Make a joyful noise

I can’t sing. I know it. My mom knows it. My husband definitely knows it. Even the poor folks who sit in the seats in front of me at church know it. I had never taken voice lessons or sang in choir. I don’t know how to sing A from C, and I don’t particularly have good rhythm.

I want to sing. There’s a singer somewhere deep inside who is desperate to sing loud and proud. There are times in the car or when I am with my kids that I make up silly operatic songs over everyday things like “What do youuuuuuuu want for lu-unch?” with some jazz hands, just to make them giggle. Thankfully, they don’t know the difference yet. But I hadn’t yet made a connection between my ears and my voice. And when it really counts, I barely move my lips and hardly a whisper emerges.

But there’s hope for me.

So I was told.

I have a friend who actually musically talented, a music major who once taught music in fact. As embarrassed as I was, I told him once, as ridiculous as it sounded, that I wished I could sing. To my complete surprise, he said: you can! He explained to me that singing is a skill based on muscle memory. The voice is an instrument that can be learned like a piano. Obviously, some people have God-given talent. But for everyone there’s always ways to improve. So, over the past two years, I had been thinking about taking voice lessons.

My reasons for lessons weren’t grandiose. I didn’t expect to get on stage for church or sing a solo in a talent show. I just want some confidence, to overcome the fear of my voice. I want to enjoy singing, not be distracted by how bad I think I might sound. Singing is fun and it’s good for my soul. Above all, I wanted to worship God with singing. I want to honor Him with my voice. One of my favorite songs to sing, alone in the car of course, has a verse:

I love you, Lord
And I lift my voice
To worship you, Oh my soul. Rejoice!
Take joy, my King, in what you hear
May it be a sweet, sweet sound in your ear

I know that my song to Him doesn’t have any requirements for tone or pitch or resonance. He doesn’t hear my voice the way people do. He hears my heart. But there’s still my flesh getting in the way, a barrier to my singing my heart out for God. My fear of what others think.

Well, I finally did it. I stepped outside my comfort zone to embrace something new. A dear, patient friend of mine does voice and piano lessons in her home. In exchange for creating Music by Liz‘s logo and business card, I had 2 free lessons to get started and then I continued at $20/lesson.

My first lesson was the hardest. I had to overcome how self-conscious I was, even when it was just me and the voice coach, Ms Liz. First up? Scales of course. She played on the piano and sang la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, laaaaa! I sang … something that didn’t sound even close. “Okaaaay. How about I play one note at a time?” She said in a nonjudgmental voice as if speaking to one of her early education students. So embarrassing. But I pressed on. One note at a time.

One of the things I learned about myself throughout the lessons was that I have a hard time “hearing” the piano. I can match pitch much more easily to a voice than the piano. As unbelievable as I thought it was, I *can* match pitch to the piano, it just takes me a little bit longer and is a bit more work. I know that if I made it a priority and put the time and effort in, I could make a real difference. Even after just a few months (and not as much practice as I wish I could have), I was able to do the scales more easily (still not perfectly!) and with some confidence.

I also learned that first lesson that I am soprano. Seems to most people maybe that I should have already known that, but I didn’t. It was really exciting to me, just to label where I fit. Having a greater awareness of my voice, how to breathe when I sing and even knowing what my weaknesses are was really exciting to me. Even conquering my fear of singing solo with someone else listening (an adult that is). I did it! As a side note, some of the skills she had me practice were great for releasing tension and aggression while driving (better to sing Mama Made Me Mash My M&Ms! loudly than to scream at the car in front of you that you can’t control!).

Unfortunately, I only had time for a few months of bi-weekly lessons before other priorities got in the way. I am excited about what I learned and how much I improved. I am not sure if my mom would appreciate it or my husband or the people who sit in the pew in front of me … But I can sing louder and with more confidence.

“Worship the Lord with gladness; come into his presence with singing.” Psalm 100:2

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2 thoughts on “Make a joyful noise

  1. Good for you Sara. I have wondered if I could or should take voice lessons, but have not and probably will not. I did sing in youth choirs. My best friend asked why!

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