I personally have been involved in some form of music since I was a very small girl. I sang in church every week….it was by far the part of church that I enjoyed. I performed “special music” at church as well rather frequently. Sometimes I played my flute in a duet or trio with 2 friends that played the violin. Other times I played my flute solo. I would sing in the congregation but I do not recall ever singing a solo in church….or even in the church choir.
School and later college were both a different story. I sang in choir and was in the school band at school from middle school through graduation. I also was in the college band my freshman year and in the choir for all my college years.
In school, I played the flute and was first or second chair all the time. It was between my good friend and myself depending on who was doing better at that precise time. We took turns back and forth, but I did occupy the first chair position frequently. Was I great….emmmm…not really. I was good for our little school but I expect it would have been much different had I been in a larger school.
The last few years of high school, I started to play the oboe. Our school had been gifted a decrepit old thing that was in a sorry state of repair. I practiced, but an oboe at it’s best can be squeaky and working with one that wasn’t really working optimally put me at a very big disadvantage. An oboe may look like a clarinet but it is a double reeded instrument that is it’s own force.
I remember one particular Sunday at church. I was the special music with my oboe. I practiced and warmed up during the congregational singing but thought something had happened with my reed. When the time came to play, I found my reed had indeed broken and I could get not a squeak out of it. The church seemed to appreciate my humiliating attempts to play and didn’t hold it against me. It did not help my confidence though I can tell you that.
I sang soprano through middle and high school. Our little choir sometimes traveled and performed outside of school. One year, we had a musical we were doing. I auditioned for a smaller role and was surprised when I got one of the lead roles. I never thought I was very good and it terrified me to think of speaking or singing solo. Our class as a collective wasn’t doing well with memorization and our director lost patience with our approaching deadline. We did not manage to learn our lines as a group, so we switched to a different production. There was a larger musical that we had all been working on and a play that was silent as well. Three different productions at the same time. We were performing them at our local community center. Dropping the serious musical we focused on the larger production musical and the silent comedy.
Two narrators telling the story, with the cast acting out silently. Now that was a leading lady role I could get into. No speaking or singing required. Just over the top acting and facial expressions. It was a sarcastic comedy … just up my alley. Being I went to a small Christian school, the dramatic and musical opportunities were limited. Had I been at a larger public school, I may have excelled and been better prepared for college and the “big lake”.
Because I had played the oboe the last few years in high school, I did not feel I was in good enough practice for flute with college. There were many girls that played the flute and many were better than me. So I decided to play the oboe for the college band. They gave me an oboe to play that was in excellent shape and it was so much better with a properly working instrument. I was not very good and my heart was not in it. I never mastered it and left the college band after one semester. The level of expertise of the other players was miles above what I could do with the oboe and a fair stretch even above my musical flute abilities. I had left the little pond of high school and jumped into the big lake. It was sobering to a newly minted college freshman.
While at college, I also auditioned to be in the choir. There were two choirs. The one was a serious choir and more exclusive. Since I sang soprano, I knew it was a fair chance I would never get in. Freshman Sopranos never made it to the serious choir in their freshman year. Remember the big lake vs little pond, and my belief that I wasn’t very good? I knew I could sing, but I had zero confidence or expierence singing solo because it terrified me. I never took singing lessons..just sang in choir for 7 years and church for 15 years. Imagine my surprise when the director spoke to me after my audition and told me that freshman Sopranos never got into the exclusive choir. He had to listen to the other auditions. He said that depending on what he heard, I might get in even though I was a freshman. If not, he said he wanted me my sophomore year. I left that audition with stars in my ears. He said I was good. He was impressed with me. I was glowing. And…still terrified of singing solo. The audition nearly killed me.
I auditioned and got a first soprano position in the other bigger choir. I remember watching the serious choir sing through that entire year and not really enjoying the songs they sang. It was a serious choir. They sang a lot of Latin. Our choir I thought was pretty good and we had fun. We traveled and sang at various places year and I enjoyed it very much. I began to think it was better to not be in the serious choir.
My sophomore year I spent in Peru, South America. I sang and played my flute there a lot as well. Never sang a solo, but my choir was more like 4 of us and that was it. I changed colleges after returning to the USA, our local community college and sang in that choir. Once I graduated from there, I went to Grand Valley State College. I again sang there as well. I took private voice lessons one semester. That was a different experience. I had a pretty serious car accident part way through the semester and found it difficult to practice but managed to finish the semester without taking an incomplete.
I learned a lot during those lessons, including that formal training wasn’t all bad. I wished maybe I had more of it growing up. I had taken private piano lessons for years ever since I was 5 years old. I had a brief stint with some private flute lessons to improve a few thing in my technique. But I had never taken private vocal lessons. I think that should have been different.
After that, my musical performing took a vacation. The next two decades was my singing in the car, shower, to the dogs and animals on the ranch, in front of my husband but not many others. I did still sing, but not as much. I went through a very dark time that second decade and lost my joy in music…in singing and playing the piano. I still listened to music, but very dark melancholy music. I entertained the thought of joining a singing group locally because I missed the group singing on a regular basis but never did it with the remoteness of our property and extremes of our weather.
Coming forward to now, and I am singing again. Starting to vocal tone for healing, starting to throat sing, kulning, and overtones. The ability of a vocal instrument that most of us have…the capabilities we can reach with our voice, has me singing again. Soon there will be more song pouring from me and maybe I will even let someone hear it.