When I was a small child, my parents both sang at home for fun, mostly, as I recall, while cooking. Both had nice voices and I remember the sounds of my dad singing as he made his homemade spaghetti sauce (legendary!) with a combination of fond sensory memories – music and food.
When I sang as a kid, my heart was always full, my body sometimes so expanded from within that I felt like I was going to float up into the air. The music ran through me so strongly that sometimes I felt I would fly apart from its “juice” (I still feel that way sometimes) and I could “feel” sounds outside my body as if they were just a real as my own skin. If you had asked me, “What do you feel when you sing, Jeanie?” I would have told you that the back of my head was connected to a space about 18″ above my skull, and that the sounds came from that spot. I would have told you that my throat melted as I went higher. That description was very solid to me as experience, although I realize that now it makes little sense.
Sometimes when my dad was angry, I could feel his words like little barbs, something like bee stings, hurting the energy around my body, a few inches away from my skin. They were unpleasant sounds and they actually “hurt” a bit. The voices around me were vivid and I could easily recognize, at 4, the voices of my parents’ friends without asking who they were or having them tell me, when they called on the phone. (I started answering the phone by the time I was 3.)
By the time I was a teenager, all I really wanted to do was sing, as it was easy for me, it was loads of fun and it called to me powerfully, like a drug, to come to it. I longed to “expand” my ability to sing and when I got old enough to understand that there was something called “voice lessons”, I really wanted to have them. When I got to have them, I felt like I have been given the greatest gift in the world.
I innocently thought that everyone who sings experienced singing the same way I did and that singing meant the same thing to them as it did to me. I supposed that others listening to singing that was filled with joy felt that same joy in what they heard. I was wrong. My first experience, in eight grade, that painfully woke me to a completely different reality was when one of my classmates described my singing like “listening to a cat yowling”. It felt like someone had thrown a stone directly into the middle of my chest. I couldn’t inhale. When I recovered, I realized that how it felt to me and how it sounded to others could be very different things. Regardless, nothing diminished singing’s pull on my soul. It always called me back.
Now, all these decades later, I am still in love with singing. I struggle to practice with this funky left vocal fold, and I slide around the pitches where it doesn’t want to work. Nonetheless, I cannot imagine giving up singing, my life’s companion, loyal to me through all of the trials and tribulations of my journey here on this planet. I am grateful that I can still sing well enough to manage, even though it takes real work to keep it that way.
My life has never been about being rich, or famous, and it was never about “creating a method”. It was always and still is about making song, about sharing song with others and about sharing with others something that has spiritually supported me in a way that is beyond monetary value. I have had, throughout my life, the gift of being in love with singing. I am sorry for those who have not had that opportunity, as it is a glorious one, and nothing can substitute for it. Nothing.