Friday, October 30, 2009

Exposing One's Self

A singer friend of mine has written this to me:
how amazing it is that you're generous enough to undergo such a journey in public!! I think I would rather appear naked in public than post unadorned practice clips
And I wrote this back to her:
I know I'm doing something a little crazy here, posting my unadorned practice clips. I am not being as "generous" as you say, though, because I am doing it totally for myself. Over the years I developed an immense amount of fear and stage fright about singing. I used to sing with abandon in the little plays the we did when I was young. (I included a picture below from 30 years ago when I was up on a stage and really having a blast in Once Upon a Mattress) But once I began to take voice lessons I developed a crippling fear, and would get up and shake uncontrollably. This fear ruined everything, and took away all the fun I always had getting up and singing.

My posting these clips is part of an overall desperate attempt to free myself so that I can have one last shot at getting out there and singing something .... something ... almost anywhere at this very late stage in the game.

You know, I have a cousin who is a dancer, and she had been one of the Rockettes (don't know if she's still doing that or not). I had heard from her sister (my other cousin) that she had  ... inhibitions, and in order to free herself of those inhibitions, she posed nude at an art school.

Well, I'm a bit conservative about things like that. Dear Lord! I would think, Do I have to go to that extreme to "free" myself, or can I achieve the same result another way? I often would try to think if there was another way I could expose myself that would be more in keeping my own personal sense of physical modesty.

Well what you have written here has caused me to just now realize that I have actually accomplished that very task by posting these practice clips, and "exposing" the process of my struggle to learn to sing. Without realizing it, consciously, I have, in a way, solved that puzzle of how to achieve what my cousin did, without having to take off my clothes
 I am writing this blog for a number of reasons.  The first and foremost is for myself.  I have a great need to write out my thoughts regarding singing.  I used to try posting them on my singer message board, but I realized that I was "blogging" there and didn't want to use the forum in that way.

Although I did not realize it when I opened up my "Frescamari Practice Room," as I stated above in the letter to my singer-friend, I inadvertently found a way to work out my inhibitions and fear.  What I am putting up there is very flawed, but I think the reason sometimes we don't expose ourselves is for fear of people seeing/hearing the flaws.  If I can put up my flawed self, then I will be less afraid, and that may (oh, that is what I hope for) lead to better singing.

It's one thing to put it up on the Internet, and another thing to do it in real life but the Internet practice room is a start.

In choir the other day, our choir director had a small group of us (coupla' sops, coupla' sop2s, and a coupla' alti) get up and sight read through a piece.  I made myself get up there.  I felt especially vulnerable because she wanted the song sung in the most angelic and quiet of tones, and piano singing is not my forte!  I am flawed enough when singing in the voice that sounds better to me, but to use my "soft" voice in front of everyone, where I have so little control ... that is scary.  I was in a group, however the feeling of being exposed in that small group was there nevertheless.  The rest of our choir would know exactly which one of us was blundering, or mismanaging our voices.

But the thought of  "Frescamari's Practice Room" came to mind, and I realized that it had to be the same thing in the flesh.  So, I will continue to challenge myself in this way.  I am an old lady -- 48.  I see that one does not have forever to do this.  This is my one last shot at conquering my fear.


  1. Just stopped by to say: "thanks for including the link to"... and then I read your posts, and what your blog is all about.

    I'm 100% behind you. In truth, all of us who aspire to become real bel canto artists are in it together. There is so much bad teaching and bad colleague-ship out there, the only way I can imagine for us to create a new "golden age of singing" is together. By helping each other out, listening critically and being unafraid to learn in public, so that others might learn with us.

    It's a big part of why I decided to include a discussion forum with audio on, so that people can do this exact project, albeit in a more intimate and community oriented place than a public blog. Thanks for your support! I wish I could give a reciprocal link, but there's no section like that. If you include the link to the blog in your account on though, it will be publically available and visible to search engines, so it works the same way as a backlink.

    Good luck!

  2. Thanks for your commets, OHM! I expect to be spending a lot of time over at I have written here about sentiments similar to what you write. Singers helping each other, kind of the same way you see runners helping each other and cheering each other on in their goals.

    I want to read what you posted about florid singing. I took a class (written about in this blog post: and this one: in ornamentation this summer at Westminster Choir College) and what you posted at belcantoforum will enhance what I have begun to learn.

  3. So you think you're an "old lady" at 48? No way. I made my first CD at 51 and my second one last year at 54. If you believe you can do it, you will! May you have many more singing years ahead.

  4. Arachne, THANK YOU SO MUCH for posting your comment. It made my day and filled me with lots of hope. Good for you for your accomplishment!

  5. "...piano singing is not my forte!"

    Ha ha, that line made me laugh out loud!

    On the theme of exposing one's self and making your journey public, I feel this is one area where we have a leg up on professional-track singers. Once they are out on the audition circuit, they must be ever conscious of their public face and vocal image...always putting their best foot forward, and keeping tight control over how they are perceived in the world of professional singing. And that's what makes sense in their situation.

    We, on the other hand, can let it all hang out! We don't really have to please anyone but ourselves (not that that is easy!).

  6. Yes, Blue Yonder, I thought of that. For a professional singer in a career track to put her blemished practicing out there might be like a model who gets caught by the National Enquirer without her hair and makeup done or something. Maybe my practice room is no more than the equivalent of the housewife going to the store in her bathrobe with curlers in her hair!!