Singing in tune

“Wee-eee-eee wee-eee-ee-wee” (up a half step) “Wee-eee-eee wee-eee-ee-wee”. Last week’s voice lesson began with the familiar sound of a typical warm up, an arpeggiated triad going up to the octave at the top. I sang, likely with the furrowed brow that accompanies my daily attempts to warm up, and my teacher peered over the top of the piano at me, with a little furrowing happening on her own brow. With the type of tact and diplomacy that only a voice teacher has (I have yet to meet a teacher or coach who wasn’t half therapist) she basically told me to relax a little on the notes in the middle. “But I’m scared I’m not singing them in tune!” I admitted.

She asked “What would happen if you just let it go?” Everything would fall apart. I thought to myself, but I tried it. I sang in tune.


I have been interested in making music my whole life. By all accounts I always sang, and when I got my first recorder in third grade I was off and running. Not only was I interested in it, I was pretty good at it. I loved playing in ensembles and singing in choirs and on my own. I joined every group I could think of (including a flute choir that my mother was kind enough to sign me up for).

The fact that I have been making music since I was 8 makes it all the more ridiculous that I thought I wouldn’t know how to sing a triad in tune. I feel as if I have been singing them my whole life. I know how to do it. In fact if there is anything I know how to do, it is how to sing an arpeggio. My brain, body and guts know how to sing without me bossing it around. But still I manage, because I am afraid.

There is a sad sort of poetic justice in having my recent ailments finally be diagnosed as what most doctors believe is an auto-immune disorder. My immune system, thinking it’s doing the right thing, doesn’t know when to stop, and does more harm than good.

My mother describes me as having been “born in drive”. I have always had goals and ambition and what I would describe as a healthy desire for success. So I have worked and studied and risked and worked some more, but always with the same fear: that I didn’t actually know how to do any of it, that I was doing it wrong. And in my panic and mistrust I do exactly that which I dread.

Maybe if I took my teacher’s advice and “just let go”, I would learn that my instincts and skills are enough?

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2 Responses to Singing in tune

  1. Jen says:

    I know what you mean…like starting writing music again. I’m overthinking things, and thinking about all the reasons why I shouldn’t write. So, see? You should rely upon your instincts and skills. 🙂

  2. Flor says:

    One of the most heartening things a voice over teacher once told me was “you know more than you think you do” which he said in response to hearing me worry about how ready I was to do x, y & z. He meant that I knew what I needed to do when performing beyond what my intellect could grasp. He wasn’t promising I would get it right or even that I had “enough” talent and skill – I wouldn’t believe such a thing right now. But it helps to know that I’ve got more going for me than trying to allocate all of my ability within the realm of mental ability. I bet you know more than you think you do.

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