“Mr. Martin Tanner of Dayton, Ohio made his Town Hall debut last night. He came well prepared, but unfortunately his presentation was not up to contemporary professional standards. His voice lacks the range of tonal color necessary to make it consistently interesting. Full-time consideration of another endeavor might be in order.”
Harry Chapin told the story of Mr. Tanner, who was a cleaner; but he also was a baritone, who sang while hanging clothes. Anyone remember that song?
Mr. Tanner’s friends pestered him to try music as a profession. He spent his savings on renting a music hall and gave a concert. Mr. Chapin tells of the result:
“But the critics were concise, it only took four lines, and no one could accuse them of being overkind:” And my opening paragraph is those four lines.
Mr. Tanner went quietly back to his life, but he never sang in public again. He allowed his passion to be covered with a curtain that didn’t apply to it. He never really wanted to sing professionally; it was his life, not his living.
I am not a soloist. I have only ever sung in groups. The smallest number of singers I have ever participated in was two. Until yesterday.
Our music leader asked if I would sing one of our Children’s songs as a prelude to her Sunday School lesson. Stepping way out of my comfort zone, I agreed. I had plenty of time for rehearsal and preparation.
Now, I am not nervous when speaking in public, and I do a fair job of it as long as I prepare well. Singing is a different matter. Regardless of the rehearsal and preparation, the voice is something that is either there or not. For very few is it ever always there. I prepared well, and we had a very good rehearsal. At the time of performance, I was as confident as I was going to be.
I have never considered that I have a great vocal gift. I can carry a tune and I can read music, and I enjoy singing in groups. I have never been asked to perform alone, and I have never sought out the opportunity. So despite my preparation, I was very nervous as I began to sing. It was no help that my throat went dry with the first note. As I progressed, it did get better, and the third and final verse was almost as I rehearsed it.
This was a huge step for me. I don’t particularly care if nobody ever asks me to sing a solo again, I did it. I have never aspired to a music profession, I get so much enjoyment out of being a group performer for my own satisfaction. My voice blends well with others and I have a reasonable range. The victory for me was doing it and surviving it.
Been there? Share.