I am not really a group person. I am a people person. I like being around lots of people, a few people, one person… I love connecting with individuals. But the idea of letting a group represent me is one that has never settled well with me… Any group. Well, wait…okay, in typical Becca fashion, I am already thinking of exceptions to my overly broad claim- I am thankful to be a union member, I am grateful for political parties. I guess there isn’t time to do everything and some representation is helpful to get voices heard in the grand schemes of things. But, I like to think for myself. So, I don’t just agree with a view because it is what a group that I affiliate with supports. I decide and often that happens to fall within the vision of the group I am affiliated with. Oh! And, my family- the first group I was ever a member of- I am blessed to have been born into my family. And, my nation. Thank goodness for the many liberties I enjoy by virtue of living within these boundaries and being protected by many who give their lives (in a group) to defend these ideals. Here I am writing about how I am not a group person and all I keep thinking of are all of the groups I am grateful for…
The thing is-
I value the idea that every individual has a voice that is unique and deserves to be heard.
And, that is the part of groups that is sometimes so disconcerting for me. I fear that in groups, the individual may get overlooked or that the person may become lazy and let others think for him or her…
In the past, I will admit, there have been times when I have ‘rebeled’ against group mentality, in my own unobtrusive way, to the extent of not reciting things aloud with a group, among other innocuous activities. I don’t like to blindly say things just because someone else thinks I should, unless I really believe it, and, even then, saying it as a group does nothing for me. The exception to this would be for the purpose sharing a playwright’s vision (and if you give me enough time, I am sure I will come up with other worthy exceptions). To express someone else’s view in the world of theatre, to elevate or inspire an audience, through the words of a character as dictated by a playwright feels different, because every word written by a good playwright has a purpose. There is nothing thoughtless about the choosing of words in this artform.
Some people are hugely impacted by this idea of groups. They love cheering in a stadium for their favorite sports team, and I, too, like cheering on my home teams. However, it is the point at which people repeat for the sake of repeating, go along just to going along with a group, and, in any way, mindlessly follow a crowd, it is at this point that I feel uncomfortable.
Since I am on a roll with contradicting myself (see paragraph one), I will add that there have been a few times in my life, when I have felt unexpectedly blessed by the support of a community or group. Coming from a huge city, there are many small communities within it that one may relate to or be a part of. Moving from one big city to another big city can give one a sense of anonymity, some may feel isolated or alone. In moving to NYC, several years ago, I joined many classes (I know- more groups) and have worked so much that I never have had much time to feel alone. Even as I walk as a stranger among individuals in NYC, I never feel alone. There is always someone nearby to comment about the cab driver who was not off-duty, but refused to pick me up, or someone to ask for directions when I come out of the subway and have been momentarily turned around. Individuals are always around me. I have no problem talking to someone sitting next to me on public transportation or in the park. New York is like that. And, I love that.
In writing music and performing my songs- just me and my guitar, it has been a wonderful journey in feeling comfortable enough to share my own voice- to sing my thoughts to the rafters of a room, to the back walls of a theatre filled with people I’ve yet to meet… This has been a gift. On this singer/songwriter journey, I have been performing on my own.
Recently, I have been also rehearsing with a group of women, and brilliant composer and musical director, Phil Hall, who make up The PhilHallmonics, formerly known as The PhilHallmonic Society. So, on nights when I am not performing with my guitar and singing solo, I have had the wonderful opportunity to sing with this extraordinarily talented group of women. At first, this began like other rehearsal experiences- learning music, staging, costume fittings, etc… But then, I noticed something that caught me by surprise- I felt good being a part of this group. This doesn’t feel like the- let’s rehearse for a few weeks or 10 days and put on a show and then on to the next one- kind of group. This feels like people who truly care about others in the group. It was a weird feeling for me because I do so much happily on my own. I am not used to feeling like a part of a group (despite all of the wonderful groups I am a part of…Maybe it is the Gemini in me that leads to such dichotomous points of view…). Though I have only been rehearsing with them for a few weeks, this group feels like an extended family. With my own family so far from where I am, this has been a really touching experience.
So, though I am not into group ideologies or having my individualism squashed by gaggles of people, I feel lucky to be a part of this group. What a gift to feel like without your voice, the harmony would incomplete, and to know that, as a whole, your voices soar together.
I am grateful for so much this past year- playing my first set of my own music, performing all over NYC, having wonderful family and friends who support me, (all those groups I mentioned that I am glad I am a part of even though I am not a group person), and this new group of amazing individuals who are sharing their talent and friendship with me.
The PhilHallmonics are performing at Lincoln Center on December 1st at 2pm. For more information, please send me an email- firstname.lastname@example.org
And, please feel free, as always, to share your own experiences and feedback in the comment section