Train for E4, Belt out F4

Just for the Summer Singers
Just for the Summer Singers, just before a performance
August 2010

Some of you out there may know I sing with a chamber chorus, Just Voices. But during the summer we take a break, and the open-enrollment Just for the Summer Singers begins rehearsals, with a less challenging repertoire.

This upcoming concert will include the spiritual Too Late, Sinnuh. The song begins with a male soloist, singing “Too late, sinnuh!” with the notes: D4, D4, F4. (For your reference, in musical notation, Middle C is C4. Hmm… Nice coincidence!) For a bass like myself, these are very high notes.

Flashback: When I was a student at Georgia State, I wasn’t a music major, but I participated in the University Singers because I consider choral singing to be my creative outlet of choice. Back then I had not achieved my potential as a choral singer… not until a friend of mine in the chorus, Charles Hart, took me aside and helped me out. It just so happened at the time he was taking a vocal pedagogy class, and I was a very happy volunteer guinea pig for him.

Ever since I first began singing in high school I always had trouble once the music required me to sing notes above Middle C. C4 was okay, D4 was iffy, and E4 felt and sounded strained, at best. And then Charles came along and told me how to stand, how to prepare my voice, how to use my body to release a better sound. And before I knew it, I could belt out a fantastic E4.

Flash Foward: This past Tuesday’s rehearsal was time to audition for the solo. But remember I had previously trained to sing the E4. F4 is a half-step higher. That half-step makes a big difference once I’m up in that register. I raised my hand to audition anyway, not really sure what would come out. And what came out in my audition was nothing short of amazing. At least, it sure felt that way. I could feel myself glowing by the time I was done.

It turns out Too Late, Sinnuh has two solo parts, and I got the other solo part. But I still walked out of rehearsal that night feeling great for having stretched myself that extra half-step, for taking those lessons from years ago and applying them to stretch myself that much further.

When was the last time you stretched yourself a little further, whether artistically or in your business practice? You can train for that moment for years. But when the moment comes, that moment is a further stretch than you trained for or imagined. And then you come out of it, glowing.

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