I Don’t Really Feel Like Singing Right Now

Yesterday, sitting in my little house alone, I stared down the void of Zoom, teaching young singers how to modify vowels. 

When I finished teaching, I went into my kitchen to cook, er, heat up, dinner, which I ate at a table while texting friends.

After dinner, I did a short yoga class online (“Yoga With Adrienne”) and sent a few emails to students before relaxing on the patio with a glass of wine and calling my mom before watching Mare of Easttown on Netflix. Then I went to sleep.

This is my new reality.

I don’t feel like singing anymore, and I don’t know what to do about it.

I watch from afar as the world reopens, having temporarily relocated to Florida (which never really closed). Still, the opportunities for performing are nearly nonexistent.

 I watch performer friends on Instagram as they gleefully “sing for a live audience for the first time in 18 months,” pole dance in elaborate, glorious feathers at New York City nightclubs, or sing with jazz trios at private events and luxurious weddings in Hudson-on-Croton.

Don’t get me wrong: I am genuinely happy for my friends and colleagues. But I’m also sad.

Sad because for the last 18 months, the world has told me that I’m not essential, that what I do isn’t necessary. Sad because my family tells me to buck up and “get on with it.” Get on with what, I think to myself. The venues I’ve sung for nearly 20 years have closed for good.

I need, no, I want, someone to need me, to want me to sing—and to pay me for it. Singing isn’t a hobby for me; it’s part of my livelihood. I am a professional with two degrees in voice.

Sometimes I “feel like” singing and post a video on Instagram. This provides a temporary release or high, like a drug fix. But it doesn’t last. Like a drug, you have to keep performing for the high to last. 

I had gigs lined up before the pandemic, but I wasn’t in a Broadway or off-Broadway show that will soon reopen and welcome me back, nor do I have a residency at Birdland Jazz or Joe’s Pub. I have guest starred in major network and cable television shows, but I’m not a series regular.

So what, exactly, am I “returning” to?

Singing is hard. This is no news, but the general population (i.e. non-singers) seems to believe it’s easy and innate. For me, it never was. I always had a voice and I love to sing, but it comes at a price. And absent an audience, singing doesn’t uplift me. It breaks my heart.

So here I am, in Florida, a working-class artist who made a living but who is not famous.
Do I pick up where I left off? Hustling, self-submitting to auditions, singing in front of a few people behind a table?

Do I dare to keep hoping?

Yes.

Yes, I do. 

Because deep down, I still want it. I still desire it. I still have my dream. I still feel that fire, though it’s but a dim spark at present.

And so, in my own way, in any way I can. I will honor that spark. I will honor my dream. It’s my birthright. It’s my divine gift. And it’s yours too.

There is no map right now, friends, no guidebook, and like many of you, I have not a clue what I’m going to do next.

So for now, every morning when I wake up, I ask myself, “Do you still want to do this?” If the answer is yes, I keep going.

Minda Larsen

Minda Larsen is a classically trained singer, actor, and voice teacher in New York City. She’s sung at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, traveled to over 80 countries performing her original cabaret shows, and acted recently on Gotham (FOX), The Deuce (HBO), and FBI (CBS). Larsen’s students have appeared in numerous Broadway shows and national tours. Larsen earned her MM at the Manhattan School of Music. Visit @mindalarsen on Instagram.