I once loved to sing. When I was in elementary school, I joined the choir and performed in the school play a number of times. Although only a member of the ensemble, I still enjoyed being part of the productions and singing songs. In middle school, I joined the choir for a year before choosing orchestra as my music class.
Here I am at 9 years old, being silly with my sister. At this point of my life I very much still believed I could sing!
In 6th grade, I remember loving choir class. One day we were given an assignment. We were each to choose a song that we would sing solo to the class. I was very excited. I think at that point I still had the mindset that anything was possible, which may have included my potential career as a singer. Anyway, I distinctly remember the song I chose while driving to work today – it was “A Song For Mama” by Boyz II Men. I must have chosen it because it doesn’t contain any difficult, high-pitched notes (even though I was a Soprano back then). Funnily enough, the song’s tonal range actually quite suits my current voice range, which is lower than what it was at the age of 11.
I remember the afternoon distinctly. I had come home from school, and was practicing “A Song For Mama” at the dining table at home. My mom heard me singing and asked what I was doing. I said I was practicing a song to perform in choir. She chuckled and said, “Don’t think about becoming a singer as your profession.”
It may have been just a quick side comment that she let slip, but I very recently realized that that phrase has stayed with me up until now. Since that day, my confidence in singing slowly waned, and I rarely sang in public in a performance setting. I only ever sang in the shower or around friends for fun.
There were a few short periods of time throughout my young adult life when I reconnected with singing, especially with accompaniment of my ukulele, but I always harbored the idea that I didn’t sing well. I could sing with correct pitch, but other than that, I found my singing voice to be nothing special. I am trying to reverse this misguided notion now. I am learning slowly that while my voice may not be able to reach the widest tonal range, there is a range that I am able to sing in, and my voice has a special warm quality to it when I sing in that range.
I’m starting to share my singing voice more. I may post some more covers/songs on YouTube if I muster up the courage. I watched a TEDx video recently that said that singing soothes one’s body in many ways. The vibrations lead one to feel good, and has even been proven in some studies to improve certain ailments. I also believe using one’s voice to sing is related to using one’s voice to speak up. The more comfortable you are singing around others, the more comfortable you will be speaking your truth. Which, if you haven’t picked up by now, I find paramount.
Moral of the story is, I’m sure we’ve all had comments made to us when we were younger that have stuck with us in one way or another. Whether justifiably or not. But I nudge you to remember that those comments were likely a one-time occurrence, made by someone who wasn’t aware of the consequences of their words. Someone who probably did not intend to cause much serious harm. Try not to let it affect you. You may not even be aware of it, as I was unaware of the effect of my mother’s words to the joy I once had and am now rediscovering in singing. Remember that the only person who gets to determine your experience of life is yourself. Be unapologetic, be bold, be freely yourself. After all, you are the only one who can guarantee your own true happiness.