I’ve Got to Set Myself Free

I’m staying at my dad’s place while the exterminators attempt to clear my apartment of its bed bugs. They say my roommate and I should be able to move back in by Saturday afternoon at the latest. We had to vacate Tuesday night and the exterminators were giving us trouble about when they wanted to come in (they tried to wait until Thursday at 9am!), but my roommate is awesome and totally yelled at them until they agreed to be there by 6pm Wednesday. Really, how long did they expect us to evacuate? Have some consideration, sheesh.

My dad agreed to drive me to and from work so I wouldn’t have to take most of the week off, for which I am very grateful. Of course, he lives an hour away, which means I have to get up at 5:30 and we have to leave by 7 in order to avoid traffic into town, but it’s tolerable. I mean, he doesn’t have Internet at his house anyway, so I’ve been trying to spend as much time as I can at the library. I asked him not to pick me up until 9pm tonight because it’s going to be the weekend after work and damn it, I want to go online.

It’s a really good thing his work hours are flexible, or I would probably have to get to work at 7 every day. Although I used to have to do it most days in high school, waking up at 4am is so not my thing.

I’ve been taking voice lessons once a week for the past year, but a couple weeks ago I decided I wanted to “take a break”–indefinitely. It’s not worth the money to me anymore.

I had my last lesson yesterday and I’m performing in the upcoming recital on 3 June, then I’m out. I’m singing Time For Me to Fly by REO Speedwagon for the recital and I feel like I shouldn’t have chosen it because it reminds me of my parents’ divorce (my parents got divorced about a year and a half ago and their relationship has been bad my whole life). My teacher was always telling me to put more emotion into the song and not just sing the lyrics/melody. “Put some soul into it”, she would say. “Think about where you can add your own inflection.”

Yesterday, each run-through of the song was boring and dimensionless, I could tell. She was always telling me to “think about your story” and how certain thoughts and events match to the lyrics of the song. I guess I was scared of unleashing the necessary feelings. Like some kind of monster, eh? (Some Kind of Monster… cool name for a band. Also a Metallica documentary, apparently, as Google just told me.)

I don’t know why, maybe because I wanted to have at least one good run-through before Sunday’s performance, but during the song’s introduction during our final run-through at yesterday’s lesson, I closed my eyes, breathed deeply, and made myself think about my parents’ divorce. It wasn’t hard to recall the memories, the pain, everything (my mom not being happy that I’m staying with my dad this week probably helped…). I almost cried during that performance. It was honestly hard for me to fight back tears. And then, in the back of my mind: “This had better be emotional enough. If it’s not, then that’s it, I’m not cut out to be a singer.”

Well, songs don’t last forever, and the merciful end finally came. My teacher said it was “the best yet”. She seemed really impressed. I can’t believe I have to do that all over again on Sunday. I’m scared I will actually start crying. I have even more respect now for artists who go up on stage every night and sing about things like this. Like Avenged Sevenfold singing about their dead best friend.

3 thoughts on “I’ve Got to Set Myself Free

  1. It looks like the bed bugs will disappear soon! Yay!

    As a classical musician, I’d say that learning to put your soul into your music is quite difficult the first time and gets exponentially easier afterwards. A teacher can guide you only so much at first, unfortunately. But once you get it, it is unnatural to not drop a piece of your own soul into the music, especially since your soul can manifest itself in ways that can be written down on paper, like with specific dynamics and inflections.

    When I was ten years old, my piano teacher coached me on phrasing and musicality by writing all of them explicitly on the music in her own interpretation. She then encouraged me to experiment with them and change them if I feel like it, but only while keeping to the conventions of the era that the music was written in. (I made Mozart sound like Chopin once, and that’s really not okay.) And then, I suddenly understood character and phrasing. For me, it is like storytelling, and the music expresses the sunshine and thunder in the background.

    1. And I forgot to mention – if you cry at the performance, it’s okay. Your tears will be both tears of sorrow and tears of joy. If anyone asks, you are happy and elated that you got through the performance. ;D

  2. Today, I went to the beach front with my kids. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She put the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is totally off topic but I had to tell someone!

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