Over break I accomplished a personal goal. I sung, by myself, in front of a large audience. I’ve been taking private voice lessons at university. Right from the beginning of the semester my professor told me that I have a wonderful voice. I never took it to heart because I thought she said that to all of her students. Apparently I was wrong.
Over time, with more lessons, I started to notice my voice getting much better. I can hold out notes longer, without running out of breath, and my range has become wider and more concrete. Even my friends in church choir noticed a difference. I didn’t tell them at first because I wanted to see if they’d notice, and they did.
So, my professor convinced me to do the end of semester recital. The only setback I faced was performance anxiety. The recital was initially scheduled for the first week of December 2016. That same week I had a project and two exams! The pressure of wether or not to disappoint my voice professor, and my parents on top of studying late hours, lead to me having my first ever panic attack. I was so scared. I thought I was losing myself mentally. So I messaged my professor and told her I couldn’t do the recital. During my next practice with her she tried to calm me down but when she kept bringing up the recital I broke down in front of her and began bawling eyes my out. She could see how my mentality was eating me alive, so she told me to sleep on my decision and contact her the next day.
Not an hour later after my lesson ended, my professor sends out an email to all of her non-music majors. She announced, “due to unforeseen circumstances” that the recital would be postponed to a later date. Immediately the knot in much stomach disappeared and I was about to pull myself together and finish out my stressful week strong-willed.
The time until the recital was spent practicing and building my confidence. Yes, I decided to take part in the recital beacuse I knew if I didn’t then I would regret it. But I had to tackle my performance anxiety head on. I had, and still have a ton of support from family and especially my friends. I am passionate about everything I do, and it really upsets me when I can’t give my best effort towards something. I wasn’t going to let my performance anxiety get in my way of showing everyone the progress I’ve made with singing.
The night of the recital, I got dressed and arrived half an hour early with my family. I had told all of my friends to come. I didn’t think they would all show up but they did!! In fact the audience was primarily made up of people whom I invited. My voice professor noticed this and when she made her introductory statement she acknowledged all of my family and friends as my “fan club”. I am still moved by how many people showed up to support me, my family, friends from university, my church choir, high school friends, and even my childhood piano teacher! All the people I hold so dearly where there, and I couldn’t have faced my fears without them all by my side.
Whilst waiting backstage I was shaking in my seat. I couldn’t sit still. Just like anything you present, you can’t truly enjoy other performances until you’ve done yours. It came to be my turn, I took a deep breath, gave my sheet music to the pianist and walked out onto the stage. The rest of my performance was a blur. It went my so fast, but what surprised me the most was that I wasn’t scared. All I could hear was the pianist playing next to me. I sang and looked out the window and imagined my voice traveling out through the building and spilling into the streets. Then it was over. I finished my songs, bowed and realization hit me, I did it. I sang in front of pretty much most of the people I know and I didn’t mess up! I walked off stage and immediately was washed over with complements and praises. Everyone was shocked by my voice! They didn’t know I had it trapped in me all this time. Even I didn’t know! I never realized!
My voice professor, who is an older lady with years and years of experience came up to me and gave me a hug. She NEVER does that. She’s not a very lovey dovey person. She told me how proud she is of me and how much I’ve grown, musically, the past semester.
Since then I have preformed another piece. This time my church choir accompanied me. I sang Talj Talj by Fairouz, a Lebanese song about winter time. My performance was amazing! Definitely another milestone in my life. I’ve been receiving complements ever since. My voice professor always tells me that our voice is a gift that God gives us that we shouldn’t hide because that’s not making the most of our talents. If people don’t sing then music written to be sung just sits in books on shelves collecting dust. They only find life through people who sing it to life for people to hear.
A major lesson I’ve learned this past month is something straight from the movie Sing, “Don’t let fear stop you from doing the things you love”. Always remember this. Whatever you face, face it head on. Don’t regret and stay optimistic because things happen for a reason…
How was your end to 2016? Have you faced anything similar? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!