Thursday, January 23, 2014
Change: making a joyful noise
This is one of my tribes; I claimed my place in it this year. Last year, I hovered on the edge of this tribe; I watched and I listened, but I was afraid to join in. This year, I vowed to change that. This year, I promised myself that I would not shy away; yes, I promised myself that last year, too, but this year I did it. This year, I let myself sing.
It was a wonderful weekend, filled with music, laughter, and fun. We played well together; that was the theme of one of the classes I took, and was I ever thrilled to learn that playing well with others could mean more than just being able to play well. I'm a beginner on the resonator guitar, and although I only contributed a few notes every now and again as we played together, they were good notes, and I added something to the sound. What a kick that was! Next time, I hope to contribute more, but it was so encouraging to be able to contribute even at my level. I had so much fun with my little bit of noise.
I also learned something very important about me. I'm not Joni Mitchell and I never will be. You see, hers is the voice I hear in my head; hers is the voice I want to have. And because I don't have a soaring, rich, resonant, soprano voice, I have always felt that I shouldn't sing out loud. I have worked so hard for so long to find her voice inside of me; when I sang, I concentrated on each note and tried to make it happen. It never did, but I kept trying. And I told myself that I shouldn't sing in front of other people until it did. (Recordings don't count; I can have do-overs when I record, and I can manipulate the tones to fill in where my voice is weak; I can add echo for richness and do all sorts of things to make me sound more like I want to sound.)
This past weekend, I came face to face with those expectations, and even while I mourned that I will never have the voice I want, I realized that I am not without strengths. When I'm not trying to be Joni, I can have fun singing. I can do what I do best; I'm an actress at heart. I can sing very expressively when I concentrate on the words and forget about trying to make each note as good as possible. And I can pull other people into the song when I do that; I can give them that experience. It may not be what I wanted to have, but it's a pretty darn good thing to have.
So: Goodbye, Joni.
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