Saturday, June 6, 2009

Singing for the Joy of It

Hello to all who may take a moment to read. I've been wanting to blog about my personal journey being an amateur/hobbyist singer for some time. One reason is because as I've searched the Internet for information on avocational singing, I have not found too much. There is lots out there written for professionals, many forums, and information on the business, but I haven't found too much where the avocational singer is the focus. So, I'm starting my own little place where I can talk about singing from a non-professional point of view.

Being a perfectionist, I was waiting to have developed a concept and format and purpose to start a blog, but it was taking me so long to make up my mind that I finally decided to just plunge in with some loose writing and see what happens.

Learning to sing has been a lifelong task for me. I have not chosen to try to be a professional singer. I have not gone to music school. I chose a life as wife and stay-at-home-mom more than 18 years ago. But living life without singing is unthinkable for me.

Considering how much I love it, how much time I dedicate to it, and how much money I've spent on lessons and music and recordings and coaching, etc.. one would think that I'd be awesome by now.

But I'm not.

So, why do I plug along day after day, year after year? What is my aim?

Sometimes I don't have an aim, but I've learned that if you don't set some kind of goal for yourself, you are not as focused.

It's like what a casual jogger might experience who, when after going out day after day after day, enjoys the experience and the health benefits, but eventually needs a little something to keep her motivated. It can be too easy, despite a love for something, to just sit down and not get one's self out there. So, at some point, the lone jogger may decide to get involved in the running community, get together with some friends for a run, join a running club, or sign up for a little 5K race, just to have something to look forward to. To have more of a reason to develop herself.

So, I make little singing goals for myself. I try to get involved in things where I will have a chance to sing. This adds a focus and direction to my daily practice.

Of course reaching out for these little outside activities connected to her hobby will expose an amateur to the "more" that is out there. The amateur will encounter the "elites." At first this can be intimidating. Like in the example of the casual jogger, at the first road race, over the megaphone is heard the announcement that the elite runners, who will finish faster, must come to the front of the line to start the race. "Wow," thinks the little amateur.

In the same way, when I first decided to join a local all-women's choir 6 years ago, after having been isolated in my home for a number of years, I was very intimidated by the "real" musicians in the choir. The soloists, the music majors. I did know how to read music, but I hadn't been in practice, and I was very afraid that someone would hear me blundering along, while behind me I heard the near-professional section leader flawlessly executing the sight reading.

What I have learned from this is that I don't dare compare myself. This can harm my experience of joy in what I do. If I start to lament that I am not in the "elite" class, then I have harmed my ability to grow, learn, discover, develop, harmonize. Everything that I have loved and that has given me joy will go down the tubes the moment I let myself compare. This comparison, or regret, is like a poison that will take away this golden hobby that gives me hope and makes my days worthwhile.

So, I make little personal plans, set up little programs to achieve the little goals that I come up with. This give me hope and joy. Knowing that I will get to my singing makes the mundane tasks and obligations easier to get through.

The first thing I love about being a hobbyist singer is that I can do it for the sheer pleasure, joy, and passion of it. This becomes my first purpose. This is one of the "perks" of not being a professional, as far as I can see. That first and foremost, singing must enhance my life and make it more enjoyable.


  1. great to see you have joined the blogging world!!! I am looking forward to reading EVERYTHING!

  2. Thanks for starting this blog, Frances. You said it all just right. What's the next goal for you?

  3. Susan, thanks for checking it out. You were the inspiration because you made it look so easy. Also, what you wrote in your blog about DOING jolted me out of the thinking mode and stimulated me to take the plunge!

    Jan, I do have some goals and projects I'm working on, one big one, and little mini ones leading up to the big one. I'm not yet ready to reveal the big goal, but I'll tell you that right now I'm working with a pianist learning the Erbarme Dich from St. Matthew's Passion by J.S. Bach. I have many songs that I have worked on and set aside, not unlike a room full of unfinished paintings (which is easy as an amateur to do because there aren't any deadlines), and I have a goal to produce a polished and finished piece. I would like to make a recording of it. This is the first time in all these years that I have "treated" myself to a pianist and I find that it is quite an experience.

  4. Fresca, I'm a little late to this, but I'm SO excited to discover that you have started an avocational singer blog! I'm grateful to find someone whose singing journey I can relate to. I often feel that we who are avocational classical singers are in a kind of purgatory. On the one hand, we aspire to a higher bar than a majority of self-described amateur singers. On the other hand, I often feel like a second-class citizen when I mingle online with the ranks of the pro-track singers. I will be glad to hear about how you are forging your own avocational singing path and hope to draw some inspiration and ideas from it. I look forward to catching up on your bloggings; don't be surprised if I pepper you with comments and questions!

  5. Blue Yonder, Thanks for coming by to read. I love reading your posts over at NFCS. I agree with your description of how this is kind of an odd singing journey, and totally understand why use the word "purgatory" to describe the state. I started this blog as an outlet for that. I think there should be some kind of community within the music world and online for this category of singer. I welcome any and all comments you have to bring. Pepper away!