The Star Spangled High Note
All of her life, Stella wanted to be a singer.
She came to me with a real desire to improve her chops; and her goal was to eventually sing well enough to perform in public. The good news was that she came equipped with plenty of built-in musical skills. She had a wonderful tone, a great sense of rhythm and a strong sense of pitch. The bad news was that she carried an overwhelming belief of inadequacy. Despite my repeated attempts to assure her that she had all the natural components for an amazing voice, she still had a hard time believing that she was any good.
To get to the point, I picked a song that scares most new singers - The “Star Spangled Banner”.
The “Star Spangled Banner” is not a hard song to sing, but it can be tricky because it demands that you understand a few things. First of all, if you don’t start the song in the lowest part of your vocal range, the song just might feel impossible to manage all the way to the end. Second, there’s the freak out factor, where just the idea of singing this song in a large arena is enough to make you say forget it and run for the hills. Thirdly, there is that dreaded high note at the end that singlehandedly relays to the audience whether the singer is worthy of their praise or critical condemnation.
For Stella, I thought this song was a good choice to help stretch her core belief of vocal inadequacy and to work on vocal strength, placement and breath support. Coupled with of the belief that she wasn't really that good, every time she would anticipate a note that felt out of her comfort zone, she would clam up, shut down and tighten every muscle in her face, neck and shoulders.
As we began to work on the hard parts, I could see the sadness begin to flood in as she struggled to get the phrasing right.
The skin around her eyes softened and the tears started to flow.
We had hit a wall.
As she fought with frustration and worked to relax her body and breath, something remarkable happened.
A voice came through her that had such clarity and commitment that it almost sounded as if it was coming from someone else.
After she finished the song, we stopped and looked at each other in complete silence.
Then we both started to cry, hugged it out, and stood in disbelief about what had just occurred.
It was a great moment.
Here’s the lesson for us all:
We all have a BIGGER VOICE INSIDE waiting to tell the world something amazing and unique, IF we allow ourselves to move through our emotions and connect on a deeper level.
The key is to TRUST and KNOW that it’s going to be okay when we let go, and STOP HOLDING ON to everything all the time.
FRUSTRATION is part of the process so stay in the pocket and keep going.
RELAX into the task at hand.
With some attention, delicacy, support, internal strength and perseverance, we all can achieve what might otherwise seem impossible.