I’ve told you that I was going along to see why I couldn’t sing – despite loving to sing. I set off expecting to be asked to hit a few notes, perhaps played on a piano or something for me to repeat, or a trilling ‘lalala’ to copy, perhaps even a rendition of “Doe a deer a female deer, ray a drop of golden sun, me … ” from the sound of music or just a ..me-me-me-me-me…Hmmm?
None of it, well not for a long time. My dear and lovely friend, (this is why I felt safe even though still vulnerable) made us both a nice cuppa and we sat. ‘Why do you think you cannot sing?’ she asked, without having heard the evidence (ie, me trying to sing.) ‘When, in fact, did you first think you could not sing?’ I did tell you before that she is of the belief that everyone can sing! Did I mention she is also a beautiful singer and ex speech-therapist?
As it happens the first time I realised I could not sing is etched in my memory. I must have been about nine – as I was in Mrs Snow’s class. I can see the room, the double desks on cast iron frames, the ink-wells set in them. Mrs Snow was choosing people for some sort of special choir. The actual reason is, for me, lost in time. I suspect it was something to do with the church, as our school was a C of E and we trooped next door to the church for various events.
‘All those who would like to be in the choir put your hand up.’ Me, me, me, my hand up and waving. She picked out about a dozen, maybe fifteen, hand-wavers. Pointed at me and said, ‘Not You,’ then also to a contemporary sitting two desks away. This was a lad whose voice I had heard often in our ‘Singing Together’ lessons (A lesson broadcast on the radio and followed in class with special booklets of the songs) as he sat quite close to me and, I thought, sang like a frog. He was a keen joiner-in though so had his hand up for the choir too, finally a ‘Not you,’ for one other child, over towards the back of the classroom. Everyone else who wanted to sing was chosen.
It was obvious to me then … I knew the lad couldn’t sing .. so I must sing like a frog too.
Sadly that was not the only time I was deterred from singing, my dear OH wonders aloud ‘if I am ill’ if he hears me singing loudly in the kitchen (as he often does – as I love to sing along to the radio) and I was even asked to mime at the end of an Am Dram panto as I was ‘putting the others off in the last big chorus.’
So, after an hour of chat and probing about my memories of singing, which included the times I liked to sing, happier memories of singing and the like, she gets out the words to Good King Wenceslas. ‘Lets have a go at this,’ she says, ‘but as you sing I want you to swing your arms from side to side.’
And so we did. We sang the first verse together.
‘Perfectly in tune,’ she says. ‘Next verse you sing ‘the King’ I’ll sing ‘the page’.
‘Great – perfect. Next verse, together..’
Well I was right in the swing of it now I thought (arms swinging away rhythmically too, to help distract me from thinking too much – I think) ….. but when we came to the second half of the verse my voice went to pot…… ‘Ah HA!’ she said, ‘You tried to sing that high when it didn’t need it and it went everywhere!’
And so it had.
‘You could be as low as a tenor,’ she said, ‘or at least second Alto. And if you sang naturally low even as a child you may have not blended in with the high voices of the rest, so that Mrs Snow wouldn’t want a low voice mixed in with the general high voices. You sing low – but not out of tune and not like a frog!’
‘I suspect that you try to sing like others around you, but the melody line is frequently out of your range so your notes go all over the place – which explains why even in later life you have been told not to sing.’
So, like the Page I follow, placing my feet in the footprints as we ‘siren’ swooping from high to low and back up high – and higher. Good vocal stretching, silly noises that are not singing but may extend my range. I am to practise.
We are going to have another meeting. None of this is to teach me to sing… but I now know that it is not without hope. If I choose I can find my voice – perhaps have some singing lessons, perhaps join a choir that needs low voices… exciting or what? Certainly something to sing about!
Do you remember ‘Singing Together’?
Have you ever been told not to sing?
Is it possible that it is only a misplaced voice?
Can we really all sing??
What do you think – do share, you know I love to hear from you.