Gratitude

CS Music wants to express its gratitude at this Thanksgiving time. We all know what kind of year it’s been, but we have so much to be grateful for. Not everyone has the same”Gratitude List,” and we are well aware of those who are missing vital needs, but we all have lists we can put together that can lift our hearts and bring a smile to our face. We loved how Minda Larsen chose to share what she’s grateful for and wanted all of you to read her experience. THANK YOU you for your support and THANK YOU for being part of this wonderful singing community!

I

was listening to Oprah on a podcast the other day. The following line struck me:

 

“The way to get the life you want is to be grateful for the life you have.” 

 

I’ve always agreed with this in general. But is it true even in the midst of a pandemic that hit the arts harder than most industries? 

 

I’m willing to give it a try, so here is my Thanksgiving gratitude list: 

(I turned 40 in quarantine, so here are my top 40!)

  1.  Health!
  2. Teachers: I take acting and voice lessons at least once a month. I’m so grateful to see and share music with my teachers, no matter where I am (or they are!). 
  3. Mentors.
  4. Internet/WiFi: I have been able to teach voice remotely. Had this happened in another era, I would have lost a significant portion of my income. 
  5. Venmo, Paypal, Zelle and other online payment services. 
  6. ZOOM! We all know about Zoom fatigue, but without Zoom, I would neither be able to work as a teacher nor keep in touch with friends who left New York. 
  7. Students: So grateful for my fellow singers and students who continue to learn and grow.
  8. Money. Yes, Money. Whether you have a lot or a little, money makes life possible. Thank you, money. 
  9. Education: both formal training and the learning that continues over a lifetime and helps one navigate one’s career. 
  10. Family and friends—and the time to connect with them. I’ve not spent this time talking with friends by phone since I was a teenager. 
  11. Technology: Webinars, Microsoft Teams, Dropbox, WeTransfer, Garage Band, Audacity etc.
  12. Creative apps that help us express ourselves on social media and otherwise: Word Swag, Canva, iMovie.
  13. Versatility: Versatility allows artists to express their creativity in new locations: driveways, parks, backyards, street corner. 
  14. YouTube: This predates the pandemic. But if your teacher tells you to learn a new song in a week, you can (with very minimal piano skills). 
  15. Digital sheet music. I love real libraries, but I’m grateful for access to digital libraries, which I keep in a Dropbox virtual library. 
  16. Self-Taping: Artists could not live without self tapes during a pandemic. But even after a vaccine, I think we will continue to be taping ourselves in many instances. Here’s my primer on self-taping: How to: Self-Tapes for Singers
  17. Ring lights. Bless you, ring light, for your wrinkle-smoothing, late night taping help. 
  18. New musical skills/new material: The pandemic has given many of us the opportunity to expand our musical skill set, learning new instruments like the ukelele, guitar, and piano.  
  19. Fast shipping: I can order mics and home recording equipment and receive it in a few days. Yes, studios are closed. But we are building home studios—for far less than any of us expected to pay.
  20. Free/cheap backing tracks. I’m aging myself, but you used to have to wait for a lesson or coaching session to hear the piano part of a song. Now you can find it in ten seconds on YouTube. It might not be perfect, but it’s adequate for rehearsal purposes. 
  21. File sharing. Sharing video and audio files without having to park, take the subway, lug bags of clothes or costumes is a gift. I’ve gotten work with a few clicks of my mouse. 
  22. Virtual auditions: Before COVID-19, there were many auditions I didn’t go out for because I would have had to travel to get to them. That’s changed—for the better. 
  23. Virtual competitions: See 22. 24.
  24. Expanded collaboration: I have worked with people scattered around the globe–in my living room! My screenwriting teacher is in LA, far from the East Coast.
  25. Online learning outside the arts. Whether you want to learn to cook or sew or put a desk together, you can find tutorials online for practically anything. 
  26. Online marketplaces: eBay, Poshmark, and other marketplaces have allowed me to sell gowns, scores, shoes and other items I no longer need and make extra money from home. 
  27. Duolingo and Rosetta Stone. Language skills are essential for opera, but before it was limited to classroom settings. Now you can learn French on the cheap and easy wherever you are.
  28. Online ticket sales. I made $900 from my virtual concert this summer, selling all tickets online. 
  29. Online conventions: Nearly 200 singers attended my seminar at the CS Music Convention! 
  30. Equalizing the playing field: Even those of widely different means and levels of professional success are struggling with the same problems right now. There is community in this struggle. 
  31. Convenience: Not having to carry your audition clothes and music scores on the subway is great.
  32. Downtime: More time to read, veg, sleep, catch up on movies and TV. 
  33. Creating for its own sake: With far fewer jobs up for grabs, you don’t have to “justify” creating because you have an audition or you think you’ll get a job. Many artists, even established ones, are working on things that may or may not be produced. Again, we’re all in the same boat. 
  34. Experimenting with your “look”. You may not be onstage for awhile, so if you’re a soprano who always wanted hot pink hair, now’s your chance! 
  35. Social media: For all its downsides, we wouldn’t have gotten through this pandemic without sharing, promoting, venting, and connecting via social media.  
  36. Geographical freedom: You can create on a beach or in a remote cabin. With live entertainment shut down (and much TV/film yet to begin shooting), you can go live somewhere you were afraid to move because you might lose work. 
  37. Talent: Our God-given gifts and artistry didn’t disappear just because the formal avenues of expression shut down. 
  38. My husband and cat, Kissa. I’m grateful to be married to a fellow artist who understands the unique pressures COVID-19 places upon artists. 

39: Streaming Services: God Bless you Netflix, Amazon Prime, CBS and all the actors and crew that continue to create and work so we can have these blissful escapes.

40: Being here, right now. This moment.

Minda Larsen

Minda Larsen is an actor, singer and voice teacher in New York City with nearly 20 years experience as a professional singer and actor. Most recently, she has appeared in Gotham (FOX) and The Deuce (HBO). Minda has sung with the New York Philharmonic (Carousel) and performed her original cabaret shows as a headliner on all major cruise lines, traveling to over 80 countries. Minda’s voice students can be seen on Broadway (Frozen, A Bronx Tale, Harry Potter, The Ferryman) and in numerous off-Broadway productions. She is passionate about working with students not just on technique, but the healthy pursuit of a career in the arts. Minda holds a Master’s Degree in vocal performance (classical voice) from the Manhattan School of Music. www.mindalarsen.com www.starvingartistsolution.com @mindalarsen on Instagram