Some people are born knowing how to sing (Jordin Sparks, David Archuleta, Rachael Lampa). Others are born with the desire (and a decent enough ear) but we have to learn how to sing.
I’m part of the latter group. I felt the passion (like so many wannabe American Idols) but I was plagued with the frustration of not being able to translate that passion into sound. I spent my high school and college years mimicking other singers. After several years of observation and four years of voice lessons, I grew fairly comfortable with my voice and had reached a point where I was no longer a complete slave to its limitations.
After joining the workforce, I decided to take up voice lessons again. Imagine my dismay when my new teacher listened to me sing and then said, “We need to start from scratch.”
My voice was “nice”, she said, but it sounded like three different voices coming from one body depending on where I was within my range. So began a three-year process of unlearning how to sing in order to find my “natural voice.”
The natural voice rings from the bottom of the scale to the top. The natural voice is relaxed. The natural voice is free. A singer doesn’t make the notes happen, a singer lets them happen.
Something else important about the natural voice: it doesn’t hurt. No blood vessels pop from the neck. No look of constipation colors the cheeks red. There’s no gasping for air. In fact, gasping…pulling too much air into the lungs creates tension in the chest, shoulders, and neck (to name a few) which hampers vocal quality.
Last week I sang on the worship team. It had been awhile since I had “officially” sung. Thursday night’s practice wasn’t a pleasant experience. My throat hurt. My voice was cracking. Both bad signs.
Sunday morning before church, I took extra time to warm up. The warm up consisted of me telling myself to stop trying so hard. Don’t suck in so much breath. Don’t tense up my shoulders. Relax my jaw. Relax my chest. Relax, relax, relax. “It’s not as hard as you are trying to make it, Jessica.” Finally, training kicked in, my voice freed up, and the tension in my body dissolved. Singing didn’t hurt anymore. It was fun again. Relaxing. Enjoyable.
I realized there was a lesson in this worth pondering. Or a question, rather.
In what other areas of my life am I causing myself pain, lack of enjoyment, unnecessary fatigue because I’m trying too hard? Micro-managing every detail of my life trying to “make” everything work, instead of trusting God and cooperating with His design?
I don’t have a clear answer yet. I’m still thinking about it.
Isn’t it interesting that we are intrinsically designed to sing? We are walking musical instruments, our melodies most finely tuned when we trust the physiological mechanics of His creation. What does this say about the nature of God? About what is important to Him?
Pretty amazing, isn’t it?