Monday, October 10, 2005


Something cool happened to me yesterday. Something I never thought could happen, not in a bazillion years.

I've been singing my whole life. I've always loved to sing. I tried out for choir in the 4th grade. I didn't get in until the 6th grade, when the teacher let everyone in who wanted to sing. I sang in the kids' choir when a friend invited me to her church. I sang in every choir in ever church I ever attended. I sang in the choir in junior high school. I sang in high school for a year. I sang in choir in college. I met my husband in a community choir I'd joined. All of the choirs I've sung in have been, "you show up, you're in." I've never been accepted in any choir that required a serious audition or required you to be able to sight sing or have a super trained voice.

I've taken voice classes and some private lessons. But I've never quite gotten over the critique and grade I had in a class in college where the teacher essentially said I was tone deaf and should stop singing. I cried. I ignored his advice. I got different teachers and listened carefully to the tips my choir directors gave us. I didn't want to be an opera singer. I just wanted to have a nice, warm tone and know that the notes I sang were the right ones. It would be nice to feel comfortable doing a solo, once in a while, too. Eventually, I learned that the teacher who said I was tone deaf was wrong. There were some technique errors I was making. Once someone who knew more than he did pointed out the problems and I practiced singing correctly, I started singing on key.

Over the years I got used to Paul, with his somewhat rare high tenor voice, getting invited to sing all sorts of places. He dragged me along whenever he could by simply telling them, "My wife sings, too." They often got the hint and realized they get me, if they want him. I also got used to people telling Paul what a wonderful voice he had, ignoring me completely. He does have a wonderful voice. Mine's a solid, "blends in with the crowd" choir voice. And I'd pretty much resigned myself to singing in community and church choirs. I figured I'd never get the chance to do a lot of the really good, hard choral repertoire.

A couple of weeks ago Paul and I went to a concert Ladyesong held in our church. I was impressed and I loved their songs. I wanted to be up there singing. But these women are really good. I didn't think I was anywhere near their league. Yesterday, their conductor invited me, the lady who'd once been told to stop singing, to sing in the group. If you're local to the Bay Area, check out their website for the performance schedule. I'm so jazzed. My first rehearsal is tonight.

The moral of the story--practice and persistence does pay off. You might need a modicum of talent. You might not reach the pinnacle of whatever you want to do. You might have to wait 30 years for the payoff. But if you love doing something, don't give up.

That goes for all you writers who worry you'll never get published, too. Remember--Laura Ingalls Wilder was 65 when the first Little House book was published. I read that Tony Hillerman was in his 70s. Helen Hoover Santmeyer was 96 when . . .And the Ladies of the Club was published. If they can do it, so can you, or I, if we don't get too impatient and give up too soon.