On Secret Dreams and Frustrations That Won’t Go Away


Alternate for 20th Mar 08 : THE GIRL AND HER GUITAR

Does anyone here remember the time when I told you all about my hope to learn to play the guitar?

Well, my first serious attempt at this was some 3.5 years ago. However, the whole thing came to an abrupt end. As shortly after I told you all about my guitar-playing dreams, I found out that I was pregnant with my li'l girl.

Anyone who knows me knows that pregnancy meant spending most of my time feeling absolutely weak and ill. As such, eating and other normal activities just became too much of a challenge. There was no way I could keep up with learning the guitar at the time.

And, I've never picked up Ashton again since. The brand new guitar stayed in its soft case inside a small storage space behind the pantry. Just outside my home office/studio.

Aside: Well, okay, maybe I did pick it up once since then. For that self-portrait shoot of "The Girl and Her Guitar" a couple of years ago (as pictured here). But, it was just a prop then, so that doesn't really count.

Anyway, ever since I started helping my son to learn the piano (tutoring him for piano practices), that music itch began to grow in me. I began to play more tunes on the piano. Just basic beginner stuff. It was enough to fan the old flames of playing music.

Then, some time last month, after some strange daydream/fantasy sequence --- with matching contemplation on "desirable skills for teaching" --- the old flames turned in to a growing fire within. Not too strong that it completely throws me off. Just enough to entertain the idea of taking my mini piano playing to another level (think Kindergarten to Grade 1!). Right now, I'm working on learning "Superman" by Five for Fighting (a fave). I'm okay playing with the right hand. I'm just about able to play the song. But, I've always been hopeless when I try to add the left hand. So, let's see how long it will take for me to get to an okay level.

And... Well... I'm not stopping there. That growing fire in music also include my attempt at trying to learn the guitar all over again.

"You can learn new things at any time in your life if you're willing to be a beginner. If you actually learn to like being a beginner, the whole world opens up to you." ~ Barbara Sher

Yes, Ashton's out of the closet and the soft case. And, with the help of Jamorama's Guitar Lessons, I've been re-learning my chords and my strumming the last couple of weeks or so. Of course, I'm taking it easy. Just doing lessons when I can - and trying to practice at least 3-4x a week. My fingers are sore (my ego's even more bruised - nothing like being a complete beginner at something!). And so far, I'm really enjoying it, even if all I do is play the A major and D chords with Jamorama's "jamming music".

I'm hoping that this time, I'll be able to keep at it. No matter how slow my progress might be. As long as I just keep going.

But, guess what? The piano and the guitar playing aren't the most embarrassing bit of my rekindled flame in music. In fact, I feel so shy admitting this next bit to anyone but my immediate family. I even try to lay low with it when kids and hubby are around. That's how hopelessly embarrassed I am about it.

However, I figured, if you care enough to read my blog faithfully, then you definitely can laugh at my expense about this next bit of my confession.

Well, I've never really made it a secret that I've always wanted to learn how to sing. In fact, I even confessed it right here at the Studio (see my item #2). I may have even mentioned it more than once. It's definitely a childhood fantasy that turned in to one of my biggest frustrations in life.

The thing is, I've given up on my voice many, many years ago. I knew that I will never ever be a singer ever since that fateful singing contest, when I failed so miserably (at least, I can laugh at it now, though I can still vividly picture my then-crush and his friend's comical face in my mind). Then later, I was told even by my own mother never to sing in public. Even my husband, though not a musician at all, tells me that I do not fit the "singing Pinoy" bill (a funny stereotyping about Filipinos, as apparently, one of the things we're generally known as is "the musical type").

So yes, I knew.

That's why no one can even convince me to sing karaoke. Never mind that many people who sound worse than Cameron Diaz in "My Best Friend's Wedding" pick up the microphone with no issues whatsoever. When it comes to singing, I just can't muster enough chutzpah to make bad sound good enough. Even just for a laugh.

However, over the last six years, I've been singing more and more. Granted, it's mostly just singing for my kids (who happen to be my biggest fans --- but they're the ones who also tell me without flinching, "Enough singing, mummy!" when I try to sing for over half an hour).

And, thanks (or no thanks?!) to this same daydream/fantasy... and my time spent in classrooms as a student teacher... this long pushed aside dream of singing resurfaced.

Especially because one of the things that kept being raised during teacher training is the mantra, "Make sure you take care of your voice. It's your best instrument." (and other similar tips on vocal care).

Now, with all that in place, you're probably ready for this admission: Yes, I am learning how to sing too - or do vocal lessons. Or, whatever you want to call it. It's something I've wanted to do for years. But, I decided long, long ago that my voice was just one of those things that was not worth putting any of my renaissance time in to. Except now, I finally learned to think that maybe there's something there that's still worth saving.

Now, you can go ahead and laugh.

If you're still reading - and if you're interested to know how I'm planning on doing this - Well, I'm using a programme similar to Jamorama's Guitar Lessons. Except it's for voice, of course. I think I'll hold off on the name of that programme for now. Maybe if I see any improvements, I might decide to share. Heh.

In any case, no, I have no intentions of joining the next Australian Idol or Australia's Got Talent. Nor am I planning on joining a band, cutting an album, or taking part in a musical. Definitely not what I have in mind right now.

I'm just hoping that my ambition is simple enough: I wish to learn to manage my voice well enough to be able to use singing (and hopefully, guitar and piano) as part of my teaching repertoire. You see, I have a few teaching ideas that I wish to use someday wherein I'd like to be able to tap in to such skills without being too afraid of what I can or cannot do.

And yes, maybe one of these days, I'd be game enough for a karaoke party too. Maybe. 😉

What about you? Have you got secret dreams and hopes that you've given up on - but now you wish that you can try working on again?

"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few." ~ Shunryu Suzuki

About the Author Shai Coggins (MTeach, MSoc Sci App Psych)

Shai has been managing and blogging here at ShaiCoggins.com for 17 years. Here, she writes about creativity, productivity, and how to recharge for a better, happier lifestyle. She is the author of Today: Life Journal, Colour Bliss: Kaleidoscopes, and a little known children's book. A serial entrepreneur, Shai also currently runs Vervely.com, a boutique digital media agency offering online content, community, and conversion marketing services. Her blogging experience and digital work have been featured in various media, including being listed in Fast Company's "Most Influential Women in Technology" list. Originally from Manila, Shai lived in Singapore and the USA before moving to Australia with her British husband. They have two children, a pet bunny, and a rambunctious rescue Labrador.

follow me on:
8 comments

Comments are closed