When I used to sing recitals, people would usually congratulate me afterwards by saying things like:
“You are so lucky to have been blessed with such a beautiful voice!”
“You are so talented!”
“It’s so effortless for you – you’re lucky!”
Hmmmm. As a young woman I felt as if no one had any appreciation for the amount of work I’d had to do to make it seem effortless – or the hours of daily practising I had to do to have my voice sound its best. Not to mention of course the expense of getting a music degree and about 16 years of voice lessons.
And performing was always very difficult for me – with nervousness, and the technical and artistic demands I put on myself as a singer. Even after all the practising, it was never, ever effortless.
So it took a number of years for me to get past being misunderstood, and to start understanding that these folks were inadvertently paying me exactly the sort of compliments I was looking for. They were hearing only the voice I’d wanted them to hear. My diligent artistic practising was apparently masking the artistry – and it seemed to them that all they were seeing and hearing was the raw talent.
These days I get the same sort of comments about my choirs – especially my women’s chorus. Things like:
“You’re so lucky to be able to attract such great singers!”
“That was such a great, peppy song – and it was terrific to see that the women were enjoying themselves so much!”
I have found that great chorus singers are built, not attracted. And I know exactly how much work has to be done on synchronization, legato, chord locking, choreography and presentation so that an uptune appears peppy and fun.
So I don’t explain (except here in this post) – and I smile broadly, thank them, and tell them that yes, I’m a very lucky director!