I really did. It’s almost 3 years since I put this blog up. I think it was because I was singing a lot that I avoided doing it much or I didn’t know what to write. Yesterday a new student came in for a consult with her mother. They were happy to meet me and excited to talk voice but they were confused as to who I am and how I came to sing and teach the way I do. I am going to use this blog to explain the method I teach, tell stories about my learning and singing experiences and about other singers I have met along the road that have really shown me ….me through my voice.
I will start at 6 on the floor of my mother’s house sitting between two speakers of my father’s Hi-Fi stereo singing “You Can Sing a Rainbow” by Andy Williams. My father thought I could sing. I could. He had wanted to sing. He didn’t have the voice maybe or the opportunities to do it and so sneaking around listening to me in my room sing to my dollies, my brother and the dog he decided I would learn that song and learn it well. I would sing for him. I would be the one to make it. I would do it for him. For what seemed like years he drilled the words, the music, the meaning into me. I was little and bored easily and the song made me cry… a lot for some reason. Music still does that to me. It makes me weep for no good reason but the sound of the song.
So, this one day after being drilled by the voice torturer that was my father, I stood up and told him I’d had enough. I told him I’d never sing that song again. I haven’t. I can’t without crying for the desire he had for me to do what he didn’t, for the little girl in my not sure she was doing anything but having fun using her voice and for never having sung that for him at all. Indeed from that day forward, I avoided singing in front of him entirely I did it to keep him at bay. He never didn’t criticize me. Even after concerts or shows, he’d go on over pizza bout what I did wrong. He’d do it now if he were here and now, I ‘d just giggle. I do forgive him now he was so broken.
When I was a teenager this was like torture. He’d compete with me to see if I were louder or had a higher range than he did. For years he vanquished me. Then I got lessons.
One day, at Christmas time over cookie baking and now a strong 19-year-old with at least three years of serious classical study under my belt the Hllelujah Chorus from the Messiah came on in the other room blaring from the Hi-Fi he still loved. It did every Christmas. He played the same albums each year. As always the challenge occurred in the kitchen, the whole family there making cookies assembled as his audience. This was his favorite thing to challenge me on because he liked to compete. He liked to win. You can beat a kid.
Cigarette in hand he’d croak up to the high baritone range and say, “See I beat ya!”. He’d laugh and humiliate me and say I wasn’t the singer, he was the singer. I had his talent he gave it to me.
This time I was ready for him. I told my mother I was going to really sing him out of the kitchen. We started and he, puffing away on his Winston was sure he was in command…but I waited. I am a Mezzo-Soprano but the range in that piece of music is not too high for any soprano and so I began. I took the proper breath and set my throat up to soar. I began soft and as we got to, “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” I let him have it. Higher and higher I went. Bigger and bigger was the sound. Placed, open, clean, on pitch and BAM! I beat him.
He looked defeated, tail between his legs. Walked away. That made my mother smile and my brother high-fived me. He did that to my brother’s guitar/bass playing as well. That day I lost all fear of singing. I get butterflies and I do obsess and worry over my work. However, now, after that, after 13 years of that man brow-beating me into silence. After that, I was free.
I teach people how to not be afraid. I feel that if I survived that kind of scrutiny no one in the audience could ever be so mean. Well, maybe they could but I don’t’ have to go home with them, no one in the audience is my father so I am safe. Safe in front of strangers who just let me sing!