Sunday, December 10, 2006

My Voice, My Ear and the Way God Works

I've been thinking about music and my singing a lot right now since we're so busy with this FLOT production- We had rehearsals 4 days last week, and will have rehearsals 4 days this week, plus the performance. The performance "A Fireside Christmas" is next Friday the 15th at 7 p.m. in the Westmark Hotel in Fairbanks. Tickets are $20, since it's a fundraiser for FLOT. If you're interested, Jake & I have tickets to sell... We're singing 6 big choral numbers and then tons of solos... I'm getting to sing "O Holy Night", one of my Christmas favorites. The program is good, really fun, and I'm looking forward to it!

So, I'm thinking a lot about my singing... Thinking about how far I've come in the last 14 years since I was a vocal music major... You've probably already heard this story: I used to LOVE singing, couldn't imagine my life not singing and playing clarinet... Way back in high school I intended to either be an English teacher or a music teacher and my family couldn't imagine me not doing music. I sang in choirs, did solo stuff, did all the musicals. I LOVED to sing. Then I started college and started taking voice lessons. And I had a VERY critical voice teacher.

In two years of lessons, the most positive thing I heard was along the lines of "Well, you only missed two notes in that song." I slowly came to a point where I hated singing, hated choir, hated singing anywhere. I knew that I couldn't sing anything right. My voice teacher had me convinced my ear was so bad that we actually had my hearing tested... Wrapped up in all this was the fact that when God called me to ministry, I honestly thought he'd called me to be a music minister. When I dropped out of the music department at college and switched to the theater department, I thought I'd misunderstood Him, or that He'd lied to me about pulling me out and placing a call on my life. I felt betrayed by Him, and incapable of doing anything right. My confidence in my ability to sing was completely shattered.

I did not sing ANYWHERE for a little more than a year. I didn't sing in church, in BSU, at home... anywhere. I was still involved with the BSU drama team and writing scripts and performing with them. But I didn't go to the worship times, and I'd skip church most Sundays.

Then the leader of BSU came to me and said they needed someone to lead worship. I said no. They came back to me and really pressured me- the person they had could play piano, but couldn't sing really loud or well while He played. God used the BSU and their absolute need for someone to just sing the songs to get me to sing again. But I believed that just because people liked listening to me sing, didn't mean that I had a good ear or that I was capable.

Skip to seminary where I had the amazing opportunity to sing with all these music majors with these incredible voices who were called to be music ministers and could all play the piano or something else. My roommate talked me into auditioning even though I didn't want to 'cuz she said it wasn't fair that I could sing and didn't want to and she couldn't and wanted to... So I did it for her and I got in! It was so amazing to sing with these people, and the director was such a blessing in my life. He would admit to his mistakes, and would encourage us, and would work on the best way for him to get the sound out of us that he wanted- like we were all perfectly capable and he just had to figure out the right movement to make or the right way to bring us in...

And my roommate talked me into taking voice lessons. The teacher was this really cool guy who'd sung spirituals with this amazing writer & performer who everybody knows and I can't think of his name right now.. :\ (finally remembered: Moses Hogan! He traveled with Hogan's choir and participated in creating some of Moses Hogan's amazing new adaptations of spirituals) Anyway, he just believed in me. I don't know how to explain this- he believed that I could sing and was capable and just needed to turn the vowels right and then I'd be on pitch... He believed that my problems were related to a poor teacher who'd not taught me how to USE & work with my ear. And I came a long way.

But I was still terrified of singing and would just about shut down if I made a mistake. I would get really quiet, to the point of inaudibility if I got nervous, and I'd even have problems hearing the right pitches if I started doubting myself- like my ear was completely tied to my confidence.

Then I started working with my husband. Jake has this amazing ear- he plays music by ear and doesn't read music well. He hears things that just amaze me and can figure out how to play something by listening to it a few times- I mean stuff like "The Moonlight Sonata", which is simple, I know, but he never read the music and he was able to figure it all out and play it correctly...

Anyway, he has just been playing behind me now for 6 years and telling me how I'm right most of the time, and explaining why I messed up, if I did... For example: He can tell me that the reason is that I was hearing the bass line instead of the mid ranges and was coming in with it, and he'll show me how to find my pitch. Instead of saying- "wow, you can't hear", he'll show me that I CAN hear, but that I wasn't listening to the right thing. He's helped me figure out the relationships in songs and why I might have a hard time with a particular entrance, and if I make a mistake while I'm leading, he'll just quietly figure out how to either play it so that I'm right anyway, or he'll play some notes from the melody and bring me back. And my ear is way better. When Jake points out stuff in a song like the bass line, or that this song has 3 drums I can hear it now!

God has started doing this amazing work of healing my vocal confidence through Jake. I would NEVER have had the confidence to audition for the solo, maybe not even for the musical, without my years working with Jake. Jake knows that I can do it, and because of his belief & confidence in me, I'm starting to believe that I can. While I'm still cautious, he has showed me how to hear even when I'm nervous. I'mstarting to not just trust him, but trust myself again, and that's a huge turn around.

Thank you God for the way that you work. I wanted you to just FIX me, but you wanted me to grow- grow to trust you, grow to depend on my husband, grow to be able to fly on my own... Thank you for the amazing gift you gave me in my husband. He is a blessing. It's good to be reminded that you really do know waht you're doing... :) Thank you.

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