Olga once told me the worst thing you can do when you lose your voice is to whisper.
Instead, she said, you should either stay silent or try to talk normally so as not to damage the vocal chords. Clearly over the past year, I chose silence.
Just like talking about losing my voice found its appropriate time to be spoken aloud, this new season I am walking into is surprising. With the silence broken, I find myself immersed again in music and it brings joy not sorrow. Well, not every time because sorrow lingers in the corners of words and holidays.
Last week, I found myself at church singing as if no one else might be in the room. My voice has grown stronger and in that, so has my range… Olga, one of my repositories of information on all things vocal and musical once mentioned that the voices of women establish themselves in their thirties. I think it’s kind of magical really. Her own vocal transition is testament to that. The voice is an interesting animal.
In being silent from singing for a year, my voice is making itself known now.
Several Christmases ago, I encouraged my Dad to sit at the piano and play carols so we could sing them. It had been years since we had sung together. He chuckled and his eyebrows unexpectedly shot up with a “really?” This dormant part of me wanted to sing with my Dad like days of yore. And we knocked out a few songs together before retiring to the living room with the rest of the family. Singing had been our language early on and somewhere along the way we had set it aside.
In retrospect, he never knew my penchant and love of singing harmony. We didn’t have mutual songs other than those that breathed of childhood and thus tasted musty and out-of-date in my high school aged mouth. I fretted over sentimentality and he could appreciate it. I embarrassed easily when singing alone.
And then came college. And Choral Union with Ms. T. Later followed by singing more with church after church and while at college with another student group.
The voice I have today reminds me of the three grey strands of hair poking out from the crown of my head. They are mine. They come at a cost. See, for anyone who likes to sing (or run or swim or bike) the limitations stop us in our heads first. To climb over that wall, conquer that impasse is to forge a new path and perhaps take a risk.
As Beck says, “you can go higher than that” to me when we sing and play together, I have passed it off with a glib rebuff. I am now scampering over those walls with delight and unabashed glee.
It feels good to sing again. Infectious. It feels good to know my Dad would want it so.