I have spent the last year attending a Jazz music course, and it has been great. Having the opportunity to play music with people every week, singing lots of songs I didn’t know before and meeting a variety of people from different backgrounds who are all there for the love of music.

But in the end, the best thing I learned was about myself. During the course, I found my inner strength. By putting myself out there into music-land, I have had the opportunity to strengthen my self regularly.

Keeping your values

When in a learning environment I find I need a balance between learning: being open to new lessons and ideas, whilst also not compromising myself or my own beliefs. In other words, without being overly stubborn, it is good not to lose oneself completely and be spoon fed the new information. 

Many times during the course I had the chance to stand my ground in regards to a specific topic; Vibrato. For those that don’t know what vibrato is, here is the Oxford Dictionary definition:

‘A rapid, slight variation in pitch in singing or playing some musical instruments, producing a stronger or richer tone.’

I have been told many times on this jazz journey that vibrato isn’t ‘Jazz’. But the thing is…. I like my vibrato. I was advised to choose when to use it, and not to do it automatically. But I do always choose. I am in control, and I can sing without it, but honestly, I like it! However… it seems that my choices do not fit into the Jazz idea. This I don’t mind at all. I have never been one to fit completely into one box, one genre, one skill set.

Reps = Strength

As the year has progressed I have found myself having to defend my voice, my choices, and I have gotten much better at it. In fact, the last time it occurred, I stayed so calm that I could respond eloquently and I am really pleased with my progress. Previously this situation made me crumble into a puddle of tears. But now? I feel like a zen-warrior!

The first time I encountered this situation of being criticised for something that I am content with, I did crumble. But the regular exposure to the same event has really empowered me – though I had no idea that it was helping me grow at the time!
The second or third time it happened, I managed a reply of some sort. But the last time it happened was the best. It was as if I could see the comment coming towards me like a ball in motion. I caught it, looked at it, and calmly gave it back. So in the end, all that exposure was good for me.

I didn’t let the repetitiveness make me cave in and change my voice. Instead, I grew in my own strength, my own belief.

Sometimes testing situations can be really good for us!

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