Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sing It

Last week I was in my car, on my way home from work, feeling particularly positive, and singing out loud to the soundtrack from Glee.

(I sing loud and proud when I am alone in the car now, but keep quiet and just listen when others are with me.  I didn't used to really sing out loud when I was on my own either.  I didn't want to be the crazy looking singing driver.  Plus, my mother has told me since I was little that I am tone deaf, which I am not.  I can't sing, and don't proclaim to be able to, but I can hear just fine.)  

Instantly I remembered something my friend Melissa said to me when I was visiting San Antonio in October.  We were on our way to a restaurant in her car when a really good song came on the radio.  She started singing, but she's a singer with a degree in music, so I usually just listen to her voice in awe.  She wanted me to join in and I told her that I had been taught not to inflict my voice on others.  Then she said it.  The thing that just last week really sunk in, and brought me out of my funk.  She said it nonchalantly.  She just threw it out there.  

She said, "If you want to sing, then sing".  

So simple.  But right now I want to put it on an inspirational poster with a picture of people parachuting, or a kitten hanging upside down.  What she said to me in that moment was incredibly deep.  So deep that I continue to unravel the intricate ways it has affected me.  With that one phrase she said "I love you for who you are, screw it if you can't sing, let's have fun".  She said, "no one can dictate what you WANT to do, and if you WANT it, then DO it".  She said, "Life is short, so live it your own way".  Does she know that she said all of those things?  Probably not.  Does she know that I have been carrying those words around in my head ever since I realized their meaning? No.  Does she know that right now I am looking for my voice?  Looking for who I am in this world and how I want to leave my mark? Maybe.  But she probably doesn't know that when I am feeling pressured to do something I don't want to do, or be something I don't want to be, that her words run through my head.  

I am detaching from my perfectionist image and "good girl" persona and finding out who I AM, rather than who I am EXPECTED TO BE.  I kid you not, if you take these words and really let them soak in,  if you apply them to your own situation at the moment, they will be more inspirational than any fortune cookie wisdom or Mother Teresa quote.  

I'm going to blog more about Mel soon, given that August marks 20 years of friendship for us (and I have some embarrassing pictures from our childhood), but I had to get this out now.  I had to share it with you because I feel like the moment I let what she said sink in, I was the Lion from The Wizard of Oz.  I found my courage.  And not sharing it is not fair to you. You deserve it too.  

Now when I am driving along, windows down, belting out Proud Mary or Don't Stop Believing, I don't look at the other cars to see if their drivers are looking at me like I am crazy.  I don't think about the quality of my voice.  I just smile like the Cheshire cat.  Why?  Because I figured it out.  And there's no going back.  

If you want to sing, then sing.  

3 comments to blog for:

Debra said...

Well, you know, YES! It's actually kind of tiring to hear from people "Oh no, I can't sing!" or some other variation of what you wrote about not inflicting you voice on others. There is NO judgment attached to anyone's singing voice when they are singing for the fun of it. There's nothing to evaluate.

Also, people who say that don't know, and rarely believe me when I tell them, that it is actually something people can learn how to do. There is a technique to it. It's so silly, people don't know it's actually work. Nobody is born with perfect vocal technique. Your friend put all this work into her voice! Compare it to visual arts skills (see, you thought I was going to go with instrumental music, but no). Everyone knows that one has to study art and learn drawing technique and painting technique, etc., to get really good. But everyone can draw little pictures on the sides of their notebook pages if they want. It's not something for which your skill gets judged.

And furthermore! I have had many encounters with students who, when thinking they were trying just to make some sort of goofy sound, actually showed better tone quality and range than they thought they had. The biggest hindrance to progress in vocal technique is one's own fears and doubts and perceptions of being judged. So! Yes! Sing!

This is also why I love vocal technique: so applicable to all aspects of life and the self. And now the lemon cookies are done for GG-Ma's birthday event tomorrow. xoxo

Meghan said...

If that's an offer to teach me to sing, I just want to be good enough to get onto Glee and win a Tony for my performance as Glinda in Wicked. That's all, can we go ahead and make that happen?

Debra said...

Sure, no problem! Oh, and if you would like to ever video chat with my children (or Lawyer and me), we are set up via Google chat.