I was told I couldn’t sing.
I have wanted to sing since I was 20 years old. At that age I was playing drums in a band and thought it would be fun do to some backup vocals. I signed up for a lesson at a local music store.
At the lesson I felt anxious. As the teacher began with vocal exercises I realized how completely uncomfortable I was. She was so serious and I felt ridiculous making the sounds she wanted me to. I never went back.
Fast forward 20 years to August 2014 when I turned 40. To celebrate, I decided not only to take another shot at singing but to go double or nothing and learn how to play the guitar too.
I signed on with a woman who I thought would be fantastic. I knew some of her music and she has an amazing voice. It turned out to be an awful and often bizarre experience filled with her inappropriate boundaries, lack of humor and frustration when I couldn’t hit the notes. After 3 voice lessons she proclaimed that I was probably tone deaf and unteachable. I was stunned and humiliated.
Then I got angry. I refused to let her determine that for me.
I found yet another voice teacher who a friend described as “encouraging”. I forced myself to contact her. If it was a disaster again then I would accept I couldn’t sing.
To my unending gratitude, this last chance teacher was perfect for me. She explained that being truly tone deaf is very rare and that music would sound like noise to me. There was hope! She also noted that if I had some pitch issues, I just may have to work harder at it than others. She was right.
She had a sense of humor, focused on the positive, was patient and fluid and creative in her teaching.
My hope was to learn about a song a month.
In reality after a year and a half of total determination and regular practice, I had one song that I could sing and play the guitar to well. One single song. But I did it! I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t believe it. I performed in front of family and belted my heart out and it sounded good.
As Autumn rolls in I have been pulled to other priorities and have paused lessons for now. No matter where my musical future takes me, I know that with anything in life, if it's important, it's possible.