Saturday, May 17, 2014

Music or Not

Most people have this innate sense about whether or not they are a good singer.  Not me, though.  There was a day when I was totally convinced that I could sing well  and if there had been an American Idol show at the time, I probably would have considered trying out.  As it was, my saintly family put up with me singing around the house at all hours and on a  regular basis even rallying my younger siblings together and directing singing performances to be recorded onto a cassette tape.  I was always the lead singer.

The first hint that I might be mistaken about my musical abilities was one day as a teen I was singing along to the radio in the car and my younger brother jumped out and walked the 2 miles to his destination, claiming that he couldn't stand to hear me sing another second.  A couple of years later, I had a roommate who stopped every one of my cheerful performances with a dirty look and a curt, "Keep your day job."  Then finally in a church choir, I became the focus of much consternation to the director with perfect pitch who couldn't decide what to do with me and my out of tune singing.  She kept shuffling my spot around and finally put me in the back corner, where I guess I wouldn't taint as many people with my off-notes.  That was when I finally realized that I was not meant to be a musician and I was crushed.

After spending 21+ years of my life thinking that I was a fabulous singer, the realization that I wasn't brought me into a sort of mourning.   I spent the next several years avoiding  singing where anyone could hear me, thinking that everyone would just be thinking that I should just "keep my day job."  Sadly I still don't sing around the house as much as I used to,  however I  have since come to a happier acceptance about my lack of ability and  do again at least love to sing with my family.  We sing a few songs together almost every day.

One day a few years ago I read a study that found that musical ability was an inheritable trait, meaning that  someone without a musical gene could become an okay, even good musician with a lot of practice, but that it would be unlikely for them to ever be skilled enough to become a professional musician.    Aha!   Reading that article comforted me immensely that not only was it not necessarily my fault that I am not a great musician, but that I was probably a much better singer than my genetics predisposed me to, because I spent so much time honing my skill as a youth.

Thankfully for my children,  Glen's  genetic lines are much more tonal than my own and our kids are, without even trying, leaps and bounds beyond where I am musically.   That combined with a couple of kids who actually love to practice their music and it's an exciting thing to see their talents developing in ways that I could only ever dream of!


Chelsey said...

Perfect pitch singing isn't the only thing that brings the beautiful magic of song. Music speaks and expresses the soul in ways that no other form of communication can. I love you and nothing would bring me more joy than to hear you sing!

Ruth said...

I don't sing very well either, but I love to remember that the song of the righteous is a prayer to the Lord.

Jennifer McArthur said...

Ha! Ha! I can't carry a tune in a bucket to save my life. I've been mouthing the words to all the songs at church since my early teens. I've always known I was a bad singer, but it wasn't until I got married and Eric forbade me from singing during FHE or family prayer, that I fully appreciated just how bad I am! So far, it looks like my poor kids may have inherited my lack of talent.

Sarah Cannon said...

That is a tragic story. I want to find the people who ended your blissful ignorance and tell them a thing or two.
I remember singing terrible opera constantly when I was around ten years old, and somehow my family put up with me too. Good thing for patient families! Glad your kids aren't putting you through the same test of patience. :)

Katie said...

Well I can't speak to your musical talent, but I am certainly a fan of the way you write! I love reading your posts!

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