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On Listening Without Cringing

January 4, 2010

radio.jpegMany creative people don't feel comfortable about attending performances of their own work. I'm not sure why reliving this experience makes them feel awkward. Does it have something to do with embarrassment at being the center of attention? Or perhaps a fear that people won't respond positively?

I got a small taste of this feeling last week as the inaugural broadcast of my new public radio show all about the art of singing, VoiceBox, loomed closer. The series, which runs every Friday evening from 10pm-11pm Pacific Time, launched on New Year's day. I hadn't ever listened to any of the five pilot broadcasts which aired last summer; somehow I just couldn't bring myself to.

But the journey between then and the official launch last week was such a momentous one for me (as a result of all the thinking, fundraising and other activities involved in starting a new project of this sort) that I felt I needed to not only listen in to the show, but also to mark the occasion somehow.

So it was with a combined mixture of mild reluctance, tremendous excitement and a big dollop of fear, that I invited a bunch of friends over on Friday evening for an impromptu VoiceBox listening party.

Girded by cheese and crackers, homemade brownies and prosecco cocktails, the event went rather well. One friend remarked about how sweetly old-fashioned it was to huddle around the wireless listening to a show with a group of people (well, we huddled around my laptop, but the effect was much the same as sitting in front of a radio in the pre-television era.) People seemed to respond positively. For my part, I managed to get through the hourlong broadcast without cringing too much.

And I was glad I listened, as I learned a lot from putting myself through the recording. Some aspects could use improvement: There were times when I sounded too much like I was reading. I need to work on sounding a little less canned. Other aspects of the show, I quite enjoyed. The mad, eclectic playlist made me happy, as did the fact that I didn't sound rushed.

I don't know how often I'll get to listen to the show "live" in the coming weeks -- my arts reviewing schedule will very likely prevent it -- but I should probably make a point of tuning in after the fact from here on in. Listening to one's own creative efforts isn't the most comfortable experience in the world, but you can learn a lot from doing so.

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