I have been going to Teresa Doyle’s weekly sound yoga classes off and on for several years. We sing some Latin rounds at times, but mostly we sing and chant in Sanskrit. I have learned a great deal in these wonderful classes and have become more at home with my voice. Most of all, I have learned to let the song come through me. I have received some compliments on my singing from people in this group, and frankly, at first this puzzled me very much. I have sung most of my life, but apart from the odd comment here and there, based on the feedback from the outside world, I concluded there was nothing special about my voice or my singing, at least, nothing that could be detected by others. Of course—in my own world, singing along to music in the car—I sometimes felt I was a superstar!
On Christmas, I took my mother to church, and the first hymn was “Joy to the World”. I noticed (for the first time) that it started on an irritatingly high note—rather hard to hit if you haven’t even warmed up yet. Nevertheless, I enjoyed singing all the Christmas carols though I noticed that it was a strain on my voice and felt somewhat forced. I also noticed that my right shoulder began to ache.
The next night, I got out the old Christmas music books and started playing my parents’ new electronic piano. Unfortunately, the beloved Heintzman on which I learned to play did not come with my parents when they moved back to town about a year ago. I picked out the chords for some favourite Christmas songs and as I sang along, I noticed again how high the high notes were and how tight it felt in my body to hit them. (I must say here that for decades, I have NOT been a fan of electronic pianos. For me, it was only the old pianos that had life and character in them. But, after adjusting the key touch on this piano, I began to like the sound and feel of it.) There were a number of buttons above the keyboard and one of them said transpose. I thought to myself, what if…? And I yanked out the manual to figure out how to use this function. I then transposed “Joy to the World” down 3 keys and lo and behold, it felt wonderful to sing it! Other songs I transposed 4 or even 5 keys down. All this time, singing these songs, I’d been singing in a range that was unnatural to me and a strain on my voice. In high school choir I’d been put into second soprano, but was that really where my voice belonged?
It was a revelation to sing these familiar songs with comfort—to let the tunes really come through the natural instrument of my voice. Singing within my range, I finally felt in tune.
Then I started to think about all the other things that I do because I’ve gone along with where I’ve been slotted, not knowing any better, trying to conform to a shape that others made, when in fact, growing and flourishing means finding my own range, where my song and my efforts become magnified, like a resonant wave structure, in which the power is many times beyond what at first seemed possible. And I thought about other people struggling with the very same thing in many areas of their lives.
So that is my guiding wish for myself for 2012: to find more ways in my life that I can become in tune with the talents and natural range of this particular being that I am, to notice and to seek resonance. And I wish the same for all of you too.
Happy New Year!
playing the old Heintzman