Tuesday, July 19, 2016


After all this time spent with my vocal instructor, she finally laid the law down at my last lesson and told me, "you're singing an actual song today." I've been doing nothing but vocal exercises for so long but never was ready to make that leap.
If you've never had vocal lessons, let me tell you that there are some very strange exercises out there. First starting, I was quite self-conscious doing them because they distort your face in odd ways and some just have you making strange buzzing sounds and blowing your lips out really hard. But I overcame and now think nothing of it. Being silly with it makes it easier. But the thought of actually attempting a real song in a real way, without being silly, has been a roadblock for a while. It's terrifying. There's a lot of vulnerability in it. But, as I said, she laid down the law and I had no choice.

As I was unable to come up with a song, she picked for me. I'll tell you that the songs we did were certainly not what I had in mind when I started trying to sing. But you have to start somewhere, and thus we started with two songs that were in a comfortable range for me.
"You know what song would work great with your voice? 'Loveshack!' "
Now, I said above that neither song I ended up singing was what I had in mind...but it's freakin' "Loveshack." Everyone loves to sing that (ridiculous) song. It also has the bonus of a female part so my instructor could do that and I could do the male part. Doing a duet made me more comfortable about the whole ordeal.
"Loveshack" was done on a karaoke machine and the volume of it made me more comfortable singing. Part of my singing problem is a confidence issue when you can hear too much of just my voice. I can just belt it out along with the radio while I'm in the car and (mostly) be on key, but as soon as you cut the volume off, my voice withdraws back into my body like a scared turtle. So I think the loud machine was a good stepping stone.

The next song was "The Dance" by Garth Brooks. I'm not much into country, despite living in Nashville for so long (there's a lot more here than country, if you're not aware), but I grew up with my parents listening to country in the 80s and 90s and there are a few songs from back then that I like. This happens to be one of them. As we decided on the song she says, "now we are going back to the piano, you're going to play this song and sing it...I'll face away from you if it will make you more comfortable." And that is exactly how it went down. I managed to make it through the entire song and didn't feel it was a complete disaster. She was oddly excited and, seemingly, proud that I had made the steps I had, but instead of feeling proud about it myself, mostly I was thinking, "I'm never going to have a strong, interesting voice like I dreamed." I try to shove that thought aside the many times is comes to mind. Negativity is never going to get me anywhere.

Now, I've done plenty of piano performances at this point in my life, and I'm never really nervous about them. Even my first performance when I was only ~6 months into learning wasn't bad. I get a few butterflies leading up to it, but once I'm at the piano, I zone out and take care of business. I'm told I look very angry when I play, but that's just me focusing. My expression probably isn't helped by the fact that I have a default "resting bitch face" though...
Despite my playing piano in front of groups of people without nervousness, singing in front of ONE person - who has by now seen me and heard me do some WEIRD stuff - was dreadful. And she had her back to me!
I knew as I finished that I had been nervous but, as I reached up to scratch my brow, I felt my forehead and it was COVERED in sweat. My eyebrows were damp if that tells you how much. That gave me a new respect for live performers. Not that my respect was low; vocal classes has pretty much raised my awe of singers each time I go to class. Granted, I'm sure most of them are far more confident in their voice than I so they might not have quite as much inner turmoil about performing.

I'm supposed to be working on the country song for our next class and hopefully by then some of the mistakes I made I can manage to remedy. We'll see in a few days.