deeply music has moved you, you've shown the tears as a result of music stirring your heart--each story and comment is a gift that I cherish because you have shown me a part of your soul.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is an honor. I wish you a happy, safe, warm, well-fed Thanksgiving; may you know no end to the blessings in your life, and may you bless others selflessly, that they might know the same.
Amen. And a lot of woman.
In Deepest Gratitude,
This post was inspired by the lasting impressions and experiences from last weekend's concerts of Les Nuits d'été (Summer Nights) in Chisholm, and Virginia, MN with the Mesabi Symphony Orchestra. From the gems of auditoriums in which we performed to the stories from audience members to the generosity of my hosts and simple conversations in passing, it was a dream-come-true kind of weekend. Forget the "big career." It's all about the big experiences.