I had my first singing lesson this past week for the first time since my high school choir days and boy let me tell you, it was not at all how I expected it to be.
Back in school I loved choir, the group of girls blending their voices together so perfectly creating a beautiful three-part harmony was everything. It was one of my favorite classes, besides yearbook of course. Since high school I didn’t take another choir class or voice lesson, I sort of just moved on from the singing side of life.
There is an amazing woman named Colleen Hawks in my Soroptimist group and she is so talented in the performing arts that she is from Oakdale but made her way to the great ‘Big Apple’ of New York City to further her career in the performing arts. One major role she is known for is playing in Shrek: The Musical on Broadway as the fairy godmother and the voice of the bird that Fiona sings to and eventually explodes due to her vocals.
She is now back home and thriving as a vocal teacher to those in the region and those remotely through Zoom.
I had been talking to her about taking some lessons with her but it just hadn’t happened. During one of the past Soroptimist meetings, however, I made it official and decided to set a date for my first appointment.
Now, I walked in knowing what I already knew about singing and the things needed to create a clean, full sound, but she sat me down and began to ask me questions about the basics of singing and I froze. I forgot everything I knew and realized that I did not know as much as I thought I did. I got a lot of anxiety and started to want to bring my head back into my shell like a turtle. But I kept going and kept listening and tried to just listen with open ears. We then moved onto some vocal exercises and I struggled harshly. I had a realization that I chose to resort to saying “I can’t” when I would struggle with an exercise rather than keep trying. Then during the first song she had me sing which I got to choose, I could notice that I would tend to sing quieter and not have the confidence that I was on the right notes and tempo when I knew that song like the back of my hand.
As I left the appointment I kept thinking while I was driving home that I had zero confidence in there. I sing all the time at home, in the car, in the shower and belt my heart out in my room. But once I walked in that room and had to sing in front of her and look at myself in the mirror while doing so? I lost all the confidence. Also, during the appointment when she was teaching me some belting exercises, I felt almost teary eyed just trying to push my voice across the room. Teary eyed to have my confidence be put on the spot and have it fail.
Then it got me thinking, confidence, something that everyone has yet many struggle with. Why is it so important? Why should we all have confidence in ourselves?
Confidence is a tricky thing, and it is needed and used everywhere. We need some sort of confidence to get us through life, it is more important than we know because it is needed in more ways than one.
I am nervous but excited to see how doing these constant singing lessons will affect my confidence and if I can have solid confidence within those lessons, maybe it will give me confidence in life.
Sarah Lawson is a former staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Escalon Times and The Riverbank News; she continues to contribute a regular column.