One Christmas ago, when I was in Kindergarten, my teachers asked me to sing. They expected me to sing and that I could sing because my mother sings beautifully – like an angel. They believed that such a voice comes out from her daughter, too. “Like mother, like daughter,” they had reasoned. It was a DNA thing which they supposed. “She got it from her mom,” and they were also so sure of it.
What was I to do? I was such a miniature credulous being then. I could have only said YES or NO. I did not know how to retort “I’ll think about it” then.
Hitherto, I subjected myself to a so-called “practicing” with Mama.
“Learn to control your breathing…”
“Aim for one long phrase…”
“Don’t breathe between unlikely places…”
“Breathe where sentences end…”
“Fill your lungs when you inhale.”
“Do not lift your shoulders…”
“See how my chest alone expands?”
“See how my tummy jutts forward as I breathe?”
“No shoulders involved there, you see?”
Her nostrils flared as she breathed air through her nose. “Breathe through your nose and not your mouth,” she would say. “You wil sound better – sing better. I assure you that. You’ll have longer breath reserves and a better voice quality at that!” Then she further added, “You’ll have better support with less effort and no strain. You’ll endure more and sing more songs…”
I thought I was cracking a secret code to successful singing. And as I belted out Away in a Manger that Christmas eve – my feet rocking sideways like two boats about to capsize – I felt like I, indeed, cracked a code to beautiful singing!
People clapped and cheered. That reception from the audience whetted a certain musical appetite. From thereon out, I wasn’t afraid to sing another song.