In Christ Alone (plus some curse words)

Aug 14:  Oddly enough, my team at work put on a Talent Show for a Hunger Relief fundraiser, so I spent all day listening to my coworkers sing, dance, play piano, etc.  I sat in the front row during the Talent Show and gave so much credit to the people who put themselves out there and sang their hearts out.  I was really impressed with the talent of the people I work with everyday and I was encouraged to see that you just have to do it.  Everyone sounded different and there was a wide range of ability, but they were just brave and did it.  I mean, singing in front of people is one thing, singing in front of coworkers is another!  On the inside, I was thanking myself for not getting too crazy with this goal and committing to sing in this talent show!  My vocal abilities (or lack thereof) and professional life should probably stay separated. 

I practice “In Christ Alone” in the privacy of my own car on the way home from work without headphones because I left them in my gym bag.  I don’t like the way I sound when the noise of my YouTube video is quieter than my voice.

Aug 15:  It was our monthly Meals on Wheels Day followed by a visit/dinner with my in-laws, so my primary practice happened in between when I went to Whole Foods.  I sang “In Christ Alone” and messed up the same lines all 6 times I sang it.  Having 1 headphone in is the best way for me to practice on my own at this point.  That way I can still hear the YouTube video loud enough in one ear, but am not getting a false sense that I sound like the 90’s version of Mariah Carey by having a headphone in the other ear too.  Mariah did have some good years in there prior to that weird meltdown on MTV Live.

Aug 16:  My Sundays are normally spent doing yoga, eating at Northstar, and catching up on all things work related for the week.  Today was no exception but also included Chris and I getting some updated pictures together.  When you don’t have kids….your engagement photos are the last time you get cute couple/family photos together.  And then one day you look at them and realize you look so young in them and your hair is now long enough to warrant paying to have it styled at Charles Penzone’s and you have a friend whose a photographer so you end up posing awkwardly with long curly hair while in a sweater and statement necklace next to tall grass and benches at Inniswood Metro Park while you sweat in 85 degree weather.  That was our Sunday….and I loved it!  Random piece of advice not related to singing:  if you’re married and don’t have kids….get some new pics taken just because.  Don’t let your engagement pics be the last “official” pictures you do together.

My overall vibe on singing was kinda “eh” today so I tried to sing acapella in my car.  Never a good idea.

Aug 17:  Life is only about “In Christ Alone” at this point.  I sing it on the way to work and try to remind myself to print the lyrics when I get to work.

I work until 7pm and forget to print the lyrics.

I wonder if I’ll get to sing “Defying Gravity” again tomorrow?

Aug 18:  Tonight is my last formal singing lesson.  I’m going to be out of town next week so I had to do 4 weeks worth of lessons in 3 weeks, making tonight a double lesson (40 minutes in the computer lab and 40 minutes singing).  I was looking forward to the lesson since my “Defying Gravity” moment last week but started wondering how my day was going to go when I bought coffee at Tim Horton’s and the girl dropped my credit card and snapped it in half and my arm got closed in on my car window when I was trying to escape a giant yellow jacket (long story) and nearly broke my wrist.  But, I recovered quickly and I was at Michelle Tuesday Music School ready to do my first 20 minutes in the computer lab knowing I would be picking back up with a quiz on what I’ve learned from the last couple weeks.  When it said “review” I guess I thought it was like a pre-quiz, but “review” meant real quiz and I got a big fat D on it.  I could hear my teacher doing vocal warm ups with another student.  It was the same warm up she has me do.  I felt like she was cheating on me while I was clicking wrong answers on the computer.  I got so many things right on that review…or quiz….or review quiz…but couldn’t remember a single note that fell above or below the staff so I reverted back to my school days of going for speed of completion vs quality of work and I got a 66%.  I felt like a failure.  My broken credit card, sore wrist, and D average headed into the studio for 40 minutes of singing before I had planned to go back and face the computer lab again for the final 20 minutes.

I told my teacher that Angela and I had selected “In Christ Alone” as the song we would record this coming weekend (and yes, I’ll be posting it here on the blog) so we spent the time (after the warm up) practicing it.  It was awkward at first because I’m used to (“used to” meaning a whole week and a half) practicing with the version I found on YouTube which is faster and includes a guitar instead of piano.  I’ve also learned that you can have someone play the melody (which I believe means each note that you’re singing) or they can play…..what’s the word?…..well, the other part….which is basically like playing every 4th or 5th note (I’m butchering this description).  But, all you need to know is, in some cases I was singing and there wasn’t a note per word being played on the piano so that can be a little intimidating.  After muddling through it a couple times, we got on somewhat of a roll.  I do much better when someone is singing with me, but this did force me to sing by myself several times.

The main things I learned in the lesson that I wouldn’t have gotten just by singing at home or in my car were focusing on just emphasizing vowels in the words you’re singing and not consonants, how to breath correctly, and how to not hit the last sound of a word until the very end of the note.  I am also reminded about opening your mouth like you’re eating an apple vs opening it horizontally when you sing.  This requires you to sing louder which requires you to feel awkward which requires you to just get over it.

After the lesson I chit chatted about Gals With Goals with the teacher which cut into about 25% of my final lab time which I was fine with, and when I saw the lab assistant walking towards me (they were closing in about 15 minutes anyway) I tell her it’s fine and I’ll skip the second lab time.  I felt like I cheated a little bit, but I didn’t want everyone to have to wait on me and I still had the sting of the D.  Instead, I went into Angela’s studio and realized Chris must’ve rubbed off on me because he’s the type that follows up with teachers and professors when he misses things…and here I was drawing the staff and notes on Angela’s board asking her to explain what I missed.

My drawing/private tutoring with Angela

music drawing

Angela and I end up practicing for about 30 minutes which was great!  We practiced once with the YouTube video playing and then a few times where it was just us and the piano.  I felt really good about it and kept reminding myself that even if I didn’t sound great – I was WAY further along than I was 18 days ago just by the simple fact that I was even singing in front of someone!  I recorded all of our run throughs and reminded myself not to share a couple of them with anyone since we were singing “In Christ Alone” and Angela may have said a curse word or two when she messed up a note or word.  We talk logistics for how we’ll record ourselves on Saturday and we head out.

I decide to be brave and send the audio of Angela and I (sans curse words) to my Mom and Dad and then decide to play it for Chris when I get home.  My mom responded with “good job!!”  My Dad will probably see it in the morning so I’m still anxiously awaiting his response.  Chris said “it sounds great, a little pitchy in spots, but you did great.”  I dwell on the “pitchy” comment for 45 minutes while Chris continues telling me I’m better than I think I am.  I feel like an American Idol contestant.

So I have 3.5 days to perfect this song before we record it.  We’ll be recording at the music school and I’ll be setting up my phone to do a video and as of now I plan on posting on YouTube (if I even become the next Bieber…..I promise to stay grounded with the fame) and then sharing the link here.  I’m considering setting up a Gals With Goals YouTube account so we can spice up the ole blog with other videos in the future too!

After 18 days I have overcome my fear of singing in front of people on a basic level.  I’m still not ready to hop up and do a solo or anything, but I am comfortable singing with someone….in the privacy of a small music studio.  I care less about how I sound and more about how I feel while I’m singing or facing a fear.

I’m aware I’m not an amazing singer, but I’m proud of myself so far.