Sunday, August 30, 2009

sour notes

When someone teaches you to sing, there are a lot of things to keep in mind. Sit up straight. Allow air to fill your diaphragm. Support the sound. Drop your jaw. Don't spread the sides of your mouth when you sing "meee." But like all training, when it's not explained properly, attempts to follow good advice can still produce bad results.

Like that whole diaphragm thing. What do they MEAN by that anyway? If you've never had it explained, it means nothing to you. "Sing louder!" they say. Simple enough, if you want us to lose our voices over the next hour or two. Even the concept of matching your sound with the rest of the group can be problematic.

For example. (I'm gonna try and bring you to my point, I swear) When I sing along with Wicked, if I match their vocal quality, which of course has been painted over with the personality of the character the singers are playing, I necessarily put strain on my voice because that's not the way I sound when I sing naturally. It's also nearly impossible not to sing loudly when you're singing songs from Wicked, and I'm not loud when I sing naturally. Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenowith are FABULOUS singers. I want to be a fabulous singer. Why can't I sing like them? Well, actually, I CAN, but not for very long. My voice gives out. Somewhere in the process of matching style and volume, the music moves from the comfortable places in my mouth and throat to very uncomfortable places.

So am I a bad singer? No, I'm not. Could I ever play the part of Elphaba? It might be that I never could. Not because I can't sing but because that character needs to be sung by someone with a voice that sounds different from mine.

Here's my point. There are a lot of things I wish I could do. Singing like Idina Menzel would be one of them, to be honest. But I also wish I was more confident. I wish I had more defined goals in life. I wish I was smarter. I wish I was quicker to process ideas and conversations. I wish I learned job skills faster. I wish I didn't get so distracted and lazy. I wish I was more motivated. I wish I didn't think about what I wish all the time. I see these things in people I like, people I look up to, people I think are worthy of imitation. And I look at myself and feel like a hopeless wreck that no one will ever want to hire, date, or get beyond the protective walls around my heart... because I fail so miserably at all of these things. They'll see me... and go and find someone else who's got those things in line already.

But I can sing. I have a very nice voice. It goes into uncontrollable spasms when I try to sing solo in any sort of formal setting, and it's not very loud, but it's actually very pretty in its own way. When I try to sing more like Imogen than Idina, I do all right.

I have a mental block when it comes to accepting myself the way I am. As I said not too long ago, "approving" myself. I see all my failures and I feel like I have to make up for them... but all I end up doing is making up a solution that seems to me barely more substantial than plastic wrap - you can see right through it. And the longer I try to keep it up, the hoarser I become. So rather than crack, I claim I've sung enough for one night... and retreat to heal. I push people away, reminding myself I obviously don't have this lesson down yet, so I must hold them at bay again until I've got it.

I see the sort of girl who's caught the eye of the sort of guy I'm looking for... and I'm nothing like her. Can't be like her even when I try. I see the sort of secretary that the bosses like to see in their office... and I'm nothing like her. Can't be like her even when I try. It'd be a brittle shell, a make-up job done by a five year old. But maybe I'm not supposed to be like her. There's no reason not to try to mature and grow into some of those things the right way, but I am what I am now, and I can't do anything about that with short notice... and shelling and making-up only puts off the real work, delaying any real results.

I need to learn to be okay with Jessica, August 30, 2009. Lots of people love her just the way she is; love her voice just the way it is. I'm not good at everything and I can't play every roll or get every guy or do well at every job... but I am good at things in my own way, and I forget that people love me the way I am anyway. And besides that, even when I'm rejected and fired and forgotten, even when all those people judge me with good reason... God picked me when He knew what I'd be like today, 10 years ago, 30 years from now. He thought I was worth saving. I'd do well not to argue with Him.

No comments: