Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.E.F. Schumacher
I was given a tremendous gift, this past Saturday. Let me begin by sharing and paraphrasing the email I received.
On Oct 7, 2015, at 11:24 pm, Sydney Cline wrote:
Hey Jeff! Long time, no talk. 🙂 The deadline for the Tori Kelly audition submission was moved to this coming Monday, Oct. 12th. Thinking I would have to have the video recorded and edited by this past Monday, though, I went ahead and made a “Lay Me Down” cover by Sam Smith in the campus library’s music room, last week, anyway, just so I could submit something and compete. Sunday, when I got back to school, I went back to the library and quickly filmed, “Riptide.” Long story short, I’m home again for fall break; now until Sunday. I would love to make this video and song my best work; something I’m proud of and want to share with everyone, so they can vote. This being said, I would love your guidance and help. I know you are extremely busy and I would be grateful for whatever time you could offer. If you have any free time and would be interested in helping me, I would love it. I have this break, now, to focus on making it perfect, so I thought you could definitely help make it my best.
Sydney Cline was one of my Voice and Artist Development students for almost two years before being accepted and heading off this fall to North Carolina State University. From day one, she managed her own sessions. That includes her scheduling, her goals, her responsibility – her everything. That “everything,” in my experience, makes the biggest difference between those who “will” and those who “won’t.” Those who “should” and those who “shouldn’t.”
Sydney, like most (if not all) artists I know, is indeed a perfectionist. What I’ve come to realize and encourage through years of trial and error, is that there’s beauty, originality and style in imperfection. Imperfection is the very thing every artist should explore and exploit. But, that’s a blog for another day.
So, “Squyd” and I meet at the studio. She shares both videos with me. Half-way through viewing the second one, I asked her to stop. I was beaming with pride. It was imperfectly perfect. Sure, her voice sounded great. Sure, she had the right amount of variation and creativity. All the technique in the world didn’t compare to the initiative she took. I’m not talking about blind ambition or ego. She didn’t go big. She went smart. She knows who she is. She found the right track and arrangement for her voice. She secured a room at the library. It was clever. She recorded, edited, uploaded and submitted the video on her own terms, making the most of her resources on campus, for a campus-related event; as opposed to filming an expensive, technology and production-saturated chef-d’oeuvre. At the end of the day, that’s what makes the biggest difference to me. Simple. Smart. Autonomy.
Sydney gave me the greatest gift I could ask for as a teacher. Trust. I don’t define what I do or how I do it by how much I get done by the end of the day. Did I make a difference in someone’s life? The “she’s got this” kinda’ difference? She answered that question on Saturday. Thank you, Squyd.
Sydney Cline isn’t Hickory Arts. We are Sydney Cline.
Jeff Hartman, Artistic Director