I can’t remember a time when I didn’t sing. Somewhere, maybe, there’s a cassette tape recording of my dad, brother and I singing “La Bamba” while my dad plays guitar. I don’t know how old we were, but we were little. And I don’t remember the recording, I only remember hearing it years later. But singing while my dad played guitar is something that was a part of my life when I was younger. Mostly Beatles, because that’s what he liked, but also some other songs from the same era.
Those sing-a-longs stopped at some point. My dad was working longer hours, or I was too teenaged embarrassed to continue doing it. I do remember being kind of mortified when he learned to play one of the hit songs I liked at that age, “Save Tonight” by Eagle Eye Cherry.
But that wasn’t the only singing I did. I went to Catholic school, and, before high school, Sunday mass every week. To me, the best part of mass was the singing. I had favorite hymns and ones that I didn’t favor so much, but I loved the singing. I joined the choir at school and even got to be cantor a few times for weekday masses.
For a couple of years, I was in a children’s choir, the Young Naperville Singers. We gave main two concerts per year, in winter and in spring. I got to travel to Milwaukee for one performance and we sang four songs for a holiday broadcast on Naperville cable access. I quit that choir because of a disagreement over whether I had to love the song that everyone else loved. I may have been somewhat of a difficult child…
In high school, I tried some choir things, but I didn’t end up liking the groups available. Looking back, I really should have tried out for gospel choir, but I never did. Instead, I sang along on the radio on my long commutes either to school or to and from friend’s houses (I lived 30 miles from my high school and most of my friends were scattered in other directions).
In college, after my ex-boyfriend killed himself, I wrote some songs to help me process. And I even got to perform those a couple of times in public, though not around very many people who I would ever see again.
I’ve never had much success with karaoke. I’ve done it maybe twice, and both times I was so nervous that I couldn’t stay on key. Plus, my excuse is that they don’t tend to offer the songs that I know and love best.
These days, there are times when I feel like I can’t make enough time in the day to get some singing in. I sing in the shower, but I can’t sing at my desk at work. I sing in the car, but my commute is about 10 minutes, so it’s not very therapeutic. And once the weather’s nice again, I’ll be back to riding my bike.
Singing relieves stress for me and I need to make an effort to let myself have that time and space to jam out to music I can sing to. I might not get the lyrics just right, but I can belt out the tune and support the long holds. I can play with adjusting my voice to different songs, or different singers if I start singing along to the Avenue Q soundtrack.