Monday, November 9, 2009

A Little Tale of Something Wonderful

A short time ago, I wrote about how I am rediscovering the musical theater songs that I had loved to sing when I was younger. (See "Reincorporating the Belt Voice")  Since that day, I have been pulling out song after song that I have learned from musical theatre, and making copies to put in my "book."  (Ha, for the first time in my life as a singer, I am building a "book" of songs I sing.)

I have been finding that I have a special relationship with each song, and that there is a story that goes along with many of them.  I had not realized that I was making these memories and building these stories as I was learning these songs.  So, this is a time of self-exploration and finding meaning in my life as an avocational singer. ("Know Yourself Through Your Songs")

Well, among these songs is one called "Something Wonderful" from the musical, The King and I.  This song has been with me almost from the first few weeks of starting to take singing lessons about 25 years ago.  It was handed to me by my first singing teacher and she seemed to think it was a really great song for me, and we worked on it a LOT over the 7-8 years I was with her.

As I've explained with great redundancy, one would think that having worked on a song that much, it would be something pretty wonderful!  But, I have already told everyone here that I really struggled and just didn't get it for many years of vocal training.

During the time I was engaged to be married, my now-husband and I talked about my singing.  He asked if I had any professional aspirations.  Since I did not think that I was technically able to make a professional quality sound, I said I guess I didn't.  I did communicate to him how important it was for me to keep studying voice, so he went into our marriage knowing that my singing, even if only a hobby, was going to have be a part of our life together.

After the wedding, I continued to study with that first voice teacher of mine, commuting into the Manhattan, since I moved out when I got married.

Eventually I gave birth to my first child and I became a breastfeeding mother. At this point, my teacher was kind enough to start coming to my house so I could continue to study with her.

The occasion of my son's first birthday soon arrived, and my husband planned a giant birthday bash at a restaurant and hired a band, and we invited my singing teacher to the party.  By now I had been studying with her for about 7 years.

My teacher heard there would be a band there and thought wouldn't it be a great opportunity for me to sing at the party!  At that point, I had been studying voice with her for 7 years, but had not sung solo anywhere for probably about 10 years.  She decided that the song we had always worked on so much, "Something Wonderful," would be something perfect  to use.

Now, this event, this One-year Birthday Party for my Son Where I Sang "Something Wonderful" With the Band, is etched in my mind as an absolute nightmare.  This is what I remember happening:

My husband was supposed to hold the baby for me while I got up and sang.  I did not rehearse with the band, nor had I ever sung with a band before in my life, and they didn't know the song but were going to sight read it.  (Got that?  Technically weak singer, hadn't sung a solo for 10 years, never sung with a band, didn't practice with available band, band is sight reading.)  Just before I was about to sing, the baby started indicating he wanted me and my husband said, "Here, he wants you," and thrust my son into my arms.  (Okay, got that?  All of the above + holding a baby, and upset and angry at dear husband!)  My memory is that I held the baby and sang, and that the band was off-key, hard to follow and playing very slowly and I didn't know how to get them to play faster.  (Oh, I should also mention that I had never even done the song with the accompaniment at all, ever, so I wasn't even sure what it sounded like.)  After the "catastrophe" was over, a very close friend of ours, who loved to go to karaoke, and always was interested in the fact that I liked to sing, yet had never heard me sing, commented to me, "Wow, you know, that's a very difficult song to sing!"

Well, I have a video of that "performance."  I have posted it for you in Frescamari's practice room.  And it is funny, because when I go back and watch the video, I cringe with the remembrance of how upset I felt and how poorly  it went.  But, the way my dad took the video, I saw that it was not as "horrible" a moment of my life as I experienced at the time.  There were so many nice things.  I was surrounded by loving family and friends.  I had a wonderful husband and a beautiful baby. I had supportive friends rooting for me. And, although not professional level, the singing wasn't that bad.  Sometimes when we're upset, we don't see or hear the good things happening all around us.  That a seemingly "horrible" moment is sometimes really a moment with a lot to be grateful for.

I later brought the song Something Wonderful for a dramatic coaching with the woman who is now my singing teacher.  Still, after 25 years, I couldn't sing this song, but now finally, with my present teacher's help, I think I'm getting a handle on it.

But today I do think I'm finally beginning to be able to sing "Something Wonderful."  Yes, sir, I'm a little embarrassed to say that it has taken me literally 25 years to get to a point where I think it is beginning to sound nice.  I have put the recording of me singing it today under the video in Frescamari's Practice Room as well.  I definitely will be singing this song at my 50th Birthday Recital Bash (Did you see the countdown clock on the side of the blog here?)
Click here to see Something Wonderful -- 16 Years Ago and Today in Frescamari's Practice Room

1 comment:

  1. I don't know what it is about us singers that makes us mentally warp our perception of our own performances. It's common for me to watch or listen to my performance at a later time and realize that it is not as bad (or good) as I thought it was while performing. Thank goodness for recording devices, and a little bit of time to give us a bit of emotional detachment and objectivity.