As my Cleveland readers know, I’m in a band. We have drums, guitar (acoustic and electric), keyboard, clarinet/sax/flute and three-part harmony (sometimes). We do some covers and some original works. We rock, if I do say so myself. We even have a Facebook page.
We have a large-scale concert coming up (think 300-400 people), and it has been dominating my (our) life (lives). We’ve been rehearsing twice a week and practicing a ton on our own. It’s going to be a-MAZ-ing. In addition to performing as we usually do, we’re also incorporating a women’s choir (we got a great response to that – thanks ladies!! Can’t wait to see you perform!), a couple of guest artists and we even ran a songwriting contest (we’re deciding the winner THIS Wednesday…ooo the anticipation). It is a big deal.
Why am I telling you all this (besides that I think it’s really cool)? Because not too long ago, I was listening to a mother complain about how her daughter was very talented musically, but because she was frum, she was “stifled” and was “never going to be able to express herself.” (Being frum, she’s not going to perform on Shabbos, and being a girl, she’s not going to sing in front of men) Usually not one to say anything in these situations, I piped up and mentioned that I was also very musical . She said,
“You must feel so frustrated.”
“No, not so much,” I countered. “I just had to find the opportunities to use my abilities in this context.”
“But she doesn’t have any opportunities” she counter-countered
“Then she should make them for herself.” I finished.
Yes, I’m never going to perform on SNL (um, I probably wasn’t going to do that ever, anyways), or play a Friday-night gig, but I can work with what I’ve got. And so can a lot of other women, like my friends Shoshana, Moran, and Chanale and Shaindel Antelis, for instance.
Having performed for mixed audiences in my pre-frum days, I must say I love playing for only women. A room entirely full of ladies is a completely different experience, and has a much warmer feel. I feel like I can let my hair down (not that I do that, either!).
When you think about it, frum foodies are limited by kashrus, frum fashionistas are limited by tznius, and so we’ve all created our own little worlds of fancy kosher cookbooks and Project Frumway. Vive la difference!
Frumkeit notwithstanding, being a mommy has also drastically altered what I can and cannot do. For instance, I cannot practice with my toddler in the room. Well, I can when I bribe him with my plastic recorder (yes, the one you learned to play in grade school). When I did that on Friday he very happily ran around the apartment, tooting away, much to the chagrin of my eardrums.
But being a frum mommy has not kept me from collaborating with some seriously talented musicians, and I hope to be able to jam for many, many years. I think that every woman has her own unique skill set which, when nurtured, can enhance her life and the lives of those around her. It’s a matter of finding the right outlet for it, and I think with enough stick-to-it-iveness, anyone can find a way to flourish.
Who are some women you know who have harnessed their abilities in an effective way?