Monday, 30 April 2012

Anyone can sing

Singing, if you have the power of speech and can hear is just another exercise.

Not everyone has a beautiful voice, but everyone can sing, and with practise can sing fairly well.

Having just returned from a singing lesson where I tried for the first time ever to sing the Agnus Dei from Mozart's Coronation Mass, I can state with absolute certainty that it is possible for anyone to at least try.

When I was a child I was told I had a 'nice' voice and adults tried to get me to sing to them on every conceivable occasion.  I wouldn't, couldn't do so.  Nerves, embarrassment, fear of criticism made me mute.

Very old friends could occasionally persuade me to sing for their parents or grandparents but only if I could stand behind a door or a curtain.

At school when required to sing in a school concert I would only do so if someone, anyone, else would sing with me, and it wasn't until I was about 18 and had left school that I joined a choir and really began to enjoy singing for its own sake.

Many years later, having had years of tuition from a really excellent teacher, I had Morley College Opera, Kentish Opera, The New Opera Company and others under my belt and was at last aware of having quite a good voice and of feeling proud of it.

After I married I gave up singing, having no time or energy for all the necessary rehearsals, and it wasn't until John who had a good strong bass/baritone decided to audition for the London Philharmonic Chorus that I once again found myself auditioning.  This time for John Alldiss.  He accepted me (as a first soprano) and turned John down.

Despite his hurt feelings John always supported my endeavours and attended all the concerts in which I sang for the next 7 or so years.

After a very severe attack of bronchitis and being unable to speak for several weeks, I found to my horror that when I returned to the 'Phil' who were rehearsing the Bach B Minor Mass, I could not pitch at all and I was making a most horrible noise.  I handed my score in and never went back.

After that I didn't sing for 24 years, and it was after John's death that I first tried a few tentative notes.  I sang bass with a local school choir in their Christmas concert at St. Mary's church and from there took the first steps to singing with the church choir.

Luckily for me, the musical director pointed me in the direction of their voice coach who is also a very good teacher of voice,, and hey presto, singing was again on the agenda.

That was two years ago, and apart from some loss of power, plus the fact that I'm now a contralto there is still a reasonable voice in my crumbling ancient frame.

If I can sing, so can you.

The picture at the top is of the last opera in which I sang.  It was a performance of  "The Bartered Bride" at Sadlers Wells theatre and I am the one on 2nd right at the front.


  1. Wow lovely to hear some more about you Ray x.

  2. Ray, I've been trying to tell people this for years, but you put it so much better than I. I've always been able to sing, not as well as my sisters or my daughter, but adequately in an amateur choir setting and it was my favourite pastime at college. A bad attack of asthma, plus a lot of inhaled steroids, damaged my voice for a long time, but it has gradually come back reasonably well. I do wish I could hear you sing. :-)

  3. excellent...I have always considered my voice a "filler"...I've enjoyed singing in small church choirs over the years because I like music and singing. I still enjoying singing when I'm alone!

    one of the things I loved about Don...he couldn't carry a tune in a bucket...BUT he LOVED to sing! And that was OK with me!

    how wonderful that God gifted you with the ability to sing well! And that you have used your talent!

  4. How wonderful to have had the ability and the experience with singing that you have. Both my parents and my sister took part in choruses and choirs -- but something happened to my voice -- probably from screaming at my siblings when I was young ;-)... Love the Bartered Bride. One thing for sure, I do appreciate hearing it!

  5. So true what you posted. Anybody can sing. Albeit I've only a very average voice of uncertain quality and am only an occasional choir member nowadays, the decision to take individual voice lessons was the best I"ve ever taken; in terms of confidence and as a mood lifter, it's worked wonders!

  6. Plenty more where that came from Jane.

  7. Your story is similar to mine perpetua. It really is worth trying again even if the 'gap' has been a lengthy one. Singing really is its own reward.

    I think you would gain very little benefit from hearing me sing, so perhaps it's as well it is an unlikely scenario.

  8. Yes, thanks Theanne. You're right of course. The ability to sing reasonably well is a gift and wasting it would be unthinkable.

  9. I know what you mean about screaming at siblings Broad. Most of my youth was accomplished by virtue of excess decibels.
    Having three brothers created a need 'to be heard'.
    Never could scream however, but oh boy, could I bellow!

  10. Hi Greenpatches. I do so agree about the benefits of singing lessons from every point of view.
    Even as therapy alone they are worth their weight in gold.

  11. I'm trying hard to get something of a singing voice for church. My voice disappeared just before I retired and Oh how I miss it. Let's face it, though, we can all sing in the shower or bath. Keep enjoying it! Every Blessing

  12. Hmmn. Not sure about the benefits of steam on the voice, but certainly the sound of running water can disguise a lot of the not so good noises we make.
    I used to sing all over the house when I was young, but haven't done so for 30 or more years. Too scared someone might hear and call the noise pollution police.
    Keep trying Freda.

  13. Ray, hope you will not be upset when I tell you that I cannot sing, cannot pitch a note and have no sense of rhythm. Even I secondary school I was banned from music lessons as the staff thought my attempts to sing were me mucking about. Instead I was detailed to do the staff washing up.

    When my son was very little I attempted to sing nursery rhymes to him, his response was "Mummy, don't " so I didn't try again.

    I have become very good at mouthing the words, no sound comes out but I am singing inside.

    Pleased to say that son and daughter can both sing, son graduated from Scout gang shows to Gilbert & Sullivan at university; daughter was a Bishop's Chorister. Husband sings in our church choir so am a choir widow

  14. Now that is really sad PixieMum.
    If it is true, you are one in just about 500,000 who are genuinely 'tone-deaf'
    One way to test whether you really are such a one, is to sit close to a piano or keyboard (preferably on your own), play one note repeatedly and sing it after each attempt.
    If after a dozen or so efforts the two sounds are still poles apart then you really are tone-deaf.
    If on the other hand, they merge and become one sound at any stage there is hope for you.