I wouldn’t suggest I was particularly musical growing up. Sure I enjoyed a good tune, sang along to Christmas carols and Happy Birthday, and played an instrument in school from Grade 4 through Grade 10, but that was essentially it.
And maybe I sell the playing of an instrument a little short. The real magic began to develop when I joined Jazz Band in Grade 8, where I performed a solo & being so embarrassed by the attention (and my opinion of how badly I performed), bawled my eyes out after.
Generally speaking, bawling your eyes out in Grade 8 during the era I grew up in was not good for your hallway school cred.
You’d think an incident like that would’ve been scarring, and maybe it was to a point, yet it also showed me the potential of what I could do. Whether it was due to the vulnerability I showed, whether it was due to pity, or even kindness, a number of people told me that solo wasn’t bad. In fact, quite the opposite.
I decided to do it again in a subsequent class. And again after that. And again. Again.
Next thing you know, there’s some kid bouncing around with a Bass Clarinet during his solos – usually improvised solos to boot – having the time of his life. Sure there were likely a good number of people laughing at me, but it mattered not to me.
I just loved to jam.
Maybe it was the attention I was given by showing this false sense of confidence that convinced me it was a good idea to join Vocal Jazz in Grade 10. Maybe it was due to my girlfriend joining. Maybe a combination of both.
Who knows? I don’t.
But that early morning Grade 10 Vocal Jazz introduced me to singing.
I was one of three boys in that class of 20 some-odd. And considering our age, the vocal variation between us three and the rest of the class wasn’t too significant at first. Until one morning when I decided to explore my vocal range.
I could go low.
Okay, the video above is likely a stretch. I don’t think I had anything near the vocal range of Geoff Castellucci, let alone the ability to go as low. But I did have an octave I could get to that helped me stand out from the crowd.
And boy did I ever.
For the best part of the school year, I sang. And I sang. And I sang.
As the year went on, I discovered my voice did start to change. My higher vocal range began to dissipate, while my reach to the low notes became stronger. Life stuff and all that.
At one point, I genuinely thought singing was something I could do and do well. Until a fateful day in PE where we were playing flag football and I was the Quarterback.
On that day I took a shoulder of a classmate directly to my throat. Like square as square could be. This hit left me on the ground struggling to catch my breath, as the hit – completely unintentional and more the result of lack in coordination than anything – caused my throat and nearly everything around it to instantly swell.
I was sent home that day, and upon visiting the doctor the following day – where I was still unable to do anything more than squeak – was told I had a severely bruised larynx and a few other things. I was also told there it was too early to determine what would happen with my voice, yet to expect changes.
Suffice to say, it changed. The vocal range I once had was no more. The transition my voice was making to that lower octave became more permanent, yet progressed no further.
And that was that. Grade 10 Vocal Jazz was the extent of my singing career.
I miss singing. I still do it here at home, sometimes while drunk at karaoke (years ago), and every so often in the car. Maybe one day I’ll give it a try with people again, but for now… I just live through memories and dreams.