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The Healing Powers of Singing

From an early age I was constantly exposed to music.  I have vague memories of my father bringing my sisters and I to his band practices and family get-togethers filled with laughter and songs.  I remember a birthday present I got was piano lessons and I was the happiest girl in the world.  Even though my shyness and awkwardness would sometimes make me cry during my lessons when I felt I wasn’t good enough, I did appreciate every moment of it.

So when my high school offered a two week course for acoustic guitar, I jumped on the chance to learn as quickly as I could.  It was a difficult learning experience and made my fingers throb to no end.  I cursed that effin’ F major chord and swore I would one day laugh at how much it haunted me and it made me practice harder and longer.  I had mastered the first song I learned, Proud Mary by CCR, and was looking to learn more chords to the songs I loved to listen to.  I vowed I would learn to sing and play at the same time.

And learn to multitask I did.

Soon enough I started writing my own songs.  I remember the first song I ever wrote was called “Never Reachable” and was inspired by the band I absolutely loved at the time called Hanson (and let’s admit it – still love).  I remember getting a few of my girl friends together to learn it on drums and….yes….egg shaker, while I played guitar and sang.  We recorded it on tape.  I don’t remember how or why, but my father ended up hearing it and said “Is this you?” and I was nervous.  Why the hell does he want to know? I thought.  Except, back in the day I didn’t believe in swearing so I would have thought “Why the heck does he want to know?”

I admitted it was me and he seemed extremely surprised.  I then told him that I also wrote the song and I think I nearly gave him a heart attack.  He seemed so shocked that I had written a song.  I don’t remember what came after that, but I’m sure I felt less afraid and shy to write my own music after that.  His words must have been kind and supportive, forcing my insecure teenage self to be proud of what I had done.

From then on it was mostly songwriting about love and how love sucks.  Teenage girls feel that way, ya know?  But what an amazing outlet I had!  I could sing at the top of my lungs instead of screaming, although I did do my fair share of screaming and tantrums.  I could bang away on the guitar and play until my fingers bled.  I could play and cry, write and smile, and go wherever my talents would take me.  I had limits and would never be an amazing guitarist, but I mostly played to sing.

I eventually found that if enough time went by without my singing, I would feel off.  I would feel lost or confused or…angry.  Sort of like a part of me was missing that needed to be found.  Since then I decided that I wanted, no needed to sing.  It was a part of me that was never going to go away.  It wasn’t an adolescent phase that would slowly fade with time.  My body, heart and soul were all telling me that it would be something I could take with me for whenever I needed it.

When it came time to decide what to do for college, I chose to go into music.  Voice, actually.  I enrolled at a college that had a program for “Pop Voice”, but at my audition they informed me that I had to do a year of Classical Voice first, which I was unaware of.  I was so eager to learn that I said that I had absolutely no problem with that, even though inside I died a little.  I had never even heard of Classical Voice, let alone sang any style of the sorts, so I was scared.  Which brought up more insecurities.  But I somehow managed to get through it and proceed into the Pop Program.

There, I really learned what I was all about.  Through good times and bad, I sang.  My teacher, Gail, was such a role model for me.  She pushed me to my limits and made me realize what I was made of.  She believed in me, and my songs and pushed me to be all that I could be.  I can’t thank her enough for that.

With college coming to an end, I realized I no longer wanted to go on.  University was for Jazz and Classical singing, not Pop singers and I had no interest in being something I wasn’t.   Throughout that whole time of high school and a bit through college,  I was singing and playing music with a friend of mine, Jess.  Even though she lived a great distance away in Philadelphia, we would write songs and sing harmonies over speaker phone and rack up quite an exceptionally expensive long distance bill.  In reality, that was all the singing I ever really needed in life.  It really meant the world to me.

We’d learn songs by our favorite bands, perform at family parties and open up for our fathers’ bands.  It was great and amazing and I don’t look back with any regrets.  But time, distance, and life can change everything and yes, change happens.  We lost touch for a while, but I kept on trucking.

Through all those years, singing has had this amazing healing power for me.  Now, whether it’s singing my lungs out sitting in my car at a red light, or softly serenading my cat in the wee hours of the morning, I still feel that need for letting my voice out of my constricting body.  I wish it could flow more freely, without any limits or foolish boundaries.  Don’t get me wrong,  I do belt it out and let the notes echo down the halls and there are still times I wish I had a voice that could make heads turn and tears flow.  I guess that’s a selfish thought, but I feel it nonetheless.  But honestly, I just mostly sing just to feel healed.  To feel that calm and serene feeling of tranquility wash over me.  To me, that’s what singing is all about.

See you tomorrow morning!

GMJ SunGood Morning, Joe Marie

6 thoughts on “The Healing Powers of Singing

  1. I really enjoyed reading this. It is so easy, I think, to miss finding the things we are born to be able to do, by chance or circumstance. How great that you found yours and were able to pursue it. Have a beautiful song filled day x

  2. The feeling you described in this post is how I feel about writing–that need to get it out. I always wished I had vocal talent. …I don’t, but that doesn’t stop me from singing in my car or in the shower. It’s a great feeling.

  3. Music can soothe ones soul and it sounds like you found a balance that works for you. I wish I learned to play an instrument when I was a kid. I tried guitar for a credit in HS but we only learned “The Yellow Rose of Texas” and “She’ll be coming round the mountain” and I lost interest. Sigh. Eveyone needs a passion or something special, and for me it is cardmaking. Paint, ink and lots of fun papers make me very happy!

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