Monday, May 07, 2007

Singing, The Next ...

On Saturday, I reached a milestone.

I wrote an e-mail to Iva and included a link to my little work in progress.

As I said to him in my note, I realized how far I'd come on my musical journey when I realized that I was willing to share my song with real musicians. My song, my unobsessed-over, not-close-to-perfect song. It's a huge step for me to not only own up to something imperfect but to share it.

Of course, after I hit Send, I had a momentary moment of "Holy crap! I just sent my song to Iva!" But there's no way to take it back, not that I would if I could.

Some might not understand the momentousness of this moment. Allow me to explain:

I've always wanted to sing. For as long as I could remember. For my kindergarten graduation, we sang. Throughout grade school, we sang. For the Christmas programs at church, we sang. I remember being a part of chorus in, what?, fourth grade? And every year from then on until my freshman year of high school. I gave up after that because I hated the teacher. It's hard to pursue something artistic in a hate-filled environment.

But one night, I was in the basement, sitting in front of my brother's stereo, wearing his headphones and singing along. Hearing only the music in my ears, I didn't detect anyone else in the basement until one of my brothers poked his head into the den. For the life of me, I can't remember which brother it was. But I remember what he said: "Oh yeah, that sounds real good."

And that was the night I stopped singing.

I'm sure he just thought he was being funny. Brothers exist to chide their little sisters. But that night, those words dashed my dream. They made me fearful to let anyone hear me sing. Irrational, sure, but a perfectionist's fear is to be found lacking.

Every day, I receive a Daily Inspiration e-mail from Daily Om. Today's message began: "Words carry energy and this gives language its power and its potential to heal or hurt."

I've had little breakthroughs over the years. In my Theater Arts class in high school, each student had to pick a song and perform it, a cappella, as Mr. Sweeney, our teacher, brought in others singing their songs. The exercise was meant to teach us the importance of maintaining our character on stage, how to not be influenced by others actors and their actions. Or, that day, to stay in our song.

I chose the Howard Jones tune Hide and Seek. In retrospect, it wasn't a great choice because of the pace of the song. It's rather slow and there are lots of musical interludes which I needed to listen to in my head so I could sing the right notes at the right times. But at the time, it was a good choice because Tim (our teacher) seemed fascinated by it. Other students only sang a few bars of their songs up front but Tim had me sing a lot of mine. And I did. And I liked that he liked it, if not my voice, at least my choice.

And in college, I sang a little bit for a friend in a dorm room. And when I worked at the Tribune, I sang a few notes for a musical friend one night as I drove him home. Not enough for him to really hear me, not loud enough or long enough. But I did it.

And then I recorded myself one night about five years ago on a microcassette recorder. Note to all would-be singers: Do not record your voice on any such device. You won't be recording yourself in any useful way, and you'll have your hopes crushed like a boot grinding a Marlboro into the earth.

And somewhere in there, I started taking voice classes, hoping they would help me get over my fear of singing in public. They didn't, really.

You know what gets you over your fear of singing in public?

Singing in public.

Which I've done, both as part of the voice class and as part of an open mic.

And it was scary. But it was also fun.

So I've wended my way down this path, past many little obstacles, many of which did not feel so little at the time, and I've continued to put one foot in front of the other, though often at a slow pace. But who's to say what pace is the right one? I was supposed to have a session tonight but Brian had to reschedule until later in the week.

I take it as a good sign that I'm so eager to get back into the booth.

Someday, we'll have this CD finished. And it will be interesting to see what comes next.


Anonymous girl and dog said...

You know, when I was a teenager, my brother would give me grief about being "too fat". I finally lost all the weight and he gave me grief about being "too thin". I listened to him (duh) and felt awful, until one day I thought: Well, who died and made HIM an authority on weight? But his words had a very strong impact on me for a looooooong time.

You should feel so proud for having the courage to sing! I'm sure you'll go far!

12:03 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Yup, it's crazy how much the words of others can affect us. If we let them. I, for one, never seem to be prepared with my Wonder Woman deflector cuffs. Eventually, we get past those words. But in the meantime, oy.

I do feel proud, thanks! It's amazing to me how tackling a challenge in one area of my life informs my courage in other areas of my life.

12:38 PM  

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