I’ve always loved singing. When I was little, I used to want to sing on Broadway, or for Disney. And I’m not awful at it. But the truth is, I’m no rising star, either. Nor should I be. I like my private life much too dearly to sacrifice it for the chance of being on The Voice, let alone actually winning it. (Yeah, right! Like that’ll happen.)
But there’s more. In high school, especially in choir, I had a lot of expectations for myself. I wanted, among other things, a solo in at least one choral performance before my graduation day. I didn’t take choir class until my sophomore year, so I had left myself with only three years to achieve this goal. That alone wasn’t a good idea, since I had never had private vocal lessons, and many of my peers had. I wanted the honor, but had not prepared for it or worked toward it beyond singing in the shower or for my mom and her best friend.
But wait, there’s more where that came from. When I sing alone, without accompaniment, I might sound, well, as friends have put it, “sweet.” But in school, for example, when I sang in the concert choir and therefore was less able to distinguish my voice from everyone else’s, I kept hearing one voice sounding somewhat flat. For those who are unfamiliar with musical terminology, that means the notes I sang didn’t quite reach the pitch they were supposed to. But I didn’t “feel” as though I was the one who was singing “a little off.” I will never forget the annoyed looks I gave the soprano behind me on the risers, looks of exasperation that should have been directed at me. It wasn’t until I auditioned for a smaller choir called the Chamber Singers that I got the wake-up call I had needed for so long. The choir teacher graded us all on our auditions using a scoring sheet, and one of the criteria on that sheet was something like “pitch accuracy.” There were four possible scores I could have gotten: “A” represented perfect pitch; “B” represented minor flaws in pitch, which the singer had actively attempted to correct during the audition, though not with 100% success; “C” was a lot like “B,” but without the attempt to correct the flaws; and “D” basically represented that the singer had awful pitch and didn’t seem to care. I got a “C” on that criterion. That was the first time I had ever realized that that poor girl behind me wasn’t the culprit: I was!
Well, from that point on, I tried to fix the problem, and with a struggle, I actually got into the Chamber Singers in my senior year. I later found out that I had barely passed the audition phase, and I was hanging onto my membership in it by a thread. I think that was when I subconsciously started to give up the ambition to be a singer for a living. I was more interested in science and literature, anyway…
Nowadays, I’m no longer even a soprano, a singer who can reach (with perhaps obvious difficulty) the highest notes in Mozart’s Requiem. Many of my friends tell me that they, too, have lost the ability to sing the high notes many songs. It’s just a part of growing up, they’ve told me. Still, I resisted for awhile, and I sulked for a while longer when resisting proved futile, but I have now found happiness in the life of an alto. That’s the part for women with lower vocal ranges, by the way. My current vocal range is E3-D5. And I’ll probably never have a strong voice, nor one that can belt like the stars can. But at least, if I ever have a child (hopefully not too soon!), I’ll have a good enough voice to sing them some “sweet” lullabies at bedtime. And that’s enough for me.
So now I’m happy, just the way I am.
(Now, if only I could change the way I used to be… That would be a dream come true!)
On the subject of music, here’s a link to some brilliantly talented singers/musicians on YouTube who really rock my socks off!