Thursday, November 21, 2013

Year Three, Week Thirty-five - Music....

Ever since I can remember, I've sung.  Sunday School, church choir, school choir, shower, anywhere.  Anywhere but a stage, alone.

It wasn't until I was in High School that I had a teacher who was willing to let me take a chance on a difficult solo for the county competition.  I picked "Oh Thou That Tellest."  It's an incredibly difficult alto solo from The Messiah.  It requires a big voice with a lot of support and the ability to breathe in while singing out. 

I sucked.  Really, really sucked.  Too quiet.  Too breathy.  Too shy.

My long-suffering mentor, facing a deadline for solo competition, gave me a deadline.  Nail it in one more week, or switch to something less challenging. 

Converting from science geek to musical superstar is more than a small challenge.  But I'd read about subliminal messages, operant conditioning, and the work the subconscious does while the rest of the brain is asleep.

I bought an album of The Messiah.  And I set my little record player up so that "Oh Thou That Tellest" played over and over and over.  I played it from the time I got home from school until I left again the next day.  All day, all night, all weekend.  I didn't sing.  I listened.  Timing.  Breath control.  Volume.  Emotion.

At my 'last chance' rehearsal, Mr. A began to play.  And I opened my mouth and SANG.  I scared the crap out of him.  When he landed back on the piano bench and rubbed out the whiplash, he said, "Where the HECK have you been hiding THAT???"

I took that song to competition and won. 

I found an entirely new side of myself.  A crack in the shell of the shy bookworm, one that allowed me to eventually become a different person - somebody who can walk into a room that holds a total stranger and get that person to relax and tell me things no one else ever hears.

Many people think that the arts and the sciences are separate; that people are either one thing or the other.  I think that they cannot exist without each other.  Scientists are, by definition, intrigued by mysteries.  The more we find, the more we need to search. 

Music is just the audible expression of that need.



  1. I just love this! Music has a way of going so deep into your soul that you are transformed and never the same again. By making the decision to work hard you kept your eye on the prize and, most of all, stunned yourself! What a testament to the power of music!

  2. It is a testament to the faith and patience of the music teachers as well. If not for that teacher I wouldn't have had the courage to try. And, oddly, I don't recall being surprised at myself- I think in my heart I knew what I was holding back.