Friday, September 25, 2009

My First Voice Lesson

I indulged in a pity party when my dad gave me a zinger, then decided I was gonna stop moping and improve my voice. I dialed the number I've had up on my bulletin board for a while now, and left a message for a vocal instructor, whom I will heretofore call Vi.

I'd never had voice lessons and I came to my first one with some trepidation. Especially since on her message and when I talked to her on the phone, she sounded a little snarky. She lived in this little house with a cat on the window sill, and that made me smile and relax.

She looked a decade younger than me, freshly graduated from her masters, and looking to build her voice lesson clientele. We spent a few minutes chatting and she said her training is classical but that a lot of the techniques can transfer over to rock.

I am an "alto 2," Vi says so. Which I already suspected. But now it's official.

Warming up exercises is not for the inhibited. I was doing things with my mouth that I'd have scolded my children if they were to do this at the dinner table. Like blubbering and letting my mouth hang open as though I had marbles in my mouth.

We worked on "All Your Love". She taught me the "belt" style. When my CD recording began playing she said her dad would love that music. I told her I wanted to learn how to project my voice better and really rock out. While I sang, she kind of manipulated my posture and chin and chest and everything! that it was really hard to just sing. I have to unlearn some breathing I have done for the last thirty some-odd years. Not an easy feat, but I am sure I can learn.

There's another teacher I will check out next week. She lives closer and is more experienced. She said I wouldn't have to perform in a recital if I didn't want to, and I resisted the urge to giggle. Me - reluctant to perform in front of people. It's like saying I don't have to breathe if I didn't want to.

Meanwhile, I wandered into the music store the other day and came upon a guitar recital. Oh man, I can't really afford both voice and guitar lessons, but the atmosphere in that room was electric (and not just because there were cool-looking guitars on the stage)! What a fun bunch of people. I would LOVE to be part of a guitar recital someday. Or maybe even play guitar with my band on some songs.

But for now, voice!

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Practice went so much better yesterday.

Especially since I told myself, dagnabbit, Jewel, have fun. Advice that came from an unlikely source: my hubby.

He didn't like the idea of me joining this band in the first place. Probably still doesn't, just not admitting it. But when I say, "I don't know if I can do this any more..." he says, you committed to this, so be a team player and buck up.


-Sang It's So Easy in higher key, and I liked that so much better. I sang it for L the way I like it and he found the right notes which I think is amazing.

-Sang my song Wishing on a Star and was thinking, "Wow, I can't believe I'm really singing something I wrote." Arrangement varies every time we practice it; I think I like the earliest versions as far as the guitar, though this last one I liked the tempo better. While singing it, I saw L watching my face, then smile at me, and I wondered if I looked so silly-transparent in my pleasure. For a rock band, this song is bubblegum pop, and I worry that my band mates don't really like my song. If they don't, they are good actors. (I have another song on the backburner. I wrote it with 70's sensibility in mind. Can't wait to come up with melody after this next performance. I hope the band will really get into it.)

-I don't like the message of the song I Wanna Be Sedated but I know the rest of the band likes to play it (silly that we are such at odds over one song), so I suggested that someone else sings it. This seemed like a good compromise. Such a relief for me to not sing it. It might not make the October first playlist yet because B kind of just got thrown into it and the lyrics had lots of "..." which I am sure confused him, but maybe in future. Meanwhile, I am off the hook. :-)

-We had so many songs! Probably at least three hours worth, and we have to whittle our list down to 2 hours. But it's good to know we are building up a repertoire.

-The band played the chicken dance. I'm looking forward to getting some audience volunteers to come up and teach the rest of the crowd. Our gig is at a military base, and it'd be a hoot if I can convince some hardened general-type to get up and do it for me.

One more practice week!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

This Is For Fun, Right?

The other day, I showed up to practice thinking, "Okay, I'm gonna get down to work, then leave."

Since when did this band thing constitute work?

Maybe since I heard that the October first gig is a paying one. Or it could be because it's hard for me to really get into some of the songs.

Whatever the reason, I can choose to have fun! And be happy!

It's no fun singing when I am gritting my teeth the entire time.

The goal is to have fun with my male band mates but still have an appropriate amount of emotional distance.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Feels Good To Sing Again

Scratchy throat today...almost losing my voice, in fact. Midday, went to practice which went very well. voice actually does better when I have a little raspiness to it.

It felt good to sing again with the band after about a month of a hiatus.

Practiced my song some more, and I liked the slower tempo better. Will go with the higher note.

Added Neil Young's "Like a Hurricane" (which I really like) and "It's So Easy" (Linda Ronstadt cover of Buddy Holly's song). I will need to work double time on memorizing.

Just two weeks away until prime time!

R had a Martin acoustic electric propped in the basement. What a beauty. Someday, I 'd like one, too. Mentioned it to R, and he suggested I focus on the keyboard, which doesn't excite me as much, but I know I ought to give it a shot. After our October first gig, I plan to look up more music pieces to see if I can find some keyboards to complement guitar riffs.

A little rusty on lyrics, but for the most part, remembered them. It felt weird to stand there, panicky for a moment, and then the words just pour out. What a relief when that happens.

I kept wanting to sing "Stand on me" instead of "Stand by me". :-)


Why is it that when we are finally scheduled to have a practice, I get a sore throat?

Why do I care what the girls in the opening act to Keith Urban's concert were wearing?

Why do I worry about what to wear to our October first gig when singing should be what matters?

Why aren't there more uplifting rock songs?

Why do I think that male rock singers get taken more seriously for their singing than female rock singers?

Friday, September 4, 2009

While I Wait

It's official. The band has a gig on October first.

And we haven't practiced since the start of August, before I went on a two-week vacation, due to schedules that aren't quite lining up.


Well, I have tried to practice here at home, but it is not the same. I think my voice is feeling it, like a muscle that is a little rusty from dis-use.

Ah, well. Life happens. And my hope is when we come together again, we will be refreshed and ready to rock.

So meanwhile, I have been playing a lot of acoustic guitar. I am learning "Grandma's Feathered Bed" and my kids always jump in with "ewww" at the right moment (after "...I kissed Aunt Lou") and I told them they should sing and dance back up if I ever perform this in public. They give me this panicked look.

And learning some new songs. I have discovered Linda Ronstadt. I plan to sing "That'll be day" a note lower than she does. Wouldn't have occured to me to sing a cover of a cover of a Buddy Holly song if it weren't for R suggesting it. Fun song.

Got a copy of our band's take on my original song, "Wishing on a Star". So cool to hear it, though a bit rough in the edges. There's two versions, one is in a higher note. I find it easier to sing the higher one, but the lower one brings out a richness in my voice. I am leaning towards the lower one.

I have a lot to learn in songwriting, like how to make my songs more interesting by varying the arrangement. I am excited to write more songs.