Finding My Voice This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   Think of me, think of me fondly whenwe've said good-bye ..."* my voice floats away on the melody as my fingersdance over familiar patterns. Along with the words, tests, homework, fights andany other worries are all chased into oblivion by the intricate strains. Music,my outlet for creativity and a stress reliever, almost escaped me years ago. Itsstart was probably the greatest indignity of my elementary-schoolyears.

I've heard the word "What?" more than anyone on earth.From the time I was tiny, no one could hear me the first time I said anything,and all my sentences were always followed with that word. I was, and still am,cursed with an impossibly quiet voice. In desperation my mother turned to singinglessons, hoping they would help me speak louder. I was a self-consciousfourth-grader who never wanted to stick out, and so the thought of singing infront of anyone caused instant dizziness. Not only that, but I was the onlyperson I knew who was taking vocal lessons.

Every Monday my motherfaithfully dragged me, sometimes crying, sometimes sullenly silent, to a prettyhouse near the harbor where flowers sweetened the air. My teacher was an olderlady who was very patient with me, no matter what happened. One day, in responseto some gentle encouragement to practice more, I looked straight into her kind,chocolate brown eyes and told her that I never practiced, that there wasno way to practice singing because it was stupid and would never teach me tospeak louder. She sighed almost imperceptibly and continued with the piece I wassupposed to have learned.

Sixth grade rolled around, and I was still beingshoved into that house, still drifting through the flowery aroma. To my absolutedelight, a day came when my mother said casually that my voice lesson had beencanceled for that week. An immediate exclamation of satisfaction caught in mythroat but ended with a "Really? Why?" She glanced at me and repliedthat my teacher was going to an opera that day. "Oh ...." I wanderedoff to do something more worthy of my time.

After some confusingthoughts and realizations, I was unable to avoid the conclusion: I had beenlooking forward to my lesson. Yes, that feeling of regret could only mean onething: I liked singing. I, the epitome of a superficial pre-teen, enjoyedsomething not done by everyone else. The thought burned in my head for days, butI never told anyone, not my mother or father, definitely not my friends. Iwouldn't tell anyone for a year. Amazingly, practicing did do some good, and Ideveloped the ability to project sound. The physical components of singing -using the diaphragm, controlling the voice, and more - became second nature tome.

My friends discovered my little secret, and to my surprise, they stillwanted to associate with me. I continued to forbid my mother telling anyone aboutmy lessons, including my brothers. Regardless of how secretive I was, somehowpeople found out, and they didn't care. I had no idea that others would think itwas something positive.

My orchestra teacher would ask, "Why don'tyou need more practice with concepts? Why do you understand them soquickly?" Chalking it up to the fact that I wasn't stupid didn't work, andrationalizing that I had more music experience than others only took me so far. Ifigured it was the same thing as math - I'm good at it.

Afterencouragement, suggestions and some threats, I began to practice regularly.Stressful days or problems I might have had seemed to fade when I sang. Ofcourse, with so much practice I also began to acquire my own techniques, and gotbetter. Some pride built up until I wasn't so afraid to embrace what I realizedmade me unique. Now, I find myself willingly and perhaps somewhat boastfullymaking my music background known. Choirs, orchestras and chamber groups fill mytime in addition to practicing.

As I sit at my piano, the music flowsfrom my fingertips as I play song after song. My now somewhat hoarse voice soundsover the chords, "... and through music my soul began to soar, and I heardas I'd never heard before ...."*

*From "Phantom of theOpera"







This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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