Many years ago a counsellor advised me to start singing to help heal a period of sadness I was going through. I remember feeling surprised at her remedy, but sing I did. Usually, I would sing in the shower where few could hear me. I would belt out whatever song came into my head and the cascading water would drown out the sound. Sometimes singing would bring back sad memories and tears would flow, but over time singing every day lifted my spirits. Eventually, I was dancing my way out of the bathroom in the mornings.
Since then I've been deeply aware of the powerful healing properties of sound and the need to express our own unique voice. Whether it is to speak out on issues and topics that matter to us, as a way to reach out and connect with others, or for personal healing and catharsis. We've all noticed how particular sounds and songs affect our bodies and our mood. How when we sing along to a favourite tune we feel freer, lighter and happier. With this in mind I decided to sign up for a Jazz singing class recently. I wanted to learn how to sing Jazz: A. because I like it. B. because I want to be able to sing it, and C. because I knew it would be difficult for me. In fact, not just difficult but extremely difficult! You see, I don't have a beautiful singing voice, or even a half-decent singing voice. No, I'm convinced I am tone deaf! I can hardly hold a melody and I'm usually out of tune. But, and here's the most important thing, singing makes me happy. I just feel good when I sing :).
However, when I stood up in front of 20 other women to sing my first song I wasn't exactly feeling delirious. After listening to the dulcet tones of everyone else I knew my voice would be more of a challenge for the teacher. But here's the thing. I didn't mind. I was taking the class consciously because I want to feel into those corners of myself I have kept hidden. I want to shine a light on those parts of myself I consider 'less than' and invite them out to play.
On of the most beautiful outcomes from the class is witnessing those special moments when someone deeply connects with a song and shares it. Often I feel the hairs rising at the back of my neck as beautiful singing voices fill the room. And, each week I've become a little more accepting of the limitations of my own voice. I know I'm never going to be able to sing like Sarah Vaughan in the photo above. But I've found a couple of songs I can sing, and have gently encouraged my voice to keep trying even though the sound isn't always in tune.
Through this process I've discovered how empowering it is to accept our weaknesses. To even draw attention to them at times, and just shrug our shoulders and say 'yup, ain't a great _ singer'. To acknowledge to ourselves and others that we are 'good enough' with our weaknesses as well as our strengths - now that is liberating.
What would you love to do but you're worried you won't be good at it? If you were to put aside any concerns about what others might think of you, is it worth exploring, just for the fun of it? Whatever it is that you're curious about wouldn't it be interesting to follow the trail and see where it leads you?
My trail has led me to a stage, a spotlight, and a microphone! Tomorrow afternoon I will be singing a song accompanied by a professional Jazz guitarist in front of my teacher and classmates. I've been practicing all week. I know I'm good enough whether the song is good or not, I'm still feeling a mixture of nerves and excitement. Here goes....wish me luck!
Report from Calais 'jungle' Refugee Camp Fundraiser
September 29, 2016
On poetry and being authentic...
June 15, 2015
‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter’ - Martin Luther King Jr.