Friday, 25 September 2015

Chasing Dreams

I was looking online for sheet music for the Muppets song Rainbow Connection and suddenly it brought up a flood of memories so powerful that I had to stop and write about it.  The song has resonated with me from the first time I heard it back in 1979, and for a long time afterward I was inspired to chase after my dreams.

Over the years, many of my dreams had to be put aside for various reasons but I always held onto one: music performance.  I studied piano, sang in my grade school choir, played clarinet in my high school band.  Like many teenagers do with their passions, I threw myself into it by memorizing songs and libretto from various Broadway musicals and Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, and driving my parents crazy with renditions of "Wouldn't It Be Loverly" and "So Please You Sir".

Despite my parents' misgivings I took a music degree in university, during which I sang in the choir (which I enjoyed so much that I kept returning to sing for years after I graduated) and continued my piano studies.  After graduation I applied to an advanced program in music direction and orchestra conducting, but I was turned down on a technicality.

Undaunted, I began auditioning for local choirs and theatre groups, only to be told each time that I was not quite good enough to qualify.  Part of the problem was that I had no vocal teacher and hadn't the finances at the time to take formal lessons, so I had to self-train.  My dream seemed to be escaping.

Life moved ahead; before I knew it, music had fallen by the wayside.  My piano had to be given to my brother when my parents retired and moved out of the city, because the apartment I lived in at the time had no room.  I married, and after our daughter was born we moved to the suburbs, which made it much more difficult to get to the places in the city where I would have needed to be to sing.  I decided to take a break until our daughter was in school and then I'd get my voice back into shape.

But then one winter I had a series of nasty colds and respiratory infections, including bronchitis.  After I finally healed I made an awful discovery: my voice that had always been "not quite good enough" and that I'd tried hard to make good enough just wasn't the same any more.  I'd lost more than half an octave off my upper range and what remained sounded fuzzy.  It was if something else was telling me I couldn't be good enough to sing on stage.

Now, my singing is limited to karaoke Disney songs with our daughter, and I've hardly touched a piano in over a decade.  The musical career I'd once dreamed of is unlikely.  But that's okay.  I tried but wasn't quite good enough.  What matters is that I tried.

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