“I’m Defying Gravity…and You Can’t Pull Me Down”

Aug 10:  I know that I’m going to have to sing in front of Angela tomorrow – which is phase 2 of this goal.  Phase 1:  sing in front of teacher.  Phase 2:  sing in front of Angela.  Phase 3:  Record song and post for the world to hear.  Phase 4:  Shrivel up and die.  Phase 5:  Move on to September goal. I run through all 3 songs I posted about last time and re-realize I don’t really sound that good singing any of them.  I start praying Angela has alternate song options in mind.  I start getting excited/anxious for my lesson tomorrow.

Aug 11:  Today is officially my second formal singing lesson at Michelle Tuesday Music School (http://michelletuesday.com/).  I was actually looking forward to the lesson since last week and I knew I would finally meet my official teacher, Amanda, since she couldn’t be there last week (and I was excited because everyone kept telling me how awesome of a person she is) – and yes, I hate ending that sentence with “is.”  After a morning workout and a busy work day, I was lucky I even made it to the lesson on time.  I ran errands after work and came home and dozed off on the couch.  I woke up just in time to say a curse word and run to get my keys and purse and sprint out the door.  I pulled into the parking lot at 7:53pm and my lesson started at 8pm so I skipped the waiting and sweating in my car for 20 minutes thing I did last week.

I wasn’t smart enough to operate the self-serve sign-in tablet so the nice girl at the desk signed me in while I walked off with their stylus pen like I owned it.  I had my green folder in hand like all good students do, and this time I actually maintained my common sense and knew how to read my own name on the monitor to show I would be in studio 3 again.  I had approximately 3 minutes to feel like I was at a doctors appointment again as I referenced last time – waiting to get some sort of procedure that you dread that’s never as bad as you read about on google.  That feeling went away when Amanda presented herself and took me back to what I’m now calling “my studio.”

I gave the elevator pitch for the blog upon my entrance with “Hi, I’m friends with Angela, we have a blog, we try something new every month, singing lessons is my thing this month, I’m terrified to sing in front of people, and everyone says you are awesome.”  There was some shuffling around of a chair and pushing record on my phone and we jumped right in.  When a lesson is 20 minutes, you don’t want to waste 10 minutes on chit chat.

We did some Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So warm-ups followed by So, Fa, Mi, Re, Do’s.  I became musically dyslexic with So, Fa, Mi, Re, Do but I made it through.  Amanda pointed out the same thing my teacher from last week noticed which was my strong attempt to be quiet or reserved and she encouraged me to be louder or not just drop off on the last note.  I tend to do this right about the time they say “now you by yourself….” while continuing to play notes on the piano and nodding and smiling at me with encouragement.

After the warm up I realized Amanda’s voice is awesome, therefore, making her awesome all the way around.  She gave me similar tips to Sarah last time about wanting to open your mouth wide (vertically, not horizontally) and giving me tips like pretending I was opening my mouth to yawn or bite into an apple.  I kept thinking of how funny all the people in high school choir looked when they were singing, but it was because they actually knew what they were doing and opened their mouths like they were biting apples.  Plus, choir was like an underground thing in my mind in high school.  It’s like, one day everyone in high school choir performed for us and people I was really good friends with were standing before me in choir gowns singing semi-familiar songs and I didn’t even really know choir existed….let alone know they were in choir!  Like, when were they practicing?  Where did they get those robes?  And why didn’t anybody tell me about it?  Anyway, 15 years later (sidenote – my 15 year class reunion is coming up) I’m having my early 30’s version of high school choir.  So, after the warm up portion she asked me what song I wanted to sing.  I tell her I sang “Feed the Birds” last time but I was open to something else this time.  She asks if I have any musicals in mind and I tell her how last lesson I realized I had only seen Sound of Music and Mary Poppins – I did quickly say “…and I auditioned for Sound of Music in 6th grade and didn’t make it….so….maybe we shouldn’t do that one” (that scar runs deep, obviously).  I continue by saying “well, I’ve seen those and Wicked and I guess I always envisioned belting out “Defying Gravity” but….(voice trails because I feel stupid)….” and by the time I got done pretending I didn’t say that….she pulls out a Wicked music book.  I loved everything about that book and what was about to happen.

We sang “Defying Gravity.”  I sat beside her on the piano stool while it all went down.  My life was complete.

I was so happy.

I wondered if I was too old to pursue Broadway and how hard it would be to get the Elphaba make-up off after every show I’d likely be cast in.

I grab my phone and head to the computer lab, leaving my purse behind in the studio because personal belongings no longer matter.  I am a singer.

I hit the computer lab where I could not comprehend any notes that fell outside of the regular staff and started guessing and clicking on random answers until I heard the clapping and cheers that would play in my headset when I got one right.  I listened to a flute play notes and correctly answered when it asked me to identify if the notes went from high to low or low to high.  I was relieved when the lab assistant told me my time was up right when the final quiz was about to start.  It said the score would be recorded.  It reminded me of the so-called “permanent file” we all think we have that resides somewhere magic.  It supposedly holds all our quizzes, test scores, detentions, and parking tickets and measures how good of a person we are based on those things.  I didn’t want a poor score to go in my imaginary permanent life file and hoped I’d remember enough next week when I had to take the real quiz.  If Broadway doesn’t call before then.

Meanwhile, Angela and Joe were sitting in the back of the computer lab slurping on noodles while Angela would laugh at whatever Joe was saying.  I tell Joe that I hope he didn’t hear me in my singing lesson (secretly hoping he heard any good parts) and he said he didn’t….but he tells me I did a great job when he was on his way out.  I believed him.

The school shuts down, someone vacuums the lobby, and Angela and I go into studio #2 with intentions of picking a song that we will sing together before the month ends.  We limp our way through the 3 songs I posted in my last blog post.  Angela is playing the piano and singing and I am sweating and singing every other word.

We nix all 3 songs and decide on “In Christ Alone” singing the version done by Lauren Daigle:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ch6eXkQWU8

We decide we’ll record it in a week and a half.  I drive home feeling excited and realize I sang in front of a friend.

One thing I’ve noticed after 2 official lessons (which I semi-eluded to when recapping my first lesson) is how much I’m enjoying the experience of it all, as cheesy as that sounds.  It’s almost like I feel safe in that little studio.  I don’t have to worry about work, I don’t have to worry about if I’m in shape or not, my lesson starts at 8pm so I don’t have to worry about rushing from work, and I don’t have to worry if the one other person in there is judging me.  The 2 teachers I’ve had so far (and I’ll even throw Angela in there too) have been so encouraging that it’s actually fun.  What I was dreading for so long is actually fun!  I still fight getting down/angry/aggravated when I listen to the recordings of the lessons and realize I don’t sound that great, but I am so appreciative of how it makes me feel when I’m there that I’m not-so-sure I care about sounding bad.  Now, when I’m trying to record a video of Angela and I in a week in a half and sound bad and my outfit isn’t flattering and I am nervous….then all that enjoyable crap is out the window, but for now….I am strongly considering continuing on with singing or maybe piano lessons following this month.  Who knew?!

What I looked like in my mind while singing “Defying Gravity”

defying gravity

Aug 12:  I tried to sing “Defying Gravity” on the way to work with no music to assist.  It was a complete failure.  I shut that operation down immediately as to not taint yesterday’s high.

I sing “In Christ Alone” while listening to the YouTube video.  I realize I only know a few of the lyrics off the top of my head.  I try to remember day 1 of singing and work on keeping my shoulders and neck relaxed while I practice.

Aug 13:  I put 1 headphone in and played the “In Christ Alone” Youtube video on my phone while reading the lyrics off my iPad.  This way I could see the lyrics, hear the original well, and also hear myself.  I ran through it 4 times. I even upgraded and practiced at home instead of in my car.  You know, all while watching the window like a hawk so I knew if Chris was going to walk in and hear me.   There are a couple parts in the song (well, mainly all of it, but I’m giving myself a little credit) that are kind of like….scary sounding….but I will keep practicing.  I feel focused now that we’ve selected a song to record.  I also text my friend Jen (who has an amazing singing voice) to see if she wanted to join in the recording.

And in Wicked news….I sliced the audio down to about 7-10 seconds of me singing “Defying Gravity” with my teacher Amanda from 2 days ago and sent it to my parents, Chris, Jen, and Angela.  13 days ago, I would’ve never done such a thing!

This goal is stretching me and teaching me a lot about myself.