Some of you know that I’ve been having voice lessons… for about six months now.
I’ve always wanted to learn to sing, but it’s difficult to summon up the courage to try a new hobby. I mean, the courage not just to try it, but to sustain that courage long enough, and keep practising long enough, to feel really good at it. Good enough to really enjoy it, you know?
Well courage is neither here nor there, now.
Fortunately or unfortunately, I’ve been forced into voice lessons by a problem with my vocal cords. It’s not so much singing lessons as “voice rehab”… because although my singing is alright, speaking is a struggle.
I don’t know how it began – maybe stress, maybe a physical issue that cleared up and left bad habits behind; all I know is that I am physically fine – the doctors can find nothing wrong – and yet right now, my speaking voice is a croaky, whispery mess.
What does this have to do with sewing? Stay with me.
Each week Mark has me run through various exercises. He asks me to sing “go-go-go” because the letter “g” is a hard consonant that exercises the cords and brings them together properly. Then he might have me sing “nay-nay-nay” or “mum-mum-mum” or “fooooooooo”, all sounds that strengthen or stretch different parts of my voice.
The part I really love right now is when I sing “one-two-three-two-one” up and down a scale, then “one-two-three-two-one” all on one note, then I SAY those words, and somehow, goodness, THERE’s my voice! Where have you been?
My voice knows what to do when I sing, so we’re trying to map the way that I sing onto the way that I speak. We’re trying to show my voice what to do to bring its function back, much like you might undergo physiotherapy on an injured arm or leg.
Finally, we’ll try a song – we began with snippets, a line or two, and now I can just about make it all the way through “Only You” by Yazoo without collapsing like a marathon runner in training.
There’s a common thread that runs through all my lessons. A running joke has developed, when Mark tells me to give it “more attack”, or try a little louder. “Lean into it,” he’ll say. “Trust it.” And strange as it seems, the more loudly and confidently I launch into the line of a song, the better it comes out. “See?” Mark says for the umpteenth time, “You’re more capable than you think you are.”
One of my favourite things about learning a new skill, whether it be sewing or crochet or singing or Mongolian cookery, is that within that seemingly random skill that you might just be learning for fun, there’s always a wider lesson.
You’re more capable than you think you are.
What if we embodied this advice in the rest of our lives? What if I leaned into my business, or my relationships, or my biggest, fondest dreams?
And what if you took that to heart in your sewing? What if you selected fabrics and projects slightly outside your current capabilities? What if you launched into it with more attack, because you know that you’re more capable than you think you are?