The moment is etched in my memory like a scar from a childhood fall. I had been studying singing for a number of months, so very excited about the progress I had made.
At the time I was also making my living as a drummer, playing all kinds of occasions. At this particular gig the band leader called a song that I had been practicing in my voice lessons. With a rush of courage and enthusiasm I instantly blurted out “can I sing this one?”
The other band members looked at me slightly shocked - “John wants to sing?” The bandleader agreed, I’m sure out of curiosity more than anything. A microphone was quickly moved over to my drum kit and I counted off the song.
The intro was playing and I took my deep breath, ready to show the other musicians my newly acquired skill. I sang the first words into the microphone and – no wait! This is not what was supposed to happen!!!
My jumbled nerves and inexperience with live singing performance combined to create an out of tune horror show. My mind raced to control my vocal cords, but I could not mentally adjust to my disembodied voice being fed back to me by monitors. This was a completely different experience than my rehearsal room.
Then the worst part, the one that still stings even as I write this. The other musicians looked at each other and began to laugh. They tried to turn their heads and hide it but I saw it as clearly as if it were being broadcast in Times Square.
Much to my dismay, I had only now sung the first line. I had the entire song to go! Truly, if the earth could have opened up and swallowed me I would have gladly gone.
Yes, the rest of the song was as bad as the first line.
A New Beginning
That was the moment I decided to take voice seriously. Sure I could have gone the other way and quit, but that was not to be my path.
From that moment I began practicing and studying harder. I went to low pressure karaoke events and got used to singing on a mic and in front of others. I started learning vocal harmony and sang backup on a few songs with the band.
Singing became my passion and mission rather than a new hobby.
A funny thing happened, in time I moved from behind the drums and became a lead singer. I started writing songs and got a record deal with my new band.
After the record deal fell through (another failure) I discovered teaching. I poured myself just as passionately into my new pursuit.
I write this as a voice teacher because I failed miserably one long ago night. I’m able to do what I love and share it with extremely talented people, all because I was laughed at.
It was one of the best nights of my life!
I tell you this because I want you to pursue singing and music without fear. I want you to fail spectacularly and miserably. I want the good and the bad to fuel you.
I want you to know the joy of living a music filled life.