Wow. I was not prepared for this….
Context: I’ve “always” played musical instruments for as long as I can think back. I was playing in several bands during my High School years, had a brief stint as professional musician in my early twens, released a couple of tracks I had written, recorded and produced on my own in more recent years. And in those bands I had appeared with, I had also always been a lead singer and background vocalist while playing my instruments on stage. So let’s just say: My body knows music. In case your attention starts to wander away because you might feel you’re not a musical person at all: Bear with me – and yourself – for a little while longer. We’ll get to it in a minute.
Regular visitors to this blog will know that I have traversed the dark night of the soul various times in recent years and since having started this blog. I have experienced loooooong bouts of utter depression, hopelessness, despair, red rage – the whole gamut of negative emotions, you might say. These negative emotions ran at an intensity that they sometimes even managed to cancel out the musical vibe in me altogether. There were days I laid my hands on the guitar and started playing a song I had always enjoyed and it felt like a mechanical exercise. Now, singing? I couldn’t even begin to think about pulling the strength to take a breath deep enough that it would move the respiratory tract hard enough to have my vocal chords resonate strongly enough to carry a tone, let alone a tune. In fact, when you’re deeply depressed, your vocal volume is reduced, there is sluggish articulation and other parameters indicating a profound change in mood. So singing was pretty much out of the picture. For good, I thought.
However, I sometimes muster this flurry of desperate activity when being despondent enough. It’s almost like tricking myself away from killing myself. One such bout of activity had me attend a “meet the board/school” day with the local musical school training professional music educators. Their targeted age group is between 18 and maybe some 25 years of age. People my age showing up there were – the parent(s)! But when you’re desperate enough, you’ll try to make anything work, right? Right. So I’m outing myself right in the first session boldly going “How about this program as a later in life second kinda career decision? (And in front of a room of about 100 people) Immediate silence from all the ADD-prone 15-somethings around me with their Moms and Dads sitting somewhere at the back of the room, so the former would get to put their cool on – and wear it, too! Another male looking my age blurting out after me “Yeah, what about it?!” Good thing to learn that the school’s principal seemed to be a seasoned orator as he didn’t fall flat on his back right away. Anyway, I’m digressing – as usual.
Singing – what about it? Long story short, after having spent an afternoon between eager teens and very proud parents along with my new friend who apparently finds himself in a similar situation as I, I felt inclined to audition for them. And that’s where we tie back into the singing thingy: I auditioned for the guitar coach first on a separate day. As the vocal coach offered me to see him on that same day, I agreed on having a preparatory talk with him. Turns out he auditioned me anyways, unprepared, unpracticed, unwilling and all. And that’s where things got interesting: After years of being down on myself, years of ending the day wishing and praying not to wake up the next day, years of humiliation, years of facing homelessness more than once, years of writing my own version of the Book of Jobe, after all this – I started to feel something again! In fact, I felt no more than a simple physical sensation, which is that of the air column standing between your vocal chords, travelling past your laryngeal, tipping its hat to the chest area and the respiratory tract, then reaching all the way down into your stomach – while your upper cavities in the head, near the nose and at the back of your throat help mold the sound that’s coming out of your mouth – wow! And then some! Right there – I transformed into a better version of me, a more confident, self-assured one, the one I remember having been in younger years, regardless of childhood trauma and C-PTSD outcomes I have been living with forever. Right there – I was nothing but a resonating physical vessel, being put on earth for no other reason than – singing a few notes at the prompt of the vocal coach.
My point being: Singing will transform you! You don’t think you’re musical? Who cares? Sing anyway!!! You can’t carry a tune? Nobody gives a shit! Sing anyway! Intonation, dynamics, remembering lyrics – you’re all poor on those three? Fuck it. Sing anyways! Why? It is going to save.your.life! And I mean it. It is likely to save mine. And yours, too – I hope?