Friends of this blog know I have taken voice lessons for 7 years and twice a year we have a recital (one at Christmas, one in May). At first I dreaded the recitals but they became something I enjoyed, something I was actually kind of good at. I’m not the greatest singer in the world but I think I’m a pretty good performer. If I was a better dancer I could probably get a part in a show (something I would love to do one of these days)
Anyway, after 7 years you start to get a little bored doing the broadway cannon of songs and I’ve branched out to Jazz (At Last), Pop (Gravity), Standards (Over the Rainbow, Moon River), and Christian Pop (Blessings).
What I had never done is try to sing acapella. Always looking for a challenge I decided to give it a go. I happened to be talking with a girl on twitter about songs that might be interesting acoustically and I suggested Billy Joel’s The Longest Time, which has been a favorite song of mine for many years. When I was in college a girl had a guy serenade her with the song and I thought it was the most romantic thing I’d ever seen. (hint, hint boys!).
As I was talking about it I realized it would be the perfect song to attempt acapella because it was written as a du-wop acapella song. I worked on it and honestly memorizing it was the hardest part because the verses were easily to jumble together. I had it together to surprise people at master class in April and then worked on it some more in May.
I went on my trip and all the sudden started to feel nervous that I would mess things up. I even messaged my teacher to see if I should sing Be Still My Soul which I had just performed. She encouraged me to stick with Longest Time and so I practiced as much as I could and came up with a little percussion using a jar and spoon to help me with the song (and made it sort of a vacation feel I thought).
I was oddly not as nervous as I could stop and start, change things around if I had too. Acapella may be the improv of singing!
Well, this is how it turned out. Unfortunately the video doesn’t ever show my face (stupid on my part on who I asked to film and where they were seated). So just listen and enjoy.
I’m not a professional singer by any means. It is just for fun so don’t be too hard on me. Hope you enjoy it!
Today turned out to be a fun day. It is another example of when I’m tired and don’t feel like doing something I should always do it! (Remind me of that the next time I am feeling lazy). Monday’s are always hard for me. Even working from home the weekend never seems long enough. There is so much to do and so much work to get caught up on that it can feel overwhelming.
To add to my normal Monday mood today I had a voice lesson followed by our summer recital. I sang Let Me In from the film Rigoletto (not associated with the opera aside from a similar storyline but updated). Its a beautiful, haunting song that most people are unfamiliar with, so I really enjoyed singing it. Its also one I know very well so in my busy open water season I didn’t have to worry too much about it (although I did fumble the words in one spot. Nerves!).
After the recital I had tickets to see Bill Medley of Righteous Brother’s fame at the Scera Shell in Orem. I get season tickets every year because they are such an insane deal. 10 events (3 plays, 7 concerts) for $75. Less if you are a student. I’ve had tickets for most of the time I’ve lived in Utah and each year they get better acts and more polished theatrical productions. The big draw this year was Josh Turner in July but I am also looking forward to Richard Marx at the end of this month. I have seen him once before at Scera and really enjoyed it.
Anyway, I had tickets but I felt exhausted just thinking about the recital let alone the concert. I offered them to my friend Rachel but she didn’t want to go and then on my way to the recital she changed her mind and encouraged me to go so I agreed. It ended up raining through most of the show but we had a good time anyway. If anything it made it more memorable with the rain (and for $7.50 you can hardly complain about a concert especially by a Hall of Fame singer!).
All in all it ended up being a good day, which I am grateful for.
Here’s the video of my song.
The end got cut off and I flubbed a line of lyrics but I think it turned out pretty well. (I’m not a professional singer. I just dabble at it for fun). The other day I added up what I have spent over the years on voice lessons and it is kind of staggering; however I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It has given me confidence and provided a creative outlet from the hum-drums of my sometimes all too unexciting life.
If you can learn anything from me cultivate what talents you have. Try new things. Be creative. I love what President Uchtdorf says about creating things. It is one of our deepest yearnings and we all need to find our own ways to make our mark on the world. Even if it is just dopey little recitals every couple of months, it is creating something:
The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before.
Everyone can create. You don’t need money, position, or influence in order to create something of substance or beauty.
Creation brings deep satisfaction and fulfillment. We develop ourselves and others when we take unorganized matter into our hands and mold it into something of beauty—and I am not talking about the process of cleaning the rooms of your teenage children.
You might say, “I’m not the creative type. When I sing, I’m always half a tone above or below the note. I cannot draw a line without a ruler. And the only practical use for my homemade bread is as a paperweight or as a doorstop.”
If that is how you feel, think again, and remember that you are spirit daughters of the most creative Being in the universe. Isn’t it remarkable to think that your very spirits are fashioned by an endlessly creative and eternally compassionate God? Think about it—your spirit body is a masterpiece, created with a beauty, function, and capacity beyond imagination.
I couldn’t have summed up these 7 years of voice lessons better!
So I just realized I haven’t updated the blog for a week. Shame on me! I am sure all of you my loyal blog readers have been sitting at home wondering when I was going to unleash my creativity and wisdom on you again… (LOL. Wouldn’t that be the life!). I have actually at down several times to write but couldn’t come up with anything to say. I guess you might say I had writers block.
If you ever have any topics you would like me to research, opine on, please suggest! I suppose when you’ve been blogging for 5 years it isn’t much of a surprise you eventually run out of topics at the ready beckon call. Need help from all of you!
Of course we had the horrible tragedy in Oklahoma with the tornado this week. I was shocked by the photos and video. Naturally I thought of my friend Jani who was my roommate in 2000 and has lived in Oklahoma for the last 10 years. I saw her last year after a long loss of contact (just lost emails). I emailed her on Tuesday to see if she was ok and she sent me the following response:
Can you believe this:
“The greatest need is prayers right now. I’ve heard of some members homes being heavily damaged and some others haven’t been able to get to their homes yet. Most don’t have electricity, and water is low pressure or not on yet. At the stake center, a few blocks north of the area, they are collecting water and boxes so people can collect things from the rubble. Our home is ok and we have water turned on again but we can’t drink it. We’ve had a few friends stay and just sleep or use the internet or electricity to charge stuff. There is a constant sound of helicopters and sirens–its a constant reminder of the critical situation out there. I’m sure once the neighborhoods are opened up there will be a great need for volunteers to clean up. It’s going to take a while. I haven’t heard of any fatalities in the ward or stake but there are complete losses of property. I will get in touch with our rs president again and let you know if there is anything they need. She’s been busy, as you can imagine. It’s sad to see much of our community just gone. We love Moore and the people of Oklahoma!”
Please keep them in your prayers and find little ways to help. I was really hoping for a way and then out of the blue the Red Cross called me yesterday to individually ask me to donate blood on Friday. This was kind of amazing because I haven’t given blood in probably three years so I’m shocked they had my number. My veins are so small and wiggly that I have hesitated in the past (last time I donated I was battled and bruised). Anyway, I am O- and they said they particularly needed that so I am happy to give it a go and try to help. I felt like it was a blessing to find a way to help those in need instead of just watching the news. Cross fingers I can actually donate and my veins will cooperate.
On other news we had my spring recital today. It was a great time and my Dad was in town and came to see me. I didn’t get a video this time but here is a recording I made of singing the song just a few minutes ago.
I sang Make You Feel My Love by Bob Dylan as sung by Adele (no small order!). I’m not saying I could make American Idol but I don’t think you would be running for the hills, covering your ears. I was able to get the character of the song which made me happy. (I wish I had a recording just so you can see that).
Regardless of how it turns out the whole experience of recitals and voice lessons is so positive. It makes me feel like I am progressing, learning, and contributing something beautiful to the world. I work in accounting, which I am grateful for but not exactly the most creative thing. It feels so good to get out there, work on a song from ilk to all right, and hear the positive feedback (btw, if you hate it, keep it to yourself!)
Other Random Things-
Comcast has been making me crazy (also part of the reason I haven’t been posting this week, been on the phone with Comcast or having weak to no internet). After 4 hours today I think we finally figured it out. Prayers! At least I have the phone number of the technician so no more call center nightmares and drives up to Lindon to get new equipment (went through 5 modems before we figured out the gateway channel was full presumably with others from my building). Sigh
Working on getting ready for GSL swim in just a few weeks. I don’t feel nearly ready but I’m going to give it a go. Did a 1200 in a long course pool on Saturday, so that felt good. This taking it slow thing is sort of nerve-wracking and I’m trying to not get nervous. I keep telling myself if I fail, so what. My friends love me. That said, I don’t think I will fail. 🙂
Learned a big lesson at the house Monday. My roommate had her car in the street and I hadn’t read an email from the HOA about towing cars on the street starting Monday. You can guess the ending of the story. Her car got towed and it cost us $264.50! Isn’t that nuts? Double sigh…
As a proud tea party conservative I am horrified at the IRS targeting of tea party groups. I attended many rallies in perhaps the most conservative area of the country, Provo, Utah and never felt anything but peaceful, love of country. Practically the only thing discussed was cutting spending. Honestly you didn’t hear at the tea party about pro-life, 2nd Amendment or other conservative hot buttons. It was without a doubt the most patriotic and positive experience I’ve had as an American and the fact that these people have been targeted makes me nuts. It is wrong and it will not blow over and be forgotten if I have any say in the matter.
So, turns out I had a lot to talk about. Maybe I should always wait a week. 😉
Hope you are all doing well. How’s life treating you?
Any reader of mine knows I take voice lessons. I do it for my own enjoyment and creative enrichment. I am not the greatest singer in the world but I get a lot from it and that’s all that matters to me. To me it is the most satisfying thing to start a song and have it be pretty awful and after working on it for a few weeks it is listenable.
I’ve seen great improvement over the years and if you look at some of my past videos and compare it with today’s I think you can see that.
So today was the summer recital (we have 3 a year, spring, summer and Christmas) and I decided to sing If I Were a Bell from Guys and Dolls. It is a relatively easy song but the lyrics are very similar from verse to verse and it kept tripping me up. Thankfully with lots of practice I got through it at the recital without any lyrical problems. Phew!
The video doesn’t do it quite justice but the crowd seemed to really enjoy it. I hope you do too! 🙂
As any reader to this blog knows I take voice lessons. Amazingly enough I have been taking the lessons for the last 6 years! My teacher is Amanda Crabb and I work with her through Hale Center Theater Orem. Its a drive for me but I signed up when I lived in Orem and Amanda and I have become so close that I couldn’t go to anyone else.
After 6 years of singing I have practically exhausted the broadway cannon so lately I’ve been trying some other genres like pop or jazz. Its been a lot of fun. I’d be able to do even more if I could play the piano. I’m pretty good at finding back tracks but I wish I could play the piano (and yes I own one but can’t really play it!).
It might seem strange to you that a grown women takes voice lesson for no practical reason. It is something I do that is purely selfish. It makes me happy and that’s enough of a reason for me. It all started when I was super unhappy with my work and life in 2006. I needed to find something to think about besides work. I think I went to a show at Hale and saw the ad for lessons and I figured ‘Why not? It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. Why not?’ So I started. My first teacher was Dallyn Bayles and then I got Amanda about a year later.
Taking lessons is one of the most satisfying things I do. Each week is a like a little pep talk where I get so much positive reinforcement ( you know how some people are fans of tough love. Me, not so much). Anyway, its so gratifying to hear a song the first time through and its awful but after a few weeks its passable.
Now, I’m not saying I’m going to win American Idol or be on Broadway but I don’t think people would cover their ears when they hear me sing either. For years I was told that I didn’t have a pretty voice, that I wasn’t good enough to ‘really sing’, so for me finishing a song is a affirmation of the dreams I had in high school that were stomped on by unforgiving teachers.
Because of the negative feedback I’d received as a child the first time I sang in a recital I was so nervous. I told Dallyn that ‘I’m an adult and you can’t make me sing’. The funny thing is I’ve now found after 12+ recitals that it is something I am actually good at. I always have my best performance in recital and the theatrics are easy for me to get into. (It makes me want to do another play. I’d love that).
Today was our latest recital and trying to do something different (and feeling a little bit bold) I chose to sing the Etta James classic At Last. I mentioned I was preparing for this performance in a previous post.
It is a big song and in a jazzy style that I have never sung in before. Because it is so recognizable and such a diva song I started to get a little nervous. I wondered ‘Why did I have to pick such a difficult song?’ and I had visions of my first recital crash and burn. Of course, the practice before my recital I made every mistake in the book, forgetting words, voice cracking, you name it.
Like I said, its not perfect but it shows a lot of improvement. My teachers were super pleased. Dave even had his mouth agape at the middle section. He gave me a high five and said ‘now that’s how to belt!”. Amanda said she was ‘blown away’. This made me feel SO GOOD! I’m on cloud 9 right now!
So, here’s the performance. I think the middle of the song is particularly strong. Enjoy!
If you want to see my improvement take a look at some of my previous recital posts.
So as I’ve mentioned several times on this blog I take voice lessons. I have for 6 years. Recently I have run the gambit of Broadway songs I am interested in singing (in fact, most of them I’ve done 2 or more times). I have 7 anthologies from Hal Leonard and have gone through most of them thoroughly.
With the death of Etta James I decided to shake things up and sing a jazzy song- At Last. While I am no Etta, Ella or Beyonce…I did my best and have learned a lot from the song. Its fun to do something different every now and then.
Here I am in my mediocre version. I know its not great so I really don’t need constructive criticism (My one soft spot is my voice. I don’t take criticism of it very well). Also the recording isn’t great and the backtrack I found is cheesy and electronic. Oh well! Just tell me if you like parts:
What are some other songs from this era that might be fun? I was thinking like a Billie Holiday, or maybe Ella Fitzgerald. Like I said, I’ve drained the Broadway cannon and am looking for other genres and styles that might be a challenge, that would be fun.
I usually don’t think of myself having a pop or rock vibe in my voice but it might be fun to try a few things.
I’ve done some country- Dixie Chicks are a particular favorite as Natalie sings right in my range. (I’ve done Wide Open Spaces and Travelin Soldier).
I also love Sara Barielles and did Gravity for a recital. Soulful girl music is my favorite from any era. I’ve done Carol King, Linda Ronstadt. The only ‘opera’ I’ve ever done is Think of Me but if there is a song in English I might be willing to give it a go.
I’m up for anything. I’m so grateful for my lessons. The other day my teacher said ‘I’m really glad I know you’ and I feel the same way. Its a blessing in my life to have a creative outlet and a chance to bond with a dear friend.
She’s going to China for 2 weeks so I will miss my lessons but hopefully I will have a bunch of new songs picked out when she returns. Suggestions please.
I’ve mentioned on this blog that I have taken voice lessons through Hale Center Theater Orem for over 5 years. I love having a creative outlet each week and never get tired of the thrill of accomplishment that comes with mastering a new song. Each month we have a Master Class which is kind of a mini-recital/lesson. In addition, twice a year we have recitals. The first recital I did I was terrified. I sang Till There Was You from The Music Man (and easy song) and my hands were shaking I was so nervous. I even told my teacher I couldn’t do it but out I went.
Ever since then I learned to enjoy the recitals (It makes me wonder what other things I might excel at that I am avoiding? Hmmm…). In fact, I always sing better in the recital than I ever do in practice (I am the same way with swimming. Always better at the meets than practice. I guess I’m a bit of show off and the attention brings out my best… 🙂 )
For this recital I sang an arrangement of The First Noel by Mark Hayes (I try to do a Christ oriented over a Santa each year). I was nervous because the second verse was different than the hymn version I am used to. Since I liked the new words I really wanted to get it right but I kept jumbling it up. Fortunately I said a prayer and the right words came up. I was also very happy with my mixed tone and how I was able to perform the song.
Unfortunately my stupid camera ran out of memory with one line left-literally a breath away from the 2 high notes 😦 . Oh well! At least this will give you some idea. Everyone had really good things to say. Its fun to see how the other students improve year after year in the recitals and to get feedback. Even some of their parents know me and came up to say I’d improved.
On a funny note- I’ve had 2 people tell me ‘Thank you for being you’ today. All I have to say is “You are welcome!”. In all seriousness, its great to be appreciated for who I am and for being me. Merry Christmas!
As I have mentioned before tomorrow I am going to have my strabismus surgery on my eye. As you might guess I am nervous and anxious for the entire thing to be over. Thank you in advance for the support and love during this ordeal and over the last 6 months.
At least today I had something else to focus on- my recital for voice lessons. This year I decided to sing My Favorite Things from the Sound of Music. I selected it because it is about finding the positive in negative situations- a theme I related to right now (Go figure right?).
It was a challenging song but I think it came out pretty good. Not my best performance but given the stress and lack of practice I’ve experienced lately I am happy.
The song is more challenging than you might at first think. (particularly the arrangement I used). The rhythm is tricky and perky acting was a bit hard, but I did the best I could.
Today I had master class for my voice lessons. This is a monthly event where we prepare a solo to preform for our fellow students and teachers. Singing in front of a crowd has always been difficult for me. Acting and performing the song is easy its just trusting my voice that’s hard. One of the many weird things about singing is that you don’t hear your voice accurately. What I mean by that is when I hear myself sing I am having an entirely different experience then the audience. Something that sounds over-the-top to me, even shouting, sounds great to them. Something that seems big to me, may need more emphasis to them. Its almost as if you have 2 different voices- one the voice I hear, and one the voice everyone else hears.
In my lessons I often have to trust my teacher that my voice sounds good. In my ear it sounds screeching or off but in her ear it is great. Today at master class I sang “Good Morning Baltimore” from Hairspray. For the first 2 verses I did pretty good (in fact my teacher said it was the best belt sound she’d heard in me). Unfortunately once the chorus came I hit a high note weird and had a hard time fighting my way out of that bad voice moment. It was especially frustrating because I had done it right in practice just hours before.
By the end of the song I was feeling deflated and discouraged, almost wishing I could walk away for the feedback. Amazingly enough the good job I had done for the first half of the song got very high praise and the weak 2nd half a few minor critiques. They even said if I hadn’t made it such a big deal in my facial expression they would not have noticed most of the mistakes. My teachers were especially pleased with my performance and said I told the story well, and some of the best mix/belt I’ve ever sang- even with the mistakes.
This scenario at master class is exactly why I am still taking voice lessons. When I sing I want to be perfect. I want to be a skilled singer more than almost anything else in the world. It satisfies a longing in my heart placed there when I was just a girl. Naturally wanting to be perfect I notice each flaw in the performance. Does the audience notice- no, unless I make them notice by my facial expressions? Even more, my actual voice sounds better to the audience then it does in my ear. Isn’t that strange?
I wonder how many times I criticize myself for something others find beautiful? I’m not sure I want to know the answer. I have always been pretty open in complementing myself and have a high self esteem; however, with the singing, my voice actually sounds different to my ear. In a way I have to throw out my ears and listen with other ears- not an easy task. Once I am hearing myself through their ears then I will hear the beauty of my voice in a new way. I’ve gotten better at this over the years but still have a long way to go.
I wonder how many other parts of my life I am hearing the wrong voice? I hear the squeaky nervous girl. Everyone else hear’s the belty/mix girl with a lot of spunk? Is there beauty within me that I don’t notice but others would applaud? Hmmmm. Makes you wonder?
This is kind of a rambling post. Hope it makes sense.
By the way….exciting news! I bought a piano! It is a Samick SSP10 Digital Piano. It is very well made, looks gorgeous in my room and is drooling in anticipation for its inaugural jam session. I love singing with my friends, and I hope the piano will make my apartment even more of a gathering place. It will certainly help with my voice because I can at least plunk out most songs. It’s awesome! You should all come and sing/play with me!
I am going to continue working on Good Morning Baltimore and eventually I will post my performance online. It will be awesome. Tracy Turnblat never sounded so good!