ruthless compassion (aroraborealis) wrote,
ruthless compassion
aroraborealis

singing, singing!

Back in December, miss_chance's birthday wish spurred me into starting voice lessons, which I had been wanting to do for quite some time. Since then, I've been going weekly (other than travel other occasional delays) to lessons with Jeannine Hebb, a local singer-songwriter, whose teaching style suits me perfectly -- very laid-back and fun. (If anyone wants her email address, let me know. She's in Brighton, near Cleveland Circle.) Since I'm going entirely for myself, not to perform or anything like that, I'm pretty flexible about the sorts of things we sing, and I'm really open to her suggestions as far as what to sing goes, which I think is fun for her, too. I also am starting from really far down, which means it's easy to make progress and feel like I'm coming along.

I'm totally loving the lessons, and the new music I'm learning, and just generally having a blast with it. It's such fun to be learning something new, and to be musical. Typically, after a class, I feel deeply relaxed, in the same way that I did after doing an interpretation in Guate (less intensely, though) and energized in a similar way to after a great dance. it's... it's just great.

So, I'm going to keep track of my progress occasionally (but not weekly), just for myself, and, well, you all can listen in if you care to.



We started out with super basics, just some voice exercises and the like, and singing something we both like and that I'm familiar with: Fiona Apple. First, "Slow Like Honey" and then "Shadowboxer" -- my choices. Fiona's firmly in the bottom of my range, which is where I felt more comfortable singing, but it turns out that these, especially SLH, aren't exactly the easiest songs to sing. Also, I have a hard time injecting a lot of attitude, because I spend a lot of time being shy when I'm singing, so that didn't work great for Shadowboxer. Nevertheless, we spent the first month or so on those, and ended up with me being able to (mostly) sing alone with her accompanying me on the piano. (Singing alone! Scary!)

Then I gave her a list of songs I like that I'd be interested to try singing, but she's got to try to find the music and such for them, so we did Tracy Chapman's "Give Me One Reason" -- which was so much easier, musically, than Fiona Apple! That was a big change, and still had me working on the attitude. Actually, I'm still working on the attitude, but it's coming along a bit as I (slowly, slowly) become less self-conscious about singing.

After that, we moved to Bonnie Raitt's "Something to Talk About", which what, perhaps, Jeannine's sneaky way of getting me to sing in my higher range, but it turned out to be a super fun song to do. Still with the attitude, but it was kinda bluesy, which it turns out I like a lot, not just to listen to but to sing.

Now, we're in older stuff, none of which I knew before: We did "Gee, Baby, Ain't I Good to You" (Don Redman) from the 20s, which is very 20s bluesy, and fun. This was my first time doing anything even remotely improvisational (with a lot of help), and it's interesting to think about playing with what I'm singing that way, though real improvisation is a ways off, of course. Now, we've moved from that to "Willow Weep for Me" by Ann Ronell, from the early 30s, which I loooooooooove. Still bluesy, a little jazzy, very slidey and fun to sing. Also, fairly challenging, in a good way. And we also just started "Black Coffee" (Paul Francis Webster & Sonny Burke) from the late 40s. These two are good to sing together (well, one after the other) because they're vastly different, both in style and range, so it gives my high voice a rest to sing Black Coffee after Willow.

As far as progress, I feel vastly more confident that I did in December, and my range has obviously increased. I'm much more confident with my higher range, too, where I kind of didn't want even to do warm-ups when I first got started, but now I'm singing up in my squeaky range and I think it sounds, if not good, at least like singing. I had a lot of ideas of songs to sing, but I told her that she should feel free to make suggestions -- she's the pro, after all -- and that's working extremely well.

I'm not on the road to concerts or public singing, but I may be on the road to singing around the house without worrying if the roommates are home. It's really quite fantastic.

Now, I need a singing icon!
Tags: singing
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