Except one. I can’t get the F out.
When I started with Carey, I had a range between my chest voice and my head voice where the notes all sounded the same, kind of like a dolphin with laryngitis. This was all part of the, hopefully temporary, damage done, during my surgery last Fall. At first, I was just delighted to know I’d be able to speak. Then more delighted to know my speaking voice would strengthen. But as I tried to sing, I realized my singing voice was in trouble. I was worried I would not recover it. Over the past couple of months, we’ve made amazing progress. The dolphin visits less often and when I remember to focus on my breath and use some of the tricks Carey has taught me, I can hear the songs getting stronger and stronger.
But I still can’t get the F out.
It’s my sticking point. Last week we did a little experiment. Carey tried playing runs of notes, up and down, that I would la la la along to. She started and ended in a variety of different places. We’re doing our lessons over Zoom so I can’t see the keyboard – even if I could I’m not a master note reader. Regardless, in every single run I had trouble on one note. I can not get the F out.
Later in the lesson, I was singing one of my practice songs for Carey. At the end, she asked what was different in the last half of the song. I knew right away what had been different. I knew in the second half of the song, I was past what was the hard part of the song for me. As soon as I didn’t have to worry about the F anymore, I was free to relax as I sang. What a difference it made.
I’ve been thinking about the F note this week. Each of us has something comparable to the F in their life. It’s usually a little thing that prevents us from doing some things we love. It might be a perceived weakness, or a fear. It might be an experience we had long ago that we never want to repeat, so we avoid every scenario that might place us in a similar situation. It could be we don’t feel comfortable wearing the clothing we think we need for the occasion. It might be we don’t know the words to say. We avoid all sorts of wonderful things so that we can avoid the possibility of getting hurt, or being embarrassed, or feeling afraid.
In the big picture of life, whether or not I get the F out is insignificant. It won’t matter to most people whether I sing or not. But in my little world of song, and in my little life, it does matter. It matters because singing makes my life better. And it matters because it turns out the F note is pretty popular. She shows up everywhere. If I try to avoid her, or to choose only music in which she does not show up, I’ll severely limit my joy. I’ll have to be ‘on guard’, ever watchful, to prevent myself from embarrassing myself. My life will be smaller than it need be.
I also want to figure this out because I understand this is representative of other places in my life I’ve lived less fully than I want. I was afraid to join a choir for my entire adult life, in years when I could easily get the F out, for fear I was not good enough. What moments of joy I must have missed. And what moments I am missing by allowing my world to be smaller than it need be.
So, I want to conquer this weakness, this fear. I know I can. It will take time, and Carey’s knowledge, and her willingness to try new techniques with me. It will take my courage. I am choosing to face this F note head on. I will welcome her to my music. I will learn tricks to navigate around her. I will soon learn to smooth the pathways allowing her to shine.
We all have F notes, places in our lives where we live small. They do not serve us well. Our lives are so much richer when we live them singing all the notes in the music.
My inquiry for you this week is, ‘What will help me get the F out?’
Elizabeth is a certified professional Leadership Coach, and the owner of Critchley Coaching. She is the founder and president of the Canadian charity, RDL Building Hope Society. She works with corporations, non-profits and the public sector, providing leadership coaching. She creates and facilitates custom workshops for all sizes of groups. She has particular expertise in facilitating Strategic Plans for organizations. Contact Elizabeth to learn how to get the F out.