The Fine Art of Being Less Than Perfect

Perfectionism is self-abuse of the highest order. -Anne Wilson Schaef

A few months ago, I had a trial piano lesson with a man, probably in his mid-40’s, who described himself as a beginning piano student. I came to the lesson prepared to show him where middle C was on the keyboard, a bit about reading music, and perhaps an introduction to the C major scale.

I learned to play piano and read music from lesson books by the likes of John Thompson, John W. Schaum and Michael Aaron. Typically, these books graduate in complexity from grade one to grade five. As a senior in high school, I had gotten through most of grade four, after 10 years of lessons.

My “beginning” trial student that day pulled out a grade three book and played a classical piece beautifully, making one mistake in the middle of the second page. He was frustrated that he continued to make mistakes at all…and that they were always in different places.

I gently explained my definition of a beginning student (has never read music and doesn’t know where middle C is), that he was far too advanced for me to be able to teach him…and inquired if he might be a bit of a perfectionist…?  He took a breath, paused, and said, “You could say I’ve heard that before.”

At it’s root, perfectionism isn’t really about a deep love of being perfect. It’s about fear. Fear of making a mistake. Fear of disappointing others. Fear of failure. Fear of success. -Michael Law

One of my regular students at Lake Music, a 12-year-old, is one of the most dedicated students I’ve had. I’ve only had one other student who has worked as hard as “Karen”, as I’ll call her, and has learned piano so quickly. Karen will soon be starting voice lessons as well. Yet, I’m concerned about her – because she is so hard on herself. I’ve interacted extensively with her father, who sits in on most of Karen’s lessons, and I don’t feel the pressure is coming from her parents. I’ve learned in casual conversation during lessons that Karen is the eldest of four siblings.

I don’t know where Karen’s drive comes from. She’s a joy to work with. Yet I wonder if the need to excel is robbing her of her own joy in the process of discovery and growth.

It’s healthy to commit to learning, growing and becoming the best musician or speaker you can be. I want to become the best vocalist and voice teacher I can be. But that’s not the same thing as perfectionism. The need to be perfect can either stop you dead in your tracks or make the path you’re traveling toward any goal or dream tense and miserable.

I mentioned this to one of my other piano students, a 38-year-old adult, who readily shared with me that the scourge of perfectionism lead him to seven years in therapy and prescription medication. One of my fellow certified Transformational Voice® Teachers, Maire, describes herself as a recovering perfectionist. She once shared with the apprenticeship training class how when people would “accuse” her of being a perfectionist, her response was, “How can I be a perfectionist? I never do anything perfectly.”

And it wasn’t a joke. This was her reality at that time. Breaks my heart.

Thankfully, Maire, a classically trained soprano, decided to become gloriously imperfect as a voice and yoga teacher, singer, songwriter and recording artist with the other half of The Boston Imposters, her husband, Davey. I love their debut album and shudder to think of a world without it, had Maire allowed perfectionism to keep her from expressing her beautiful authentic voice in the world.

Perfectionism doesn’t make you feel perfect; it makes you feel inadequate. -Maria Shriver

To uncover your authentic voice, (no perfectionism allowed!) join me and Brenda Bryan’s Be Bold, Be Brave, Be Powerful Speaker’s Club at Swaha Studios on April 11th, 1:00 – 4:00 for The Four Vocal Superpowers Most Pros Don’t Know. Register by emailing info@LauraHandke.com. $97. $75 for Speaker’s Club members.

Please spread the love and pass this along to a friend!

Love Your Voice and Voice Your Love,

Laura

Lake Oswego’s Transformational Voice® Teacher (Transformational Voice® is a registered trademark of Transformational Voice® Training Institute, LLC, and Linda Brice.)

Ramblin’

“Hermit” archetype collage card

I hope you’ve escaped the crud going around this winter. I was sick the third week of January, sicker than I’ve been in quite a while. My lungs were congested, fever had my teeth and limbs chattering, and all I could think about was getting more sleep. I spent upwards of 18-20 hours per day in bed for three days, with an increasingly sore back, because I was spending so much time prone.

I had to postpone most of my student appointments and my personal voice lesson with my teacher as a result. Guess what? When you’ve been sick like that, coughing and coughing, it may take up to two weeks for your poor throat and vocal folds to recover from the inflammation. I’ve been on partial vocal rest since.

One thing about being sick, it sure makes you feel grateful for your health, doesn’t it? Once I felt well enough to get out of bed, the nesting instinct set in and all I could think about was cleaning and cooking. I showered for the first time in three days and washed my bedding. Cleaned house and lit a candle and brought it from room to room. Made a broccoli cheese soup, a big fresh green salad with red bell pepper and cucumber and picked up a frozen French baguette at Albertson’s to brown and bake. Got a craving for dessert, for some reason, and reached out to my friends on Facebook for easy recipes that don’t require grocery shopping.

Try this one, from my friend, Jackie, the next time you have a sweet tooth. It’s simple, yummy, and you can ignore the sifting suggestion, as Jackie and I do.

Chocolate Sundae Pudding

1 C all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

2 TBSP unsweetened cocoa

2/3 C sugar

½ C milk

½ chopped walnuts (I leave these out)

2 TBSP melted butter

1 tsp vanilla

Topping (recipe follows)

1 C boiling water

Whipping cream

Sift flour (or not) and mix with baking powder, salt, cocoa and sugar in a mixing bowl. Add the milk, nuts, butter and vanilla; blend well. Pour mixture into a greased 9-inch square baking pan.

Topping:

Combine ¼ C sugar, ½ C brown sugar, 3 TBSP cocoa, ¼ tsp salt and 1 tsp vanilla.

Spread topping evenly over the first mixture. Pour 1 cup boiling water over all. Do not stir.

Bake at 350 for 50 minutes to an hour, until slightly crusty on top and firm. A pudding will form on top with a fudge sauce layer below. Serve hot with plain or whipped cream.

This illness also reminded me of how very important books are to me.  

Before I got sick, I had picked up three fiction books in a row I couldn’t get into. So disappointing. I forced myself to finish one and brought all three back to my favorite local little library. Where I found one more…and went back to the Tigard Library, too. There I found one I will quote this much of:

Fireflies twinkled in the tall grass, a big yellow moon was rising out of the sea, and Paradise Ice Cream was hopping. Twenty-eight flavors and a short-order grill were housed in a small white cottage on the edge of a marsh, with beach traffic meandering past on Shore Road. Bright, colorful lanterns swung from a wire above the packed parking lot. People sat at picnic tables under a willow tree, gazing across the mouth of the river towards the lighthouse on the other side.

-from SANDCASTLES by Luanne Rice.

I’m so happy to have a good book on my nightstand again.

Let me know if you have a favorite author – I’d love the introduction! The same goes for your favorite uber easy dessert-to-bake recipe.

For your Calendar: April 11th – Swaha Studios – The Four Vocal Superpowers Most Pro’s Don’t Know!

Please spread the love and pass this along to a friend!

Love Your Voice and Voice Your Love,

Laura

Lake Oswego’s Transformational Voice® Teacher (Transformational Voice® is a registered trademark of Transformational Voice® Training Institute, LLC, and Linda Brice.)

A Few Minutes a Day with Johnny Cash

American country singer Johnny Cash (1932 – 2003) sits with an acoustic guitar in a still from the film, ‘Road To Nashville,’ directed by Will Zenz, 1966. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

A Few Minutes a Day with Johnny Cash

Just a few minutes a day with your instrument can make the difference between becoming your best vocalist/musician or not.

My voice students have been coming along by leaps and bounds, and I sing every day – I’m always warming up and demonstrating with my students. Right now, my students, including piano students, are between the ages of 6 and 77. Korean, African American, Caucasian, young girls, middle-aged men…I could not have imagined this kind of diversity and joy when I left Corporate America and the cubicle environment in 2014.

What a blessing!

And yet of course I have a different set of struggles as a teacher and entrepreneur.

Perhaps you have personal experience with the struggle I’ll discuss today. Even though I sing virtually every day, I still suffer from performance anxiety when I sing solo in public. Not when I teach or speak, but when I sing.

This isn’t an easy thing for a voice teacher to admit.

I’m making steps to walk through this fear and become a competent public solo singer…updates will be coming!

In the meantime, I want to acknowledge dearly departed Johnny Cash, one of my favorite country singers. I learned to sing Folsom Prison Blues with my now-husband playing the guitar. One of the first times we practiced the song, I felt Johnny in the room with us. I mentioned it to George, and he did, too.

I have a two-pronged theory about why Folsom Prison Blues seems to be the only song I can sing well in public when I’m nervous and my body tenses. Here’s a clip of me singing the song last May at the Lake Music Recital. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ow6fAsgYzeI

One: This song is all in my first and low, full second register – I’m belting the blues and my larynx doesn’t tilt as it would if I went into light second register. So, I have plenty of breath, resonance, and a relatively stable larynx that will operate fairly well even when I have performance anxiety and tension in my body. That’s the physical part.

Two: The emotional/spiritual part, and connection with the composer on the other side. I call goosebumps angelbumps. When I felt Johnny in the room with us during those early rehearsals, my arms and legs were covered with angelbumps. Somehow, I feel I’m being supported by Johnny Cash every time I sing this song.

You want to hear something spooky? The very night after I wrote the above, I watched the movie The Soloist on television. (I highly recommend it.) Jamie Foxx’s sensitive, riveting, soul-stirring performance as mentally ill, homeless musical genus Nathaniel Ayers knocked my socks off.

In one moving scene, journalist Steve Lopez (played by the wonderful Robert Downey, Jr.) takes Ayers to hear a symphony rehearse Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3.

As the music closes, Ayers whispers, “He’s in the room.”

“Who is?” Lopez asks.

“Beethoven.”

I get angelbumps just remembering. And I’ll remember this as I rehearse other songs in my first register by Carole King, Stevie Nicks and Mary Chapin Carpenter – all of whom are alive and well on planet Earth.

Please spread the love and pass this along to a friend!

Love Your Voice and Voice Your Love,

Laura

Lake Oswego’s Transformational Voice® Teacher (Transformational Voice® is a registered trademark of Transformational Voice® Training Institute, LLC, and Linda Brice.)

Wishweaving and Designing Your Destiny with Lisa Marie Platske

Wishweavers Circle 2020: a Mastermind Experience is beginning! I’m excited for our first meeting with women who’ve recently accomplished such things as opening a new store and writing a one-woman-play.

There are many ways to reach our dreams and define our goals. My friend and colleague, Lisa Marie Platske, has found a unique way to help you take your bold and daring vision for making a bigger difference in the world, and fully using your gifts, talents and experiences into firm possibility this year.

No, it’s not crazy. Lisa knows from experience, as do I, with the right vision and support, anything is possible in 2020.

Lisa has extended a generous special offer because of our connection! How cool is that?

You can find the details here: https://designyourdestinylive.com/SpecialOffer

For just $297 a ticket, you can bring a friend for free; that’s $1697 off the ticket price. If you’re near Manhattan Beach, California (or want to be) the weekend of January 23rd-25th, jump on board to Design Your Destiny with Lisa Marie Platske.

Please spread the love and pass this along to a friend!

Love Your Voice and Voice Your Love,

Laura

Lake Oswego’s Transformational Voice® Teacher (Transformational Voice® is a registered trademark of Transformational Voice® Training Institute, LLC, and Linda Brice.)

The Power of a Wishweavers Circle (aka Mastermind Group)

Long before I became a Certified Transformational Voice® Teacher, I learned how the Mastermind process (described by Napoleon Hill, author of the classic Think and Grow Rich, as “The coordination of knowledge and effort, of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in the spirit of harmony”) can transform lives. I call a Mastermind group a Wishweavers Circle.

My first group of this kind was so successful I wrote a book, Six Degrees to Your Dreams, to teach others how to have the same experience.   https://www.iuniverse.com/BookStore/BookDetails/101438-SIX-DEGREES-TO-YOUR-DREAMS

Anyone with a desire to move forward with their dreams and goals can benefit from a Wishweavers Circle. Voice teachers like me who are dealing with aging parents in another state, entrepreneurs, employees who are feeling frustrated and would like to make a change. Retirees with wisdom to share and a desire for community.

I’ve been invited to several Mastermind groups that charge a fee, and the one I won a raffle for was awesome. All the same, in my experience, exchanging of money isn’t necessary, or even necessarily helpful. The right people tend to come together at the right time.

Are you interested in being part of a Wishweavers Circle in the new year?

Here’s how it would look:

*Meet twice a month via Zoom for possibly an hour, depending on number of members and availability.

*Each member has an equal amount of time to share an update, successes, challenges, and absorb feedback and resources from other members.

*Close with accountability commitments for forward movement.

*No fee, but weekly updates are expected.

*Facebook group optional.

If this sounds good to you, email info@laurahandke.com and say YES to Wishweavers 2020. There are two of us now…six to eight more Wishweavers are welcome.

Please spread the love and pass this along to a friend!

Love Your Voice and Voice Your Love,

Laura

Lake Oswego’s Transformational Voice® Teacher (Transformational Voice® is a registered trademark of Transformational Voice® Training Institute, LLC, and Linda Brice.)

A Holiday Tribute to Raymond, South Dakota

Happy Holidays, Friend.

Living Room

How are you celebrating?

I celebrate Christmas, and I celebrate my friends and people from all faith backgrounds who celebrate other holidays.

Growing up on a farm in South Dakota, I found each Christmas – with a huge extended family – magical.  Now that my parents are both failing in health, I appreciate those childhood Christmas memories, always at our home on the farm, even more.

Here’s a video in tribute to my home town of Raymond, South Dakota. It’s not very professional, yet it’s fun. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0X9XKmolNc&feature=youtu.be

I wish you a beautiful holiday season with dreams coming true, immense love, and voicing your dreams like never before.

The world needs your authentic truth spoken in your authentic voice.

Please spread the love and pass this along to a friend!

Love Your Voice and Voice Your Love,

Laura

Lake Oswego’s Transformational Voice® Teacher (Transformational Voice® is a registered trademark of Transformational Voice® Training Institute, LLC, and Linda Brice.)