Tag: vocal class

It calls me….

It calls me….

Have you ever been able to do something but had the inability to show others you could in fact do that something?  So much so that you actually start doubting you can really do it? “No”? “Yes”? “What the hell are you talking about”?

I’ve mentioned before how I have two voices in my head that constantly battle each other. One says, “We got this!” the other says, “WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?! STOP IT!” Guess who always wins. But when I’m alone, the loud voice shuts up and I sing freely.

I grew up on Disney songs, my first CD was The Little Mermaid soundtrack, then Beauty and the Beast, Lion King, Pocahontas..you get the picture. And I practiced singing them non-stop. No one ever said I was good though. i thought I sounded alright… but no one ever said it. Then bullies, adolescence fast forward and my singing became this thing I only did in my car, an empty house or a hotel room shower.

I’ve taken vocal lessons slightly over a year now. And I’ve tried to learn several different songs with varying degrees of sort of success. I could never walk in there and “strut my stuff”. I started to believe I lacked stuff TO strut.

Do you know HOW MANY TIMES I told myself, “I’m going to ask to sing, “A Whole New World” from Aladdin. Literally I’d think about this all week, be driving to class and freak the fuck out and not say a word about it. The thing is I could sing “A Whole New World” damn good even as a kid when the movie came out. Once my ex best friend accused me of lip-syncing when I completely wasn’t (I was 10…). Out of all the Disney songs I love that one and Mulan’s, “Reflection” (movie version) are probably the ones I do best.

But I never had the balls to step into class and attempt these songs. Because HELLO these are Disney songs. That’s not just singing Taylor Swift that SINGING. If I couldn’t even do a Taylor song what business did I have walking in there attempting a Disney song? BTW, this is my internal monologue you are now viewing. Brutal huh?

I hadn’t seen Moana because when it came out I had JUST started my new job and Adam was in Europe and I was too stressed out to do anything. I am obsessed with the water I knew I would instantly love it, I don’t know why I avoided it so long.

A week before I saw the movie (Which was about 2 weeks ago), so 3 weeks ago, something made me listen to the title track, “How far I’ll go”. I had heard clips of it but never actually listened. I was OBSESSED instantly. It hit me like, “Part of your world” had hit me so so many years ago. I listened to it over and over and sang it over and over. Literally that day I first heard it I sang it the entire way home. And I thought I was doing a pretty good job. But of course my brain would not allow for such thoughts to stay in my head long. “You sound good because no one can hear you, you suck”.

I saw the movie the new week, instantly obsessed again. The story just hit me like those old school Disney movies had. (TLM, BATB…). Shortly after I ended up alone in my house. A big struggle for me has been stage fright and letting people hear me. Even videoing myself is super hard for me. I get nervous even with THAT. But I kept trying to get comfortable with it. I took one that sounded ok..and sent it to my BF Adam, the only person I really trust with this…somewhat. lol

Then I did something insane, insane to me, I posted that video on instagram. It wasn’t my best, but it was almost like I had to face that fear. Of letting people hear me and NOT being perfect. Just letting myself heard, period. That was my only goal with it. The world did not end, I did not fall apart. And even though 2 weeks later my knee-jerk reaction is to “Delete that!” I wont let myself based on principal. If I can’t show this side of myself I will never be happy.

So as I said, countless, endless, pretty much every time I went to class I thought about trying one of those Disney classics…and backed down. But yesterday I decided I was going to try it. Well not a classic but, “How far I’ll go”. My regular teacher isn’t there but her sub is super nice too. I even printed out the words. The funny thing is the first thing my teacher told me when I walked in, “Maybe we should work on two songs, do another one too.” Oh universe, you are HILARIOUS. So I suggested, “How far I’ll go” and busted out the lyrics I already had printed out.

Then I did it, I was nervous as hell and wasn’t my best, but I wasn’t my worst either. I navigated that song way better then any other song I had attempted in the last year. So we kept working on different elements and I tried it again and again. The final time she was genuinely surprised and said I had done so well. That I had all of the notes I just had to work on my projection. But that I did awesome and that I ,”Kept surprising her”.

Do you know how long I have waited for someone to tell me I really could do this? That it wasn’t so made up thing I could only do in my head. No, I really can sing that song and I can probably sing all the other ones well too. But just that moment of validation, unaided validation. I cried on the way home. I have waited over 20 years for that moment. For someone to say, “You CAN do this.” Honestly, words can’t even describe it.

“One day I’ll know
How far I’ll go”

“Every heartbreak makes it hard to keep the faith”

Elizabeth Gilbert describes them as “art scars”. Emotional scars that you got at some point while you were trying to express your creativity. It goes deeper then that for me.

I have loved singing since before I could remember. I did it non-stop as a child. I was born with a clef palate, when they were repairing something happened and low and behold I ended up with a speech impediment.  It shaped who I am as a person and how I express and see myself.

So yeah, despite this, I have always loved singing. But then I became a teenager and I stopped. I had a lot of bullies growing up and in 7th grade I realized that if I was QUIET and INVINCIBLE I was SAFE.

People can’t make fun of your voice if they can’t hear you talk.
black-guy-thinking

So into the shell I went and I’ve been suffocating ever since. I held fast to every negative criticism I had ever received about my voice (and self in general). I told myself over and over again that I was not supposed to sing, i wasn’t even supposed to want to. Funny how your heart and brain just refuse to agree sometimes.

I don’t like driving (ask my bf. that is an understatement) but the ONE THING I always loved about driving was that I got to be ALONE in my car and SING MY ASS OFF.  It was my safe haven, literally the only place I would allow myself to sing.

Then my mom and sister passed away…

Do you sense a theme here?

Yes, their deaths were a HUGE catalyst to the person I am and becoming currently. Nothing wakes your ass up like watching 2 people you love leave this earth. Nothing makes you realize, “Hey….I don’t have all the time in the world..” like that.

It still took me two years to go to a vocal class. I literally agonized over it every week for 2 years, trying to convince myself that it was an utterly insane and stupid thing to do. WHY THE HELL WOULD I DO THAT?! I sing in my car, not in front of other human beings. I used to as a bitty kid but not anymore.

Nag, nag, nag the thought went. I went on Yelp and found a school that was on my way home from work. I read the description by the head of the school, it just spoke to me. That made me want to go there, but, she (Olivia) intimidated me because she had been an American Idol finalist...so I didn’t choose her as my instructor.

My first class was terrifying, I barely made any noise. I got slightly comfy with teacher #1 and then. she left. So a new instructor was given to me, a guy, he was really cool and I was more comfy with him…then he left. Then came the 3rd one, I really liked her a lot and felt myself somewhat progressing…I’ll give you one guess what happened…SHE LEFT.

So about now my brain is telling, “Um, Malinda, yeah…maybe you need to stop this madness. 3 instructors have left and now you’re going for #4.” I had literally just paid for another month of classes when instructor #3 left me, so I had to at least finish out the classes.

They put with me Olivia. I was SO scared and intimidated to have her teach me. The universe makes shit happen for a reason though guys. Because I have progressed more in 4 lessons with Olivia then I did with the months and months and months of all the other instructors. She’s amazing and her energy just meshes with mine. What if I had stopped going when instructor #3 quit?!

nevergiveup
(On a good day I can remember this..)

It’s still been pulling teeth for Olivia to get me to sing. I was never able to really go “all the way” and sing like I sing in the car with any of the others. And when I’d say, “I can do it better by myself” I always felt like they were thinking, “Surrreee..”

But TODAY I WAS ABLE TO SING. I got it out, I did it like I do it in the car. Her and I were both so excited. I fight a mental battle against the past when it comes to this and it makes me unable to express myself. Or it tries, now I am actively attempting to combat that.

SAFETY does not make me HAPPY. SAFETY makes me MISERABLE. 

I should get that tattooed on me.

I’m just so proud of myself at the moment. 🙂

BTW the song I’m working on currently is “Million Reasons” by Lady Gaga, hence the title.