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Issue #1
September 2021

Hello and welcome to the very first issue of 'Tuning In'! I'm so glad you're joining me in this lovely little corner of the internet. This newsletter has been a long time coming, so it's thrilling to be finally sending this out to you; I hope it will be the first of many.

For anyone who doesn't know me, I'm Laura and I'm a writer, director, facilitator and coach. I'm passionate about every aspect of my work, but the further I go on my own journey the more I am committed to making positive impact wherever I go. 


For the last year or so I've been using my Instagram account and my face-to-face work with artists to share reflections, recommendations and resources, but it didn't feel like enough. I wanted to go bigger. And that's how we find ourselves here: a monthly newsletter which is simply a generous offering from me to you. I hope you enjoy.

This newsletter is always free for subscribers, but it is not free to run. You can support it (and me) by buying me a coffee anytime or donating monthly. Thank you!
"The essence of generosity is letting go. Pain is always a sign that we are holding on to something — usually ourselves. When we feel unhappy, when we feel inadequate, we get stingy; we hold on tight. Generosity is an activity that loosens us up. By offering whatever we can — a dollar, a flower, a word of encouragement — we are training in letting go."
Pema Chödron

On Generosity


Since this newsletter itself is intended as an act of generosity, this seemed a good place to start for this month's theme...

                                  

I always tell singers that a good audition is an act of generosity: giving of yourself and your artistry freely and fully, without expectation of immediate return. It's easy to say, of course, but much harder to believe, let alone put into practice!

Back in the days when I was doing my own performing and auditioning I was full of self-doubt: I'd second-guess panels and directors and teachers, get defensive by finding fault with my auditions and performances before they had a chance to, and sometimes not even commit to preparing for things properly because it felt better to fuck up on my own terms rather than give my all and be vulnerable to criticism or failure from an external source. I held tight to my voice and to my art and to my flaws, because god forbid anyone should see me - all of me - and judge that I wasn't enough. 

I've learned, and am still learning, what it is to be generous with your art - whether that's performing, writing, directing, or any other discipline. To be generous is to show up fully, flaws and all, to give what you have to offer without expectation of return and trust that that will be enough. It's a courageous act. It's a rebellious act. It's a powerful act that defies ego and fear of judgement.

To continue with the analogy of an audition: I haven't met a singer yet who hasn't had a bad experience at some point with a panel member who's been disrespectful or even downright insulting. These experiences can be incredibly damaging until you realise (and truly believe) that whatever that shitty panel member thought of you or said to you has no bearing whatsoever on your essential worth as an artist or as a human being. No, seriously - it just means they're a dickhead. But here's the thing: it doesn't matter whether the people on the panel are complete dickheads or utterly delightful. Nobody's subjective opinions or responses to your art have any bearing on your essential worth. Nothing can touch that. 

                    
A generous audition is also, then, an act that honours your own artistry. It's an act that says "I believe I am enough", "Take or leave me but your opinion doesn't affect how freakin' worthy I am.". It's an act that enables you to fully commit, and allow yourself to be vulnerable. To do your very best, to try your hardest, and show up confident of the value inherent in doing just that, instead of finding ways to undermine yourself in order to have an easy excuse ready when you fail: "Oh but it's my fault because I didn't learn my words properly".
                  
(Side-note: if you haven't already seen it, I urge you to go and dive headfirst into Brené Brown's brilliant TED Talk on vulnerability.)

So be generous. Be bold and rebellious too. The best auditions I've ever seen - many of which I remember to this day - have felt like the singer is giving me a rare gift whilst simultaneously flipping me a fearless middle finger. By letting go of the need to second-guess or control my response to them, letting go of the need to please or attempt to be something they're not, letting go of the expectation or desire for immediate return, they are instead honouring their own artistry and ultimately being generous not only to me but also to themselves. 

In a recent interview with Let's Talk About The Arts I found myself talking about letting go. It wasn't planned, and to be honest I hadn't really noticed the idea as a thread running through what I was saying until the host, Fearghal Curtis, pointed it out. And I haven't been able to stop thinking about it - and its connection to other aspects of my practice, and the values I hold as an artist - ever since.

As a writer, I have to let go of my text: whether that's a poem I have to let go to the interpretation of a reader, or a libretto that goes on to be layered with the art of a composer, a production's creative team and a cast of performers. As a director, I have to let go after rehearsals, as the production takes shape without me on stage in performance. And that work is still unfinished until it ultimately meets its audience, over whom I have the least control of all. 

And what a thrill that is. It's honestly one of the best bits of my job: to sit anonymously in the audience as the curtain goes up on something I've written or directed and see it burst into life without me - see it alongside my fellow audience members, as if for the first time. That's pure magic. I love that I have the opportunity again and again to hand over something precious - to a reader, to a composer, to an audience - without expectation or need for anything in return. To show up and offer what I can, generously, and then let it go. 

                       

Goodness knows I haven't mastered this 'letting go' malarkey yet. I'm hardly writing this from a place of expertise; in fact, I took such a long time to commit to starting a newsletter in the first place (despite having the idea a few months ago) because my fear asked me what the hell I thought I had to offer. It's whispering in my ear now as I'm drafting this: "Who do you think you are? Someone's fucking guru?" trying to get me to hold on tight. But I'm not listening; I'm practising. Because this is a generous offering from one human being to another: from me to you. Because I'd rather show up imperfectly than not at all. Because ultimately I'm going to press 'send' and let it go. It's yours now.

 
This month's recommendation:
The Happiness Lab podcast


I got into this brilliant podcast about the science of happiness, hosted by Dr. Laurie Santos, last summer and have been hooked ever since. Each episode explores a different aspect of human happiness and features fascinating interviews with experts and others who offer insights into ways we can seek to be happier, healthier humans. Prepare to be entertained, informed and surprised by the things you learn. 

You can start at the beginning, or jump straight into any episode that takes your fancy. In honour of this month's 'Tuning In' theme you could even start with their bonus episode on helping others.
Work with me

Workshops
To say THANK YOU for signing up to 'Tuning In', you're getting not only exclusive access to the dates and earlybird booking for my upcoming workshops for singers but also a discount of 10% off!

29th October, 3-6pm on Zoom, 'Getting Out of Your Head and Into The Room'
30th October, 3-6pm on Zoom, 'Reframing Auditions'


Enter code TUNINGIN10 to redeem your discount.

Coaching
 I am currently taking bookings for October for one-to-one online coachings with performers. These are always totally bespoke and designed to suit your needs.
Find out more on my website.

 
Other lovely things being generously offered on the internet include this gorgeous new morning yoga flow (and lots more where that came from!) from Yoga With Adriene, these new works by D/deaf, neurodivergent and disabled artists on BBC iPlayer, this weekly roundup of opportunities for writers from Sian Meades-Williams, Alternative Classical's fortnightly newsletter containing all sorts of treats like job listings and concert recommendations, and the Ten Percent Happier podcast which offers free short meditations alongside some incredible interviews with practitioners working in mindfulness and meditation. Enjoy! 
Thanks for reading! I appreciate my space in your inbox, and I hope you have found something useful to take away with you. 

Until next time, with love, 
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Laura Attridge · 6 St Helens Square · York, North Yorkshire YO1 8QP · United Kingdom

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