Do you? Sing in the shower, that is. Or in the car, or maybe walking down a wintry street like you’re in a snow globe and no one’s around?
I don’t really sing. Much or well. But I sing loudly when no one’s listening, and it’s energizing. There’s something decidedly different about singing for no one and singing for anything otherwise. I have something like a negative desire to sing for eager ears. To say it’s not my gift would be grossly understating the truth. I have many a musically gifted friend. I’m truly blessed by their talent; I appreciate music exponentially more everytime my friends shuffle to play on my ipod. But my voice just can’t quite keep up.
What is my singing and what is it not? Maybe it’s something when there’s no one to listen, and not a thing when there is. Or maybe it grows, vocal sanctification. It took me two solid summers to stand at a choir mic under open rafters and make even a peep (and, sadly, sometimes it was actually a peep). I cried during the first day of choir so often it obtained “pattern” status. I could sometimes hear a note I thought I could hit, only to feel the squeakiness in my throat before I even pushed out sound. When that happened, I retreated in fear (i.e. silence and lip syncing), terrified to produce a note so embarrassingly wrong that I’d be sent off the platform, to the sound booth with Eggers.
Song after song, I listened to my brothers and sisters worshipping to songs I loved, smiling a fake smile and moving my mouth to fit in. I sang “This is How it Feels to be Free” in my car with ease. I knew the tenor part from the boys at my mic, but when it came time to stand on the platform, microphone far too close to my lips, that whole squeaky pre-sound throat thing happened again. Argh.
Maybe as time passed, my ear got better. Is that even possible? I started to hear notes that were easy and match them. It worked out okay for a very small range of notes, and that’s when choir started to get fun. And I stopped crying so often at practice. My voice needs to get baptized, I think.
And today I still only sing in the car, in the shower, and in snowy deserted emptiness. I did all three today, actually. Shane and Shane, Jimmy Eat World, and Amos Lee respectfully. I hope they’d all be proud – but we’ll never know because I can only make notes close to right when the listening ears are none. Which leads me to this afternoon. I sang at a gospel choir rehearsal. I was terrified, and I don’t know if I’ll go back. I’m significantly sure that at least half my notes were wrong, somewhere between catastrophic and annoyingly off-pitch. All my timbre and tone and vocal vibration were surely horrendous because I don’t even know what those words mean.