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My Blog

Discovering My Voice

Good morning to everyone.  I am enjoying the day so far.  the weather is what I consider perfect here in Chicago Land area.  Sun is shining brightly.  Temps are in the 70's. It couldn't be more perfect!
Well, today's story is discovering my voice.  Now, this could go in a lot of directions.  I will begin with my singing voice.  It all started back when I was in 3rd grade.  I went to Parochial School in Chicago.  Usually we had nuns as our teachers, but in third grade I had a lady teacher.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  She had us lined up in the room...boys on one size and girls on the other.  I am not quite sure why they did this when we were in elementary school...Most of the time, I think so that the girls and boys didn't fraternize.  Silly when I think about it...because as a girl, it only made you want to be by them even more.  But anyway, in this particular time it made sense to divide up the singing voices.  We were being taught a song for Christmas time called "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen".  Now the teacher needed to distinguish the levels of voices.  She determined who was alto, tenor and baritone with the boys, and then determined which of the girls were sopranos, 2nd sopranos and contralto.  Once she had determined who was who she grouped them together.  She considered me a Soprano and placed me in that group.  Now we had practiced the song for quite a bit.  This was one tenacious music teacher.  The reason she was so tenacious was that we were to perform this at the nearby high school called Weber!  Well, my voice has more than one purpose and chatting with friends while she was busy with the boys was one of them.  To my chagrin, she caught me talking and ousted me in front of the class.  She called my name and told mw that if I had enough time to chitty chat that I must know the song and didn't need to pay attention, and perhaps I would like to come up to the front of the class and sing it for everyone.  Well, this teacher had no idea who she was meddling with...even at the tender age of 8, I feared nothing...so I walked straight up to the front of the room and sang the song.  I wish you could have seen her jaw drop.   The class just sort of smirking with that sort of grin that was thrilled it shut her up.  I knew every word and according to the teacher was amazing.  It turned out because of that little stint...I was made the soloist for the song.  She had to rework the music for the class to sing the background.  We performed at Weber High School just a few blocks away from our school and for the first time, I stood up in front of my very first huge audience.  I had finally found my calling.  
It was no strange thing for me to sing.  I did it daily at home.  Even in the summer, I would open the window in the living room and sit on the front porch and sing along with my Shirley Temple albums.  Any one else have them.  Oh, I wish I still had them.  I remember the white clouds on the blue sky in the center of them.  I was sure I would be the next Shirley Temple.  Well, it didn't quite turn out that way, but I did have my days in the spotlight.
I continued to use my voice in Elementary school, I was in the Choir in Church, which when you went to Parochial school was a daily requirement.  I sang more solo's of Ave Maria than I ever cared to.  I was always the soloist when it came to school productions.   When I was a child, I lived with my mom and grandparents, and when my grandfather Joe was dying of cancer, he was at home and went in for treatments.  He had a favorite green chair in the living room where he sat.  As a child I used to sit on the floor next to him as he and I would chat about school and life and when he would get really tired, you could see his coloring in his face start to drain, he would ask me to sing for him.  I remember him always requesting Ave Maria.  I would place my head next to his knee and as he gently stroked my long blonde hair, I sang to him till he fell asleep.  It still makes me cry to even think of those days.  My grandfather was a big, burly type of man and not many people knew how much he loved the opera, and I was able to give him those bits and pieces.  Ave Maria was a significant song in my family.  It was always their requests for funerals.  In fact, I sang it at a candlelight memorial for her. 
When I graduated, I moved on to a Parochial High school.  There I took choral, semi private voice lessons and private voice lessons as well.  This was the only concession to the art that my mother would allow.  I wanted so desperately to take drama and art...but my to my mother, that was a  no no. I was to take business and that was it.  I managed to convince her to let me at least do some outside activities which meant auditioning for plays.  I was able to acquire the leads in all the plays I auditioned for.  In high school plays were always musicals.  I was in heaven.  I not only got to sing, but now I got to act as well. It caused quite a stir in my high school when I got the lead to the school play, becase it was a first that someone who didn't take drama got a lead.  Needless to say, I was not the favorite of co-students.   I was going to move my way up the ladder.  I had always wished that my mother could have seen me in my element, unfortunately her jobs kept her from being able to do that.  I put on my happy face, so as not to let anyone know how disappointed I was after all those performances. 
I went on to becoming an actress..and then got engaged to a man who said I needed to choose one or the other.  So, just when I was going to join the Union, I decided to quit the theater to marry....unfortunately the engagement didn't last, my life moved on and I never went back.  I sang my heart out to my babies, and while I cleaned the house and when I went to church...although that always made every one in the church uncomfortable....because I always sang me heart out.  I think it made them feel like they were supposed to do the same!  I then sang to my grandchildren, one of my favorite joys.  I even wrote a song for the first granddaughter that drove everyone crazy because I sang it to her all the time. I sang it so much that the tune continued to ring through everyone's head long after I was done singing.  I remember singing to a couple of children who were disabled as babies...I used to put their little hands to my throat as I sang to allow them to feel the vibrations.  Years later, when I sang to them, they immediately placed their little hands at my throat.  They remembered! 
Well the years floated by and finally I became a storyteller.  I was now able to include singing into some of the programs.  Acting was second nature as was being on stage.  I had finally found my home.  I loved to look into the eyes of those that I am able to sing to.  I know that I have touched their hearts in some way.  I remember asking God what it is I am supposed to do with this voice He gave me.  I didn't want to squander it away by not using it.  I guess God's plans aren't always what we think they should be.   God manages to always keep me guessing.  And I guess for now...I am using my voice in a variety of ways. I am able to use my voice in storytelling and in singing as well.  I managed to get the best of both worlds. 
So thanks to that 3rd grade teacher.  I bet she never knew how that single moment changed my life. 

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