I had my second real voice lesson today (excluding the couple I had and quickly stopped when I was about eight-years-old, and do those even count if I remember nothing?). It was terrifying, to say the least. I got there half an hour early because I was so nervous and couldn’t sit at my apartment waiting anymore, so might as well sit outside my teacher’s office for half an hour, right? By the time, we started, I was lightly shaking.
But I went through with it. And I sang. At least one person heard me. I survived. And I want to go back.
I first took a recent voice lesson just before auditioning for the community theatre production of Cabaret. I filmed some of my thoughts about singing and auditioning as part of the #FaceYourFear campaign for OCD Awareness Week. I’ve since done another show, this time a straight play, with the community theatre, but I will be auditioning for another musical next week. Which means I have to sing by myself in front of everyone auditioning, again. Taking a voice lesson before doing this is a huge part of giving me the confidence to even get up on stage and audition.
Yet, I’m starting to want to make voice lessons a more frequent project then just once right before I have an audition. I’ve danced my entire life, for over twenty years since I was three. I love musical theatre and participating in community theatre shows. But not knowing technique of how to properly sing, and not having the confidence to really be heard singing, is holding me back. I want to work on that.
I filmed myself singing both before and after the voice lesson, and there is an audible difference. I still have a ways to go, but that kind of progress is addicting. I want to keep putting myself outside my comfort zone, and I want to get better at singing.
Let’s not skip over just how scared I was before and during the lesson though. At one point, the voice teacher asked what I was thinking, and I explained that it was a pretty solid, “Ahhhhhhh,” for the entire hour. My hands shook, as I held them firmly to try to keep them still. I couldn’t make much eye contact with her while singing. I thought of and panicked at the fact that anyone in the hallway could probably hear me. Yet, I kept singing.
And sometimes, it actually sounded good. I could hear a difference as we worked on throat shape and firmness. I played the trumpet for eight years, and in all those lessons I never heard such quick progress. It was encouraging. Still, my voice often wavered and squeaked. I asked the voice teacher why my voice sometimes squeaked, and she explained that it was largely a lack of committing to it vocally. I had one foot in the water and one foot still on dry land. This made my vocal cords shake, mimicking my shaking hands, and the fear came through in how I sounded. The very next exercise I doubled my commitment, and it sounded better again. “We are going to sing whether or not you like it!” I said jokingly to my vocal cords, slamming down my foot.
Normally, when we think of doing things that are anxiety-provoking we think of them as purely negative experiences. That was not the case with today’s voice lesson. Sure, I was anxious. I had to take a nap when I got home, the anxiety was so exhausting. But I also had fun pushing myself to continue smashing my comfort zone. I had fun working on learning a new skill. I had fun being imperfect. Dare I say it, but anxiety can be fun.