I was extremely foolish. During my book launch, I auditioned for Guys and Dolls and landed the part of one of the male leads, Nathan Detroit. This is my first acting role with substantial dialog (read: more than one line), and I’ll be singing parts with the ensemble, and dancing. These are all new or very young skills for me.

Being unbelievably self-absorbed and analytical, I pay close attention to what helps me learn and do everything I can to speed my learning whenever possible. For example, I’ve noticed when singing parts, I like to hear (a) my part alone with the music, (c) my part in all quarter notes (to purely “get” the intervals), and (d) the whole piece with all parts in place so I can hear the context. With that toolkit, my brain can quickly learn a part.

What’s rather mind-blowing is that my conscious mind is very visual. When it comes to music, everything happens in my subconscious mind. So we’ll rehearse a part, I’ll have trouble with an interval or an entrance, and we’ll go over it slowly. Then my brain will just suddenly get it. Only I don’t know when I’ve got it. I have no sense of “knowing” the part; it just happens that next time through the song, it comes out of my mouth correctly.

This doesn’t exactly do wonders for my confidence, since my “knowing that I know” feeling doesn’t go off when it comes to auditory learning. But apparently, I am reasonably good at learning in that system. Wow.

Have you ever had anything similar happen?

Learning to sing parts—unconsciously?

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