Fearless Performance by Jeff Nelsen


It was last Friday morning, the day of my studio recital. All 18 of my students here at IU Jacobs School of Music would stand up in front of both peers and strangers to speak and perform (by memory) a piece of their choosing.  It's a big deal to perform for one's colleagues.  The performance serves as both a goal toward which to work, and also a way to measure one's growth over the semester. Basically, they have to execute.  It comes down to their one performance this night.  Da dah DAAAAAA!!!!

On Facebook that morning, some powerful words by David Ackert published by the LA Times in 2013 caught my attention.  As you'll see below, he starts with, "Singers and Musicians are..."  I laughed out loud when I read that.  Having had singers for parents, and having married a singer, his accidental separation of singers from musicians connects to the fun I've had doing the same.  When people ask me if my wife is a musician, I often say, "No, she's a singer." 

I usually get a nice, "Ouch! Issues, have you, Jeff!?" from the person I'm joking with, and then I explain how I revere singers and try to sound as close as possible to them when I play my horn.

I have the utmost respect for singers, but also enjoy teasing people.

I was so moved by David's piece of writing that I read it to everyone as an opening to my students' recital on Friday night. I was surprised when I first began to get choked up while reading to them, and then my surprise turned to deep focus so I could just get through my reading.  This is heavy stuff David Ackert wrote.  And I believe this goes to the heart of humanity, not only for musicians but for everyone in all our pursuits.  

Whether you're a musician or not, please indulge in reading this like it's speaking to you.  It is.  Especially if you're open and interested in touching someone's heart with your performance of your day's opportunities...

"Singers and Musicians are some of the most driven, courageous people on the face of the earth. They deal with more day-to-day rejection in one year than most people do in a lifetime. 

Every day, they face the financial challenge of living a freelance lifestyle, the disrespect of people who think they should get real jobs, and their own fear that they'll never work again. 

Every day, they have to ignore the possibility that the vision they have dedicated their lives to is a pipe dream. 
With every note, they stretch themselves, emotionally and physically, risking criticism and judgment.

With every passing year, many of them watch as the other people their age achieve the predictable milestones of normal life - the car, the family, the house, the nest egg. 


Because musicians and singers are willing to give their entire lives to a moment - to that melody, that lyric, that chord, or that interpretation that will stir the audience's soul.

Singers and Musicians are beings who have tasted life's nectar in that crystal moment when they poured out their creative spirit and touched another's heart.

In that instant, they were as close to magic, God, nature, and perfection as anyone could ever be. And in their own hearts, they know that to dedicate oneself to that moment is worth a thousand lifetimes." 

 - David Ackert, LA Times   

Task for the Day - Touch someone's heart.

That's it.  Please do this today.  Drop your protection, your right-ness, your being sure...and touch someone's heart in a way you otherwise wouldn't have.

Dedicate yourself to that moment.

Yay you.


P.S. Thank you David Ackert.

Jeff Nelsen
Jeff Nelsen


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