Since I have a low speaking voice which tends toward gruffness, people often assume that I am an alto or mezzo. Like a lot of girls who are able to sing harmonies, I was placed in the alto section of all my school choirs and stayed there quite happily throughout my childhood. Altos had all the cool parts anyway.
After I started studying voice seriously, my teachers began to suspect that I might be a soprano. I didn’t really believe them, but I trusted them and thought I would give it a shot. There was only one problem: I couldn’t sing high.
In the middle of my undergraduate studies I still couldn’t sing above the staff, which wouldn’t make me very marketable in any voice part, never mind as a soprano. But my teachers and coaches all heard things in my voice that convinced them I was destined for a higher tessitura. So I embarked on a journey of discovering my high notes. I wore hernia belts to regulate my breath. I sang laying down on the floor. I did sirens and spoke in a Miss Piggy voice and I cried a lot in the practice room.
I don’t know when it happened, but I got high notes and higher notes. Because I had to work for them, those are the strongest notes in my voice. I could roll out of bed and sing a high C. Now it’s the rest of my voice that gives me fits.
Focus and diligence made me good at something I thought I could never master. What are the other parts of my life that need such attention? Taking care of myself. Being present to people rather than letting exhaustion and preoccupation distract me. Exercising patience and giving the benefit of the doubt.
Here’s the thing about high notes: when I finally started discovering them I learned that they are what I’m made for. Perhaps it would be so with patience’ self-care, and intention in relationship. I know that I am made for love. If I worked at those practices of love that challenge me, would I learn that they too were part of my destiny?
What are the “high notes” you need to practice to be the person you are meant to be?
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