Age or Wisdom When It Comes to Singing

Liz Chirico

My voice recital is in 10 days. I’ll be performing “Sebben Crudele” and “Someone Like You” (no, not Adele’s version. The one from Jekyll & Hyde). I perform fairly regularly but usually as a character in a musical or I’m one of a bunch of dancing girls. This is the first time in 4 years I’ll be singing as me. I’m not sure if it’s the break I took, the wisdom that comes with age or the crap-ton of personal stuff happening currently keeping the anxieties about my upcoming recital at bay, but all I know is if you told me my recital was changed and taking place tonight, I’d be OK with that. (Whether my voice teacher would is a different story. J)

I love singing and performing but I can’t emphasize how strongly I dislike performing as me. The butterflies are full out giant bats moving around wreaking havoc on my insides. Even after a full warm-up, it’s like an anaconda has wrapped itself around my throat limiting my oxygen supply which is super helpful when trying to sing. I cantored occasionally at a local church and had to stop because the nerves were so bad, I knew I wasn’t performing my best and dreaded going. At my last voice recital, things became so bad, I have no words. Literally. I opened my mouth during a section of my aria and nothing came out. Luckily I had the presence of mind to give it a few bars and the words eventually found their way back but still. A piece I’d spent months practicing completely ruined in a matter of seconds.

Right about now you’re probably wondering, “Why in God’s name is she putting herself (or the audience) through another recital?” And the answer is, “because it’s not mandatory that I sing.” That’s right. Performing in my studio’s voice recital is optional. But I need to do it. I need to redeem myself from 4 years ago but more importantly I need the challenge, I need to step outside my comfort zone.

This time around things are different. I’m ready and wanting to step out of my comfort zone. I stopped voice lessons for a few years although I continued to perform in musicals. Performing in those musicals kept my voice in tune. Music is a foreign language and just like with any other language if you don’t use it, you lose it. I haven’t spoken French in years and I’m pretty sure I couldn’t make myself understood if I should decide to head to the French Riviera this summer. Continuing with shows, reading music, and singing harmonies kept my musical knowledge sharp. This is important. 

Those few years took me from a 31 year old in a bit of a career flux and not quite yet settled to a 35 year old with a solid career and settled. The feeling of being settled, of knowing there’s someone at home who thinks I could sing the phone book beautifully, makes a difference. And it doesn’t have to be a romantic relationship either. Find your people, your supportive village and I guarantee you that will help your sound.

This time around too I know the recital isn’t the be all, end all to my musical career. It’s important to be sure. That’s why I agonized over my vocal selections and began working on the pieces in February. Maybe because I’m dealing with some personal issues that help put other pieces of my life in perspective. Maybe because I’ve already forgotten words in a recital setting but I know IF I should do so again, I’ll survive. Maybe because I have my dance recital 6 days after my voice recital and my brain is split between dance steps and “is this the time I crescendo, or is that the next verse?” either way I’m walking into my recital next week feeling more calm than I have in years. I’ll take it.