Wednesday, December 1, 2010

This Post is Brought to You by the Note A

As some of you know, I have been taking singing lessons for a while now.  Almost a year.  And it has been one of the most difficult things I have ever done.  When I started, I expected to be belting out karaoke by June.  Not so much.

Mostly, I have to train my ear.  Growing up, I never sang as a child.  No one in my family did.  And the neighborhood was probably better off for it.  So I started lessons knowing 2 notes and both of them were flat.

Every time I think I'm finally making great progress, I stumble and get all frustrated again.  One time, I told my teacher I tried to sing a song with my sister-in-law.  My niece who was listening said I was singing harmony.  I sang the song for him and he said, "No, you were just singing the wrong notes."  I know, learning is never linear.  I'm using muscles I never knew that I owned and they don't like being discovered. 

It's not to say that I have not made progress, I have.  I used to need my teacher to play the notes of the song very loudly on the piano for me to follow along.  Now, I can follow an accompaniment (with the vocal notes of course) on my MP3 player.  And yes, I wander around the house belting out tunes pretending I'm in a smokey jazz club (oh, and I have fantastic hair by the way). 

But I'm still having trouble hitting the notes without help.  Especially "A."  For some reason this note gives me the most trouble and when I don't hit it right, all the following notes just suck (there is no better term for it).  Turns out, that is the note where I change from my lower/chest voice to my head voice.  Whatever, I just hate that note.  What have I ever done to it that it gives me such trouble?

Oh, and, because I never really sang before, I have a really weak, airy voice so I have to learn "how to sing."  This means singing with my throat open and my tongue on the bottom of the mouth and not blocking my throat and all this technical stuff designed to give my voice more power.  I made the mistake of asking my teacher about the people who naturally have a good voice.  He told me that those people already do all that technical stuff instinctively.  Man, I hate them.  They probably have no problem with the A note.

Despite how excruciatingly frustrating it is, I stick with it.  I really want to learn and I know I'm making progress, even if it is at a snail's pace.  But I know, someday, somehow, right here on this blog, I'll post about going out in public and doing karaoke or even an open mic night.  I may even post a recording of myself singing.  You never know so stay tuned.  Oh, and I'll have fantastic hair!


  1. Don't throw in the towel, Kate! Be proud of what you have learnt and are attempting...

  2. looking forward to hearing you sing...good for you...

  3. You are inspiring me to re-think the singing thing. Tas used to try to teach me and he said if I didn't think about it too hard, I could sing on key. What a wonderfully kind man he was. I also had (and probably still do) trouble with the high E Flat on my flute. That note would go so flat, or sound so wimpy, I was embarrassed.

  4. I was seven years old when the Beatles hit the American continent. One day I was sitting on the floor in my older sister Kathy's room while she played her "Meet the Beatles" LP. I was singing along with "All My Loving," when she suddenly started yelling at me. I pretty much ignored her until my mom came in, asking what was wrong. I barely paid attention while my sister yelled, "He's singing all the wrong notes!" My mom listened to me for a few seconds, and said (with a smile) "He's singing the harmonies." So, yeah, some of us latch onto singing instinctively. The very first night my first band played a gig, the question I got most (from patrons and the club owner) was "What other bands have you sung with?" They were all surprised to learn that I'd only sung along with the radio (and in church choirs) before then. Having said all that, there were (and are) still things I could learn that pros do to sing better, and good luck to you in learning them!

  5. Kate - I have to tell you how many times I have laughed out loud at this: "My niece who was listening said I was singing harmony. I sang the song for him and he said, "No, you were just singing the wrong notes."


    Keep at it. Those of us without natural talent are interested in your journey to instructed talent and how it goes.