Singing to the Rhythm of Our Movement
On the evening of my master’s recital, I could barely keep the stress at bay. If I pulled it off, this performance would prove to everyone (including myself) that I belonged on the stage as a professional singer. I felt the pressure, but I also knew that I had prepared myself well for the moment of truth. The sixteen carefully chosen selections had been ingrained into my memory so thoroughly that I woke up with lyrics and melodies running through my head, and I internalized the translations of my French, German, and Italian pieces so well I could have recited them to the audience. And of course, I picked out the perfect purple recital dress with the help of my friends. The nerves attempted to eat me from the inside as I stood off stage with my accompanist. I considered this recital to be a test, one that would determine whether I was still that fearful blind singer who entered the University of Missouri two years ago.
When I stepped onto the stage, I had to smile. Friends filled the audience; I sensed the love and encouragement emanating from their applause. I handed my cane to my accompanist to stow next to the piano once I took my spot down center, and when I began to sing my first aria, I shed the fear and anxiety. I was at home on that stage. Finally, I claimed my place as a proud performer as I poured out my heart through the music.
Undoubtedly, my readers now ask themselves the question: why would an aspiring opera singer seek an internship with the National Federation of the Blind? I promise you that I did not receive this position in order to compose any operas based on the history of our organization. In addition to my love for the work of the federation and my interest in learning and living what we do at the center of our movement, I long to become an effective leader. In my time as a Federationist, I have seen the positive results of mentoring, encouragement, and the community of this organization. Through combining what I learn as a Federationist with my experiences as an aspiring singer, I hope to change perceptions of the blind while working with my friends in the performing arts to own the stage and find a place in the industry.
The National Federation of the Blind teaches us to push the limits of what we believe possible. My master’s recital gave me a glimpse of what could be possible for me as a singer. This internship challenges me every day to think, to analyze, and then to devise more solutions to the problems we face as an organization. My colleagues here inspire me to continue conquering my fears and living the life I want. Whether I find a place for myself on stage or carve out a career path separate from my music, I know that the National Federation of the Blind will be my family, and I appreciate the opportunity I have this summer to work my dream job outside of the performance field.