Last week my friend asked me why I didn’t write more about singing on this blog. I told her I didn’t think anyone would be interested, and I wasn’t sure what I’d even say. She suggested I write about what singing means to me. She is one of my blog muses and I tend to listen to them, so I agreed, and I’ve spent the last week thinking about it.
But as it turns out, music and singing and musical theater all mean so much to me, it’s hard to write a short essay on the topic. I devoted over fifteen years of my life to focusing primarily on music. It wouldn’t be accurate to say it was everything to me during that period, but it was a huge part of what I cared about, how I spent my time, and ultimately, who I was. I will always be a musician.
Summing that up in a snappy list doesn’t feel right. So instead I’ll tell you a story.
It was the autumn of my freshman year of high school. I was fourteen. I didn’t like high school so much. Most of my classes were boring. The social scene was boring. I was still very shy and kept myself somewhat isolated.
My mom saw an ad in the paper for a local production of the musical Peter Pan, and she encouraged me to join. It was a new company in town, and they didn’t require auditions. At first I dismissed the idea, but at the last minute I changed my mind, and my mom and I hopped into the car to attend the informational meeting.
That night changed my life.
Fast forward several months to March of the next year, when the show was opening. We were performing in the big Civic Center auditorium. Through hard work and persistence, I had won two performances, including the gala opening, as Wendy, in spite of originally being completely overlooked for the part. I got to FLY. I got to arrive at the gala opening performance in a LIMOUSINE. I was a part of something bigger than myself.
A local news station came down during a dress rehearsal to do a segment on the show, and they asked to interview me. They chose my clip to end their segment, when I said, “It’s like a dream come true.” It was cheesy but also the truth. Musical theater gave me a dream.
To this day, I have this photo on the top of my piano: me at age 14, wearing a blue nightdress and a blue hair ribbon, holding hands with a little boy in footie pajamas (Michael) and an older boy in a nightshirt (John). All three of us are flying. I kept this photo displayed throughout my years of teaching because I never wanted to lose sight of how I’d gotten started and how much of a difference singing and musical theater had made, and continued to make, in my life.
I have learned so much about myself through singing. And I have gained an incalculable amount of joy, both from singing myself and from sharing that gift with others.
When I sing, the good parts of the world draw closer, even as the bad parts of the world fall away.