Singing for the audience vs. Singing for yourself. Three pictures to remember

A modern office, air conditioner dully hums above, serious boss at the desk. I question: what’s your educational background? “Educational background”, – he grudgingly echoes. And then like a wizard fished from nowhere – a guitar! “A musician I am!” – and starts playing the guitar, and not just strumming with two and half chords but delicately and swiftly touching upon the strums and my imagination stirred with visions of passionate Flamenco. My mind’s camera as if made a quick shot: Click! A picture to remember.

A foreign company, a respectable CEO, a corporate party pending. An employer (a friend of mine) tosses her head: “No, I won’t come. The boss is going to sing karaoke – as usual.” In his damn expensive suit, before his subordinates he will diligently sing those old well-worn karaoke songs hoping there is no professional singer somewhere in the hall. And again: Click! To remember.

Music school, hot stiff air in the hall while I wait for my son’s lesson to finish. A man, far from being young and looking appealing, comes up in the darkness. I feel a little scared. We start from afar: talk about our kids and the music. And then he as if opens up: “I write songs, you know. Would you like to hear? Accompany myself on the guitar. I don’t know the chords, though. I wanted to learn to sing but then – Kyiv is a busy city, I got overwhelmed and forgot about my aspirations. I can find chords by ear, theory I know none”. In such moments of revelations I feel different, so different. He noticed my inviting smile and hurried on: “I write for the boys in the army – they do need songs, don’t they? I made it to the stage, I got noticed and they have asked me to show them my songs in written – but I don’t know the notes!” Click!

What a surprise to learn these adults from a very different perspective. They are well-going, perhaps, have accomplished much but what they talk about is “I love singing, I love playing”. They are entrepreneurs, bosses, they have everything they practically need. But then they let you know that one is a musician, another dances waltz, or has singing lessons, or drawing. No spectators, no admirers, no audience as such – that’s of minor importance.

In her interview a singer said: “I don’t need a host of fans. I am pretty happy with a small circle of people who find my songs very intimate for them. Yes, I was once offered to become a world star but it’s not what I am looking for. I want to be able to invite to my concerts not only screaming teenagers but men and women of 40’s and 50’s, not dressed up by the latest fashion, maybe. I want to sing for them, to reflect their emotions in my songs. I want them to see how important and precious they are.”