Progress on singing: two years on

I was driving back from Swindon on the morning after BristolCon and put a CD in the player that I haven’t heard for about six months – BT’s A Song Across Wires. Skylarking is my absolute favourite, but then this came on…

I first heard this on Jay’s recommendation, and started to learn it over a year and a half ago! When I first sang it, it scared me a lot. The “crazy” was too high for me to hit without straining, I couldn’t do the verses without a breath in the middle and even that was a struggle, and I admit it really didn’t flow. I loved the song, but singing it was hard!

But I remembered the words, on my drive home last week. And I sang it.

I could hit the highs with relative ease. I could sing the verse with one breath. I actually have form and feeling to the words, rather than worrying about the notes. I had to stop singing because I was smiling so much!

When I got home, I went to find another one I’d learned early on; Lo-Pro’s Clean the Slate.

“Dreaming of a way to start my own revolution…” goes into my upper octave, but it’s one hell of a lot easier now than it was two years ago. I can hold the long notes – even Desperado’s “Ain’t it funny how the feeling goes awaaaaaaay” is easier – and I know my pitch has improved. The lowest notes in Lazarus and Walk are easier to hit, and my highs in everything are stronger. I’m gettin’ better! Woot!

Sometimes we don’t realise how far we’ve come until we look back…

Music and keeping at it

I occasionally get disillusioned with music at the moment. I listen to other people’s songs, I hear music on my computer, I look at my lyrics…and I think “I can’t do this. I’m not good enough.”

And then I have to sit back and think, “Wait a minute. I’ve been doing this for six months. A year ago, I didn’t think I could sing, and I’ve barely touched the piano for ten years! Give yourself a break, woman!”

I don’t really realise how much writing practise I’ve actually had. I read a lot as a child (so, let’s say age 6 onwards*) and picked up all sorts of stuff. And I’ve been making up my own stories since then; I have a pile of diaries with scribbles in my rounded ten-year-old hand from when I actually started writing those stories down, and even some of my Greensky characters have survived from that time. I started writing ‘properly’ in school (say age 11 onwards) and then started writing my own things – or at least Greensky – aged 14 or so. So I have had fourteen years practise(!) to find my own style, my own voice, and to learn my craft. There’s always more to learn and I will always be improving – and I know that I need to! – but I at least do have that much time and practise behind me.

And then I think about music. I have to turn to myself, find the little critical voice in my brain, and tell it “I can do this. I can play the piano. I can sing. I’m not that good right now, true, but I can get better. I will get better. And the only way to do that is practise – so keep at it.”

I don’t usually get envious of other people’s writing; I do compare myself, but I’m secure enough with my own voice to know what I can and can’t do, and to have confidence in my own writing. And so I now have to apply that to my music; I just haven’t found my voice yet. I haven’t found my style. I’ve got a load of work to come, but I will get there.

And the smile on my face when I do manage to play something difficult, or the happiness I feel when I wander round the house singing very loudly, reminds me why it’s all worth it.


*I HATED learning to read. I remember grumping a lot when my mother was trying to teach me, which must have been age five – but then once I got it, bam. She refused to read stories to me after a few months of trying because I’d be ahead of her and wanting to turn to the next page to find out what happened next when she’d only read the first few sentences! She gave up and just gave me the books in the end.