I first realized that I had lost my voice in mid-2012. I had been occupying a time in life where I often felt speechless, deeply powerless, and sometimes pretty useless—particularly at work.
During a particularly resolute afternoon, I wrote a list called "The Things I Would Do If I Could Do Anything". I redrafted the list several times over the course of some months, and found that music always topped the list in some form. Among other things, I aspired to sing, front a band, perform with Alice Smith, Beyoncé, and/or Lianne La Havas, dance ballet, be an astronaut, and to play an instrument.
In the process of translating my vague desire to "do something...else" to words, I concluded that I had always simply yearned to perform. By my definition, that entailed being a human capable of and confident in doing a thing I love in front of others skillfully. While I love to do many things and am skillful at some of those things, the things that existed in both sets were few.
Singing always seemed to me an innate, yet cultivated ability. I sought a vocal coach who could help me determine where I stood, and help me plot out just how much cultivation I might need. The timing of my search may have been a consequence of the inevitable "new year, new me" declarations, an affirmation of spirit from having started a new job a few months prior, or perhaps a delayed birthday/reminder-of-my-mortality quest, but after years of solitary sing-a-longs, favorite singer mimicry in the company of close family and friends, and much deliberation, I embarked on a journey charted by faith.
A professional vocal assessment with my now vocal coach revealed that while I have excellent pitch and rhythmic repetition, I would need significant ear training and some pitch orientation/recognition work. I'd also have to focus my efforts on releasing a tense tongue and an overzealous jaw, whose ambition is overcompensatory for the underutilized muscles I didn't even know I was supposed to be using.
I remember leaving that assessment feeling deeply inspired, overflowingly full of possibility in a way I don't think I've ever felt before, and, most of all, like I was leaps and bounds closer to having the voice I had found myself so desperately without. I don't recall another time in life when the desire to fulfill my potential was so well-matched by a conviction that I could make it so.
In the 326 days that have followed that initial assessment, I have had 22 private lessons, attended 12 group bootcamp sessions and 8 advanced vocal performance classes, performed 2 songs as a soloist and as part of an ensemble in a Christmas concert, sung at 1 open mic, and have reprised my live band karaoke rendition of Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" at Arlene's Grocery exactly once.
Of course, I still have much to learn about music and performance, but I've already learned an immense amount about myself, the nature of practicing a new craft, and the important role that the support of my family and friends has played in everything I've been able to do in life.
I'm thoroughly enjoying the journey, and look forward to what's to come.