January 2023

1st Violin

Claudine Jones | Scene4 Magazin

Claudine Jones

"a performance that truly matters"
(dance billboard off the freeway)

So I missed my narc zoom tonight. I had been thinking about it and had it on my calendar but cruised straight through. It was 7:30 before I remembered, so too late.

It's all about narcissism. I really enjoy the person who is facilitating. She has a way of diffusing potential time wasters, both people and subjects, in the gentlest way. Very impressive. That's the good news.

The bad news is I jumped into it and then discovered that I'm pretty much the only person not dealing with present narcissists. My narcissist is gone. My mother is gone. I'm not actively swiping. The chances of me randomly somehow getting involved with a man or a woman for that matter who is involved in my life in the way these younger people have experienced it? That ship has sailed.

From my exalted position as a baby boomer what do I have to offer? The terminology is familiar of course. Gas lighting and endless conflict and guilting. I believe the point that I was trying to make when I did briefly speak was that I have many decades of subterranean hardwiring to undo or more precisely to attempt to undo.

And since I'm presently in a day-to-day journey it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to go all the way back to the 50s in search of something. Actually doesn't make any sense at all to tell those stories because the more I'm invested in the business of resuscitating them the less oxygen I have for me.

Perhaps my contribution is one of lived real world confirmation of how joyful it can be to be liberated from a narcissist. To taste really hard won freedom. To have it be true.

Walking down the street a couple of days ago ticking off the short list of potential choral groups that I could join. Mentally going through the pros and cons.

#1 would obviously be to go back with our previous director where he runs the church choir, since I like him and he likes me, but that would require a lot of driving.

#2 again somebody I respect and like but whose choral group is gasping for air as we speak.

#3 would be another church group, close by but that would require Sunday mornings of course. I'm not sure I want to give up my Sunday mornings unless I go with #1 because it's familiar and it's the only option. And I forgot also the possibility of number one opening up some travel opportunities as well.

#4 was recommended by a colleague I respect, however I have a feeling that they might not need my voice type and they'll try to talk me into going into the tenor section which I absolutely will not do.

#5 said colleague has himself actually joined for inexplicable reasons a jazz choir. I sorry but I just don't see this guy singing jazz. If you had asked me hey what is R going to go exploring for, I would have said I would expect him to do country and western before I would expect him to do jazz. Perhaps because he appears to be a little tightly wound? They don't really have any openings per se but I thought maybe I would show up for their Christmas show this last weekend and maybe chat them up. And show up I did. On Sunday night and it was unfortunately on Saturday night. [Insert small panic attack around this onset symptom] So I sent him a little brief note with a link to a funny Dutch song that I thought he would enjoy since he's from the Netherlands. And I mentioned that I got my wires crossed didn't go any further into detail.

#6 goes full circle to back when I first was taking voice lessons and musicianship and sang gospel in the choir with the son of my first piano teacher in the 80's. That youngster now runs the upscaled version of that gospel choir. Sadly even though I love the concept and I'm confident in my abilities, they are now pretty hardcore. I mean as in no mobility issues and requirement to stand up for 45 to 90 minutes at a time with no break. And a lot of traveling, like 40 50 performances a year.

#7 run by a person I don't trust.

#8 not an option; regression  

#9 have heard them recently and not sure what's going on; rumor has it that the director eats singers.

What is the truth? I took a second and then went ahead and signed up for another week long retreat. 4th time.

And freaking out about sight singing auditions; I'm seriously thinking that without getting into any psychological stuff, I don't subscribe to the party line that says if you practice enough you'll master something. And I'll tell you why. First off you have to define mastery: complete control of something or comprehensive knowledge or skill in a subject or accomplishment.

Oh lordy, a lot could be said about what is going on behind the impetus to create, especially with an ensemble. I got to do a very minor amount of directing in my time and man it's like herding cats. People do not want to do what you tell them to do because they just don't. So if you have a very clear and well thought out plan in place and people are always throwing obstacles in your way, because of ignorance or egos or ambition, then best throw them out (or as somebody once said: lead, follow, or get out of the way. Yeesh, I hate that.)  

I can see where it would be very frustrating for somebody to try to achieve a goal of so-called mastery. Maybe they can hear it in their heads and they wanna hear it in the room. Isn't it true though that a lot of music in the past was written for amateurs? It wasn't of such a caliber that a group was doomed from the get go.  Isn't that where we get the community in community?

I have the DNA of homegrown passion for music, dance, storytelling, but it ain't store bought. None of my folks really went to school for any of that. Would you say that they mastered anything like that in their lives? None of them would have made a living as a session musician, but I think a case could be made that very few are able to achieve that anyway.

Sometimes my family would go to concerts and afterward I distinctly recall my parents squabbling in the front seat of the car about the fact that my father insisted on attempting to analyze the music and my mother was so bored that she fought back, saying it spoiled the experience. I can never be sure but I believe all my father was doing was trying to get closer to the source of the composer's inspiration; he found that sort of exploration somehow more comforting than just surrendering to the music. Certainly in line with his fear of vulnerability. He had perfect pitch, too, and played violin in a one horse high school, as if that actually means anything in southern Missouri circa 1935.

And yet I have discovered to my own chagrin there is something out there, dangling, swinging ever so gently in the wind, just beyond my reach.

1967/68, the year I spent at the San Francisco ballet school, coming back every weekend to my old ballet Academy, my old teacher, and taking classes from him on Saturday afternoons, my one day off being Sunday. He stuck it to me. He demanded show us some new steps, surely you've got some combinations you could show us. I totally froze. Pretty damn humiliating. There were patterns; I just didn't appear to have access to them. I knew they were in there but I just didn't have access.

I couldn't give them any oxygen.



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Claudine Jones | Scene4 Magazin

Claudine Jones has a long, full career as an Actor/Singer/Dancer. She writes a monthly column
and is a Senior Writer and columnist for Scene4.
For more of her commentary and articles, check the Archives.

©2023 Claudine Jones
©2023 Publication Scene4 Magazine





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