There’s nothing like starting the day with vocal exercises while you sweep and mop the floor, then when your voice is warm, singing along with one of the greats, holding nothing back. Today’s choice was Ella Fitzgerald, and I picked 3 songs, sang them over and over and over. A Tisket A Tasket, Lullaby of Birdland, and Imagine my Frustration.
The first two are relatively easy, but the last one is a real challenge. You should listen to it if you can. It’s hilarious: Ella almost shrieks it – as you would if you were incredibly frustrated and pissed off – but of course her “shrieking” is out of this world.
“Went down to the dance / Sat down by the wall / Invited to dance By no-one at all… / The company…was charming and gay / But nobody once looked over my way / And then in my ear / A voice said to me / Wallflower my dear, how come you can’t see / They couldn’t care less about your dress / As you might guess you’re in excess
Imagine my frustration with no invitation to dance…”
She doesn’t sing it like a wallflower, that’s for sure. I love it, it’s a great song for letting rip, and one day I’m going to sing it on stage behind a mic, and a band backing me, having a ball. Right now I sound like a terrorized cat! It’s fine, I just have to get my voice around it. Slowly does it. Practise does it, actually.
Something’s changed. Before, when I couldn’t get my voice around something, I’d get so crucifyingly critical of myself that I’d kind of collapse inside, and I’d lose my singing power, as if somebody pulled the plug out the wall. It was the most horrible sensation. It’s not happening now. Even though my ear is more finely tuned, so I’m more aware of how caterwauling those high notes sound. Whooeee!
Another song I’m having fun with, although I’ve never heard anybody sing it so I’m just doing it my way, is an old blues song, Moanin. Much easier to sing, and so full of soul. I imagine it comes from the days of slavery in America’s Deep South.
I’ve been thinking about musical success – excluding classical music – a lot lately. I don’t think talent is what creates success. It doesn’t ensure it, that’s definitely so. I taught singing to adults who were trying to find their voice for a while, and I had the most remarkable pupil. His vocal ability was a cross between Mariah Carey and Stevie Wonder. Out of this world. He came with a three octave range and was working on expanding it.
But he had no confidence in himself, and no belief that if he went for it he’d succeed. He composed also – songs poured out of him. His confidence and vocal control improved massively, but I didn’t have the tools to take him any further. I told him that but he felt safe with me, so maybe that’s what he needed most of all. Then he left to get a job in the US in the hotel industry.
It broke my heart to see that nobody could turn things around for him unless he made the choice. It’ll never be too late for him, and I hope he finds what he needs to help him dismantle his belief that he can’t be successful, someone who can take him to the next level.
Right. Time to do some work. Piano’s taking a bit of a back seat at the moment. I’m on the 4th draft of my script, though. There are not enough hours left in my life, I’m sure of it. Blast.
Never mind. Life I love you anyway.