I’ve always found great joy in singing, and was voted “most likely to spontaneously burst into song” in high school.
From grade school through college, I sang in every choir available, always as an alto. My voice was so low, in a pinch, I would help out the tenors. Each time I had a new director, I would announce, “I’m an alto, I don’t sing above a third space C. I’m solid with a tight harmony, so no one argued.
I would have loved to sing higher, but accepted the range I was given. Shortly after college graduation, my friends Jeff and Catherine asked me to sing at their wedding. The music was tricky, so I used my first real paycheck to hire a voice teacher from Peabody to help me prepare. I approached my voice teacher, Laura, as I had every music teacher since Ms. Elsie, my church junior choir director. “I’m an alto…” Laura’s first question was, “how do you know?”
I just laughed, “oh you’ll see…but I’m okay with it… I’m just here to get some help with these complicated runs.”
“Lets not make any assumptions.”
I then belted out my best alto bravado, stopped at C and smiled. “See?”
“Your pushing too hard. You want it too much. Lighten up, back off and sing it like Julia Child.”
Backing off felt scary, I was attached to my “big voice.”
Within 2 weeks, my range had expanded North a full octave. I’ve sung first soprano for the past 2 decades. Broader range led to a breadth of expanded opportunities.
Pushing too hard created false limits. There were new songs to be sung, but I couldn’t hear them.
When we push to perfect who we are, we lose sight of the talents waiting backstage ready to stretch our range.