Sunday, August 1, 2010
Lessons from Karaoke
Maybe karaoke really is Japanese for "You're doing it wrong," but three things I noticed while out with some friends at a karaoke bar seem bigger than karaoke. So this week I'm sharing them with you so that they might have an impact in your non-karaoke activities. And mine, too.
When I looked at the head-spinning array of songs in their catalog, I found myself thinking Ah! I know that one!, only to realize as I thought of the tune that I didn't really know it as well as I believed. I knew the chorus perhaps, but not the verses. Or I knew some words, but couldn't for the life of me remember the actual melody. Disappointed, I kept searching for another song that I actually knew with a little more confidence. My mind sometimes thinks I have knowledge that I don't actually have.
Having experienced getting up on stage and singing, I may actually try one of those almost-familiar songs next time and see what happens. Who knows? The lyrics may all come rushing back. But being on the stage has challenges all its own. For instance, I couldn't actually hear the key of the song I was singing when it began, I just had a general sense that there was accompaniment. So I started in what seemed like the appropriate key and went for it. As the music became more distinct at the chorus, I realized that I was way off. But I couldn't quite make the shift to a new key until I stopped and listened for just a moment. Then, I jumped back in, more in sync with the accompaniment. My mind had been so locked in to what I was doing, that I couldn't comfortably make that shift without a little break in my own inertia. When I realize I am off course, sometimes the best thing to do is stop and get my bearings -- rather than continue to barrel forward.
The greatest phenomenon of karaoke bars is that everyone gets acknowledged. Whether you sing a song like the original artist or your performance lacks any recognizable melody or rhythm, people will acknowledge you. And the applause and cheers are quite sincere, even if someone tanks. Sure, people may really go crazy for a great performance. They also recognize that it takes guts and commitment to even be on stage in the first place. You might not be ready for American Idol, but it is an accomplishment just to get up and do your best. It doesn't cost me anything to acknowledge someone for doing their best, and there will probably be someone in my life to recognize me for stepping forward.
And even if there isn't, the whole point behind the evening was to have fun, and it was obvious that people did just that. People who were natural entertainers and people who were singing on a dare. And it was fun for everybody, whether we were on stage or enjoying someone else's performance. Of course, there is a little anxiety that goes along with any kind of public performance, but the bottom line is: Life is too short not to enjoy what you are doing. When I am willing to have fun with everything I choose to do, my whole life perspective is transformed.