Singing lessons

There is one thing
they don’t tell you
about singing lessons.

And the one thing is that
it’s more
than just
singing lessons…

It’s soul work.

It’s digging deep into your roots
to explore your depths
and expose your truths.

And every lesson is a different story …

One day it could be that
hands are shaking,
heart pounding,
desperately aching
kind of love story
between you and music

and the next day
reads as
a serene fantasy:

a garden
blissfully blooming —
breathing as one
with the spirit of music.

But never is it ending.

You have to keep working.

Keep showing up.

Tending the garden that is
wild
and most days
messy,

but always
promising.

Always yielding
discovery,
beauty,
music,
love.


Singing is an incredibly vulnerable activity, requiring the full commitment of your mind, body and soul. The ultimate goal is to find harmony within these (at least for long enough to get through the song you’re singing). You have to cultivate a compassionate space within yourself. Some days it is much harder to get to this space because of all the other stuff you may be experiencing in your life that is cluttering your mind, creating unnecessary tension in your body, and causing negative self-talk that is crushing your soul.

I have been a student of singing for eighteen years and have studied with over a dozen different voice teachers, each with their own skill sets and methods of teaching. As a student I find some lessons to be much more of a struggle than others, and it usually comes down to my mindset and where I am emotionally going into the lesson. In college many of my voice lessons became therapy sessions, as I was regularly in turmoil over my future or feeling completely overwhelmed with schoolwork, social obligations and upcoming performances. Will I be good enough to sing my role in the opera? Will I be good enough to even make it through this day? It was an inner battle I was forced to fight with my anxiety rising in my throat, trying to relax my uptight shoulders and clenched jaw; attempting to also put aside the flash cards in my head for my biology test tomorrow, the seating chart for the wedding I was planning, and the other ten new pieces of music I was learning for the choir tour next week. All these stressors were coming out in my voice while trying to focus on the task at hand: my breath, my technique, my diction, my delivery of the Bellini piece I was currently singing. Many lessons ended in much-needed tears, as it had forced me to really confront all that I was dealing with, realize I could not carry all that weight and I needed to just surrender to the love of music.

I have been a teacher of singing for four years and have found the job to be incredibly rewarding because I get to essentially help guide my students to this more compassionate space for themselves. It is a challenging process because every student is different, some with many more layers to get through than others. My goal is to create a welcoming and loving environment where students can learn to make big mistakes and sing silly voice warm-ups freely, learning to accept themselves at their very raw core. Some beginning adult students will not make it through many lessons because the peeling back of these layers they have built up through the years can be unbearably uncomfortable, stirring up too much, and that is completely fine. Those students might get more enjoyment out of learning a different skill that is less immediately demanding on the vulnerability of the soul, such as singing in a choir. For others, the love of music or their sheer determination to thrive as a solo singer will conquer self doubt and they will learn to enjoy the turbulence and nakedness of using their voice in new ways in front of others.

If you are interested and want more information about voice lessons, take a look at my lesson page or feel free to contact me! I just started teaching online lessons via Skype and Zoom. I will be accepting new students starting July 1st. 😊

Writing and photography by: Katy Claire Funke

Singing Poems

Bloom

A flower is
as simple as that
not for me
not for you

A flower blooms
despite applause
with no desire
of “oohs” and “ahs”

& for that reason
I will sing
& gladly take my bows
to crickets

Scribbles
On days like today
I scribble and erase
at aria lines

‘til Gounod is a mess,
Bizet leaves the room,
and Verdi goes
completely insane

while Mozart and I
share our madness
in a glass of champagne

and all that’s left to do
is to scream Puccini
into the skeleton
of an empty opera house.
Healing

My healing is in the singing:

In the ribbons of blue sighs

I unravel legato lines.

In the resonance of spirit sorrows

I set free vibrato cries.

In the release of breaths held

& the colors re-warmed

I let ring from the soul.

Writing and photography by: Katy Claire Funke