When I was growing up I heard my mother singing around the house and as she worked and she taught her children many songs that way and a love for singing. All four of us love to sing and two of us have been paid to sing. When she was young, she’d write the words to songs she liked in a notebook as there was no money for sheet music. Her younger brother and sisters were able to get some sheet music and even one brother, Jerome, had a one man band. I’ll talk more about him another time. Her mother played the organ and she had a professional cowboy singer cousin. But she said she couldn’t sing. However, last year shortly before she died at age 96, she would sing the songs she remembered to the nurses and all who visited her home. Once I couldn’t remember the third or fourth line of a 1940s song so I asked her. “Get me started” she said and after I sang the first line she continued the song to the end for me thus helping me to learn the words. There were times she’d sing me songs I’d never heard before that she remembered from her childhood.
Now my father used to whistle and sing while he worked and while he milked the cows. The were very calm and gentle listening to his voice. That didn’t work for me.
And the town I grew up in was a very musical bunch of people back to Swiss immigrant days when their was the Staheli Brass Band. We sang in school, the principle teaching us songs, and each grade teacher too, but he said, ”What one lacks in quality, they can compensate for with gusto and volume.” Many in my town played different instruments of sang. And in church, every age group would sing in groups or choirs. Several young men even produced a LP record.
As a boy in the age group I was in , I sang soprano of course then. Once we sang “My Mother’s Prayer”. My voice was golden and all around me said so. Later after my voice changed, my first solo was “Brother Can You Spare a Dime.” Then I went to high school and in English, the 10th, 11th, and 12th grades were combined and studied a different aspect of English in a different room each quarter. In my 11th grade, the last quarter was about poetry and verse, lyric poems and the like. When we came to the section on writing ballads, the group I was assigned to wrote our ballad and had to sing it. The guy who knew how to play the guitar was a senior and he suggested we sing it to the music of the Beetles song “Yellow Submarine”. I’d never heard the song before, even though I worked at a radio station, so I didn’t sing with the group to well and with the pitch being so much higher than my bass voice, I sounded bad. One of the guys listening said, “Beacham, you can’t sing.”
So when I enrolled at the junior college (Dixie) a year later, I signed up for voice lessons from one of the teachers, a lady named Roene DiFoire. She taught music theory and a fun class called Program Bureau. The Program Bureau went to schools and civic events to do programs and to high schools in several states as a recruiting tool for interesting future students in Dixie. Mrs.D., as she was affectionately called, found talent and cultivated it among all the students she came in contact with. She loved the element of surprise and had me do my first solo for the group at a performance at a local elementary school. She had me sing “Asleep in the Deep”. It is a deep bass song that her father used to sing. Another one was the “Big Bass Viol”. When I had my first big sing, it was for the “Utah State Fireman’s Association” convention at the Dixie High School Auditorium before a packed crowd. I was an instant hit. You know, I don’t know if that boy from high school who’d said I couldn’t sing, ever heard me or not. But I guess that doesn’t matter much. I just opened an email from someone wanting to buy one of my singing cds. Mrs. D. died a few years back and now there is a center for the arts called the DiFiore Center named in her honor.
Then I sang in a men’s chorus for 16 years after my wife died. One of the members, though now dead too, always said, “It hard to be sad when you are singing.”
Even Neil Diamond’s “Song Sung Blue” expresses this thought.
The article talks about Karaoke and it’s value to cultivating a singing voice. Amen. That’s right. I’ve done online Karaoke for 6 or so years and have seen improvement in me and many others because its singing in a safe environment. And it’s fun.
I bought a singing course once called “Anyone Can Sing”. i haven’t looked at the book in years but may incorporate in in a course i might do someday.
A friend who used to sing Opera and with the Mormon Tabernacle Chior, said I perhaps ought to take more voice lessons. I can’t afford to. But I don’t think one really needs those to learn to sing well. More on that at a later date.
Well, my arms are tired from typing so I’m done for tonight. I’ll catch you another day.
(I was commenting on an article about voice instruction when I told my story here. To read the article go to: http://singingasong.net/?p=47
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