AWW, just look at this baby gorilla, singing out full throttle!* What an inspiration! I’ve longed to sing like that my whole life, but I’ve had a teensy-tiny little problem: I hate my voice!
I mean, I LOVE to sing, and I do great in the kitchen or in the car, by myself with a CD playing at full blast. Put me in a group, though – at church or when Christmas caroling or even singing “Happy Birthday” – and I get stuck somewhere between the sopranos and men’s part. I reach UP for one and down for the other and, not finding a note I can sing, I end up lip-syncing half the song. It takes all the fun out of it and I end up saying, “I hate my voice.”
When I became friends with an accomplished voice teacher (who’d even sung at Lincoln Center in New York a number of times), I kept this to myself, letting her think I had little interest in singing. But on my birthday one year, she wished to do something special to celebrate and asked what I might like.
“You want to know what I would really like?” I opened the hymnbook on my piano to one of my favorites and said, “I would like to be able to sing this song.”
She glanced at it. “You know that song already.”
“Yes, I know it, but I can’t SING it.”
She moved to the piano bench and played it, then went back to the beginning and, going note-by-note, helped me find a note to sing for each syllable. She also gave me some tips on pronunciation and breathing. Less than ten minutes later, we sang it through together several times. By the end, I had sung my part enough that when she broke away and sang soprano, I was able to stick with the note that was mine. Sounded good and it was fun!
It was the first time I had an experience of joy and a feeling of accomplishment in singing, probably because I was finally singing in my own voice.
I regularly encounter people who are struggling to operate in their sphere of giftedness for much the same reason – they are straining to sing in someone else’s voice rather than their own. If they are fortunate, like I was, someone comes along to help them find their range and abilities and to operate within them in comfort and joy, enabling them to singing out full throttle.
Are you singing out today in the voice you’ve been given? I hope so!
*The recent discovery of an estimated 125,000 lowland gorillas in parts of the Congo have boosted the hopes of worldwide wildlife conservationists. To read about it, click here.