My Judgement Bomb

My neighbor is a really nice lady. She has always been very talkative from the start and I rather like hearing her talk to me. I was a little concerned on moving out here that I would be a bit lonely, but this neighbor breaks up the monotony of the day when I see her. She has a little girl that is my own daughter's age and they play quite a bit.

This neighbor also runs a beauty pageant. I don't know how that works, but somehow it does. She is all worked up lately because she has this pageant coming up and she has wanted me to sing for it (I really can't because I need accompaniment and I will NOT play guitar for the first time in front of people for a pageant because hey, I am too vain for that and well, very nervous). Then she has been making goodie baskets for the contestants (they are mainly girls) and she wants me to make little samples of soap.

Yesterday I went over to her house to retrieve my daughter, who was there too long for Dear Sir's taste (he had not seen her). I had just ran a handful of miles on the treadmill and I was sweaty, ruddy in the face, and of course, I was lacking any make up or anything good. "Oh Rachel," she said as I walked near her kitchen, "You should enter for the Ms. category because I am sure you will win---" I looked at her like she spit in my face. "Well...you should see some of these ladies that are calling me up wanting to enter...." and she shuddered. She already asked me to be a judge and I declined. I can't judge beauty. I can't be judged either. That is one of my worst nightmares!

I am glad that she thinks I am "passable." Reminds me of Mr. D'Arcy saying that Elizabeth was "tolerable."

That is one reason (besides many others) that I would hate to even try out for American Idol. People always tell me to do that. I think the idea is silly, if they really sat down and thought about it. I just would dread going in front of Simon and singing the "Unchained Melody" or something and he would say, "That was absolutely dreadful." Paula would snort and Randy would say, "That just was not happening."

Now, I am not giving you crazy people out there an opportunity to tell me what I can do to change my vocal ability or even my boring songs; I am a little agitated about that lately. If you want to put me over the edge, just tell me I need to change things up or give up completely. I have had too many things in my past that have been horrible in that regard. Music is something where you are literally opening yourself up---you are vulnerable---someone is seeing the other side of your brain at work and then for someone to come and criticise it for your listening ears is rough. I remember as a girl I sang a song for a friend who was taking voice lessons. My whole life I had been told that I was a mature singer for my age, very good, etc, etc. When I was finished with my song she snickered at me and told me that I jiggled my jaw when I sang like Whitney Houston (which I totally don't)---and that shows that I am an immature singer. She continued to rip me a part. I remember standing there aghast. All the things she had to say to me were so weird and wrong, that I completely blocked them out of my memory. I just remember the experience. She told me at the tail end of her critic party that she was the one who "begged" the choir teacher to give me a second chance at try outs our Freshman year.

This teacher was in a bad mood when I was trying out. She was yelling (I mean YELLING) at everyone and when people were done she shouted "NEXT!" at the top of her voice. She was intimidating. My "friend" went ahead of me and sang "My Country Tis of Thee" as instructed to. She had a soft, flighty sort of voice and could stay on key. The teacher nodded as if she were "passable" and marked something in a booklet at the piano, then screamed, "NEXT!" I am shaking just thinking about this. I went up there and sang the same song and before I could get to the third line, the teacher stopped playing, turned to me as if annoyed to no end and asked me sharply, "Why are you trying to sound like people on the radio?!" Mind you, there were a huge number of people trying out all around me. They were all staring at me and watching. I tried to explain myself. She would not let me. She looked at me wide-eyed and said, "I will give you one more chance. Sing it straight." I sang it. She stopped the piano with a bang, turned her big fat body around and said, "Stop trying to sing like people on the radio!" And then I said, "I am sorry, I can't help it. That is just how I sing."
"NEXT!" she screamed. I ran off, trying not to cry.
Then I heard my name before I could leave the building. I turned around and there was the teacher, calling me back to her hell hole and all the spectators with her. I obeyed. I stood there as she picked me apart in front of everyone. She told me that she did not want to deal with me because I said, "That's the way I sing, I can't help it!" and she was sure to use a whinny, mocking voice while putting her hand on her hip as if to imitate me. I looked around. Everyone was wide-eyed and looking at me. SHE MADE ME SING THE SONG AGAIN. This time she instructed me to sing as plainly as possible (no vibrato?) so I just imitated my friend's voice and sang with no vibrato, no character, no real voice at all. Just plain. I was just putting a voice to keys---to notes.
"Much better," she said and I walked off with a heavy heart.

This is what my "friend" was talking about. She said she went to the teacher and begged her to give me another chance as I was walking out of the building. What a good friend, eh?

I thankfully, moved from one school district to another and tried out for another choir (again) at the new school. I had the complete opposite experience. The man begged me to be in his choir and had nothing but embarrassing compliments. He told me stuff that I just can't repeat on this blog---it was like God knew I needed healing from the bad experience. The man loved my voice, my vibrato, the whole thing, and did not say I was trying to act like people on the radio (whatever that means).

Everyone has bad experiences like this. I have had many others. But then I have had better ones more than bad. Somehow the bad is always dominant. It's just that singing can be so raw. At least for me it is. I can't imagine what it would be like to be judged by people for my looks.


Badoozie said...

thanks for sharing this.....and i agree, i dont want to be judged for anything that i could potentially "lose" if you know what i mean.

Redneck Nerdboy! said...

I agree with both you and Sus. I messed up so many times in childhood, in front of so many people, that I had to leave the town and never look back. Just normal mistakes, only it's embarrassing living around the people I've made the mistakes against.

I look at my childhood of mistakes as my "first life" and this is my second life. Here and now.

EmmaSometimesLikesToSingLikeTheRadioToo said...

Oh, the best advice I could give is to stay true to you and go with your gut. I would be a COMPLETE chicken and not even try to compete..I know how you feel.

You know yourself best and just like Julia Roberts in Pretty Women, The bad stuff is easier to believe" remind yourself how you love to sing and sing it loud.

~Snorting over your 'passability'~ Mr. Darcy needed a boot in the Arsey. (although I loved that scene where he later grovels over his words). Perhaps a neighborly groveling is in order?

Anne said...

My singing is such a personal thing to me. It's who I am and who I've always been. It's the one thing I have that I know I do well. No one can take it away from me.

What a dreadful thing to go through. Another reason to home school.

P.S. I had a bad experience with my chior teacher in high school. Why do teachers like to crush children?

Funky-Redhead said...

Hey...this is such as sensitive suject to me as well. I felt sick reading this post. As a vocalist, and instrumentalist...I have tried to explain the agony of criticism about singing to others like this... If you make a "mistake," while playing an instrument...you can get mad at the instrument, and put it down and walk away...but, if you feel you have not sung to the best of your ability...or others don't appreciate your vocal style...you can only internalize the hurt. You can't put down your instrument, because it is such a part of who you are, not only physically, but mentally and spiritually. ( Sorry , for being so "deep," but YOU STARTED IT! This topic, just hits really close to home with me.