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Running to Familiarity

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By Andrea Lynn Cianflone

Every audition season, I look through old and new repertoire making decisions about what would be the most suitable songs for me to perform. As I flip through pages, I find it tempting to run towards the familiar songs for the shear nature that I have these songs memorized, researched, and ready to go. At face value, familiarity becomes an easier, safer approach. As I sing through the old repertoire, I am reminded of the areas that I had greatly excelled in, yet I am also starkly aware of the technical growth that may still be needed in some melodic phrases. Though I instinctively know my instrument has grown through the years by much hard work and practice, and through that development I can approach the old repertoire with greater ease, I am still aware of the risks in performing the older repertoire where memorized habits may still exist in the mind and the muscle. In those moments, I ask myself: am I just singing this old repertoire with the hope of gaining better results now? Am I afraid to embrace the newer, more difficult repertoire that I know will be better in the long term? Is it a good decision for me to go back and sing the old repertoire?

This discerning attitude is hardly limited to artistic choices. On a deeper level, how many times do I find myself teetering back and forth between choosing the comfort of old ways or welcoming the new, exciting, and often difficult mindset that brings more freedom? How many times have we heard the story of a person running back to an ex-partner where the relationship proved itself to be unhealthy the first-time round? I probably could have set the world’s best record for the on-again-off-again relationship when I was 21 years old, thinking that somehow the man “I was in love with” would have changed after the millionth time of running back. Each time I became more disappointed by the lack of change I had hoped to see. It was a broken record, that thank goodness, was taken off the turntable through the support of friends who were able to remove the needle from my heart and kindly point out the toxic nature of what was taking place; I somehow kept running to something familiar because that familiarity was a perception of safety. Eventually after much needed personal work, I moved on from that very imprisoning relationship. Be it repertoire to relationship, a new song and new love can be discovered.


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