The performing arts, growth, and Fireflies by Owl City: A blog by Michael Thurston

For almost 15 years, my entire life has been surrounded by performance. From just 5 years old, I had the courage to go up in front of the whole K-8 school and sing Fireflies by Owl City.

(Yes, I absolutely killed it. Are you kidding? I was the coolest kindergartner in the country.) The exhilaration, the attention, the silence, it was like the world was wrapped around my little chubby finger. (I wasn’t that chubby I just have the shortest fingers. My guitar career was tragically cut short.)

After that show stopping performance, exciting, new opportunities rose in an instant. I joined the Boys’ Choir of Springfield under Chordal Director, Mark Lawley, who would later become one of the most influential people in my early life. He introduced to me the true joy of not only performance, but in life: to find the smallest things and finding the absolute wonder in their existence. Whether it be the sun shining, watching a stranger smile back to you on the street or from the audience, or just the realization of where you are right now and being thankful for everything that got you there. This was the foundation of everything I based every performance on in anything that I did in my life.

Performance never felt like a simple or separation action or event. Performance is a mindset. However, it is a completely unnatural mindset to most, if not all, people. (Considering that polls show that most people have a greater fear of public speaking than dying, I can say that statement with a good amount of confidence.)

To me, a performance mindset involves one major characteristic: AWARENESS. If I am to perform well in any circumstance, I have to be aware of my surroundings and more importantly, myself. It is so crucial to not be afraid to discover yourself in the arts. I am overly aware of my habits prior to big events or concerts, and I know how to minimize my worse habits and encourage my good ones.

My goal this season for each and every student that walks into Marshfield Community Theatre is to find their own version of a performance mindset. I want them to discover more about themselves and their voice and really take note of the little things. I also want them to be more aware of really where they and live in that moment, especially now when it is so easy and natural to find yourself somewhere else with the press of a button. I want them to feel so confident in themselves and in each other when they take the stage. I believe that giving them the mindset of a professional performer is the greatest tool that I can give them to give them the most fun and the most fulfillment from this experience.

Needless to say, that this performance experience is absolutely invaluable no matter what field one intends to pursue. My Business Communications professor pulled me aside to ask what I do to engage the audience so adeptly, and I knew that my heavy background in music performance was the sole contributor to that. She then mentioned how numerous students with music backgrounds thrive in her public speaking and presentation projects throughout the year. This goes for many other disciplines to, including Engineering, Medicine, Psychology, Mathematics, and English. (Check out some studies done in some academic journals or ask anyone in the Missouri State Music Department. It was eye-opening!) This also does not mention the fact that music performance experience is actually a great résumé builder. Every interview I have had for jobs or colleges involved at the VERY least one question regarding my music experience and it was something I was able to talk about for at least 5-10 minutes. It shows a great level of character and personality that many other clubs or activities does not show.

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