The Perplexed Nightingale

I was in the kitchen just now, cooking alongside my DH (he’s making Halloumi Curry and I was making a Mushroom Bajhi to go with it.) I was singing as I stirred my spices.  When I realised what I was doing, I stopped singing, turned to Mr L, and I asked him what I find to be a very difficult and perplexing question.

I clearly love to sing.

I sing all the time around the house. I sing in the shower. I sing at the stove. I sing while I spin. I even sing on the loo. I do not sing well, admittedly – but it is obvious that something in me needs to express itself through lifting up my voice.

So, how come I never, EVER sing when there are other people around me?

When I was young, my happiest times at school were when we gathered for “Singing Together” – listening to Kathleen Ferrier blowing her winds southerly… I was picked for several junior school and youth club choirs. I was happy enough to sing then. I was in the choir at my first Grammar School – a very posh establishment; all gymslips and navy blue knickers (it was in Royal Tunbridge Wells – this explains all) and I sang the descant part in morning assembly, where we would rotate the music for the Lord’s Prayer weekly over several weeks (I seem to recall it was a six or eight week cycle, but don’t hold me to that.) I must have been able to carry a tune at one time. I do not  however recall ever singing out loud in company of other singers since I was maybe 12 years old. I mimed in assembly.  I went to weddings and funerals and mimed. I didn’t even sing when I was drunk and in the company of the local Rugby Club (although I admit to having learned all the words to The Good Ship Venus) …  I have become convinced that I am unable to hold to a tune when others are singing around me.

And then I met husband #1, who barred me from singing in the house because I made “such a horrible noise.” Did I? Do I? I have no idea. All that I really know is that it stopped me from doing what comes naturally for a great many years.

So, at events such as the one that I attended last night, I sit mute. Embarrassed to open my mouth and show myself up by being the only one to make a horrible noise.

And it is no fun at all.

And it makes me look stand-offish and snooty, which I am not.

I’m glad that I at some time got over the total inhibition. I am really happy that I sing unconsciously as I go about my work each day. I do know that I have a genuine difficulty in singing in company, as I really have no idea where to pitch my voice and it wavers all over the place. Probably nothing that a little tuition could not fix. I also know that I have a problem in having insufficient breath to get through many phrases. Again, not much that a little tuition and some practice would not fix – and the exercise would actually help my breathing.

Something in me shudders at the idea of that tuition and the need to expose my vocal contortions to a stranger – I would feel very naked.

Ah, well, back to the shower. Maybe while I am there I can ponder the irrational “logic” going on here – because a part of me knows that it just doesn’t fit. It makes no sense. At all. After all, I love to sing! Perplexing, is it not?


  1. February 12, 2012

    Sing, sing, sing.

    Writing as one badly formed tin-ear to another, I too do not sing in public. Mainly because I have more respect for other people’s ears. I do sometimes sing when only L can hear me and I know it’s awful but she is usually very kind about it. L also sings (I can hear her now from the other room) the same sort of noise that is a cross between a tom cat and a fox. It is bloody terrible, and she refuses to continue singing if I enter the room. However, no matter how bad her singing is, I love to hear her sing because I know that when she sings she is not unhappy*. So fill your lungs and sing. I’m sure Mr L feels the same way about your singing as I do about L’s.

    * We don’t do “happy” here the best we get is “not unhappy”.

  2. Carole
    February 12, 2012

    Singing is such a pleasure, never let anyone stop you. I bet you sing perfectly well. It reminds me how my history teacher told me I couldn’t draw, and deprived me of that pleasure for decades. He was wrong, and I bet hb#1 was too.

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