A blog is a fragmented archive of personal development. It also causes one to cringe at times like bad bangs in a Facebook memory.
I recently re-read sending fear a friend request in 2016, where I reflected on getting my singing voice back after a long hiatus. When I wrote that I was excited and inspired. I thought I had finally gotten vocally “back in shape” and was eager to use this “muscle” I had neglected for so long. Technically and physically, I thought I was where I wanted to be. I was stealing the microphone in front of unsuspecting crowds at Queen Street restaurants, enthusiastically demonstrating that as a performer, I was worthy.
But it’s become obvious that in my singing, I was ignoring my own emotional and spiritual needs. I was falling back into old habits of pleasing others and pushing myself in directions I wasn’t really interested in.
My dedication to controlling myself and proving something held me back. I only sang songs I knew I could sing well because that was the only version of myself that I thought would be accepted. But in these efforts to perform with perfection, I actually became afraid of my own voice. I hid from it. It sounded okay and people liked it but it didn’t sound like me anymore.
I’ve found home in a choir recently. I googled “choirs in Toronto” and landed in one that focuses on music with social justice themes. In the midst of recent headlines, joining a choir with a basic level of “wokeness” – as the kids say, *winks* – is a really nice thing. Plus I’m the youngest member by about 30 years and as a self-proclaimed ‘old soul’, I can confidently say that I’ve found my people.
I’ve realized how much I missed singing with others. I missed following a conductor. I missed the warm up. I missed dotted quarter notes and half rests and 4/4 time. I missed the somber crescendos of Frozen in Frobisher Bay. I missed that moment when you lose yourself in the sound of others. That moment when the chorus becomes a soloist.
I’ve also started working with a new vocal coach who isn’t afraid of an uglier, messier, more vulnerable sound. In one way, it feels like we’re going back to the beginning. In another way, it’s totally new. I’m scared, but it feels right. She touched my neck in our first lesson and I immediately burst into tears. My throat had been holding in so much that opening it up again overwhelmed me and I couldn’t stop what came out. But it was also completely natural. Fun even!
The place I’m at right now feels kind of like a cocoon. The process might appear stationary from the outside. Inside, things are happening. I know I’m building up to something but I’m taking my time to get there.
And my voice – whatever it ends up sounding like, when I leave the cocoon – I want it to feel whole. I want it to be true. I’m taking a break from karaoke. If it’s not honest, I’m not interested.