It’s official. I love music more than I love books.
Books transport you. When they get good – I mean really good – you leave this planet. Maybe even this dimension. I change who I am for books. I do all-nighters for books.
But music…if books take me away from this world, music holds me together right where I stand. Which might explain why days pass where I never stop listening to it. On sad days and on happy days I wake up, walk into the bathroom, and turn on the speaker. Then I play…anything. Rump shakers, soul from two decades ago, Andrea Bocelli, Kendrick Lamar. In the shower, I test my voice (because it’s the absolute perfect place), and I waste time getting ready making sure my phone stays within Bluetooth range. Then I get in the car and plug my phone in …and then at work my coworkers tease me for bopping beneath my headphones…and then on the way home…and then when I’m cooking…you get it. Many nights the beat doesn’t stop until my head hits the pillow.
You’d think I love music enough to be brave about it. To play an instrument or sing every chance I get. To find a stage and proclaim “there’s music here and I have to be a part of it.”
Music terrifies me. And what’s worse is how I used to treat musicians. What I did was basically the equivalent of fit-shaming a fitness blogger. Instead of thinking, “Oh, wow! They must have worked their asses off to sing like that!” I thought, “Oh they are owning this song…I fucking hate them.” I did this all the time. Jojo. H.E.R. Ariana Grande. Those girls from high school who sang in the spring musical… I’d listen to their voices…but I didn’t want to listen, but I had to listen, but I was so jealous.
I hope you realize how difficult this is for me to admit. And the only reason I’m writing this is because I finally got my shit together. One day I just realized that *gasp* I could work on becoming a better singer. I could start singing, and maybe even performing, to overcome my fear of not being as good as them. Just like that, I signed up to try voice lessons.
I sweat bullets for days. The first class was free, so I had no excuse not to go, which was unfortunate because I desperately wanted to make my name disappear from their system. And then they called me to make sure I was coming, and I meekly said, “Yes, 5:00 is still good.” I guess I was going.
I get to the building a half hour early – plenty of time to watch all the child musicians bustle around with multicolored hairdos and to drown under the voices booming behind rooms that do nothing to quiet the music within them. My instructor finds me, and now, as expected, he wants to hear my voice. Dun dun dunn.
Two million minutes later: “You have a great voice. Lots of soul.”
Me: “OMG. I still remember the time my voice cracked auditioning with that song in 6th grade!” Yes, the girl’s got issues.
But I survived, and he empathized with me – “Our voices are so intimate. Our voices aren’t like instruments that we can tune or swap out. They can’t just be fixed; they’re ours.” Preach, brotha.
But then I sang some more. And we did scales, and he taught me that music has a theory (and that I’ll work on that somehow), and we sang Amy Winehouse together, and he pushed me to sing at the top of my lungs.
And then he advised me to stop singing like I was waiting to get shot.
The rest is history. I can now sing fearlessly.
Hahahahaha. I’m just kiddin’. My classes (which I now attend weekly) have taken a huge weight off, but they still make me anxious. Each week, I think, “I can’t believe I’m doing this shit,” and then I do it. I replaced a lot of negative envy and bullshit with love – I LOVE MUSIC. So now I’m going to be a part of it.
That’s my dirty, melodic secret: I took my singing from bathrooms and cars to other confined spaces! But maybe one day – if you’re lucky – I might sing for you.
Author’s note: I’m thinking about changing this blog to Thoughts of a Girl Who’s Terrified of Everything.