Sophie’s voice lesson. And from the first sentence you might get the wrong idea. It wasn’t because I thought it would be painful, it was because I knew it would be beautiful. I was right.
Sophie has been taking voice lessons only since late December, but I had been hearing great reports and she demonstrated for me for about 10 seconds the other night, so I got a taste of what was to come. The lesson is at 4pm during the week in an absolutlely beautiful home in Owings Mills with a voice performance coach (I like that title). 4 o’clock isn’t the easiest appointment to get to and this would be my first time taking her there. I had to essentially shut down my practice at 3, get home, get Sophie and get her to her lesson. But what I’m learning more and more every day is that when you take time, attention and effort to do things you believe are important, especially when it comes to those closest to you, the payoffs are extraordinary. Appreciation and gratitude open doors to a universe I had never known.
When we first pulled up, Sophie and I exited the car and knocked on the door, because I had yet to meet the voice coach and wanted to introduce myself. She invited me to stay for the 50 minute lesson, but I declined to stay for the entire time. I didn’t want to make Sophie nervous and didn’t want to interrupt her flow, though Sophie told me she was fine with it. What I couldn’t tell either of them, was I just knew the emotions of watching her sing solo would be pretty strong. So I made up an excuse I had to make a few phone calls and I would come in for the last “part”. I found a few people to call while I sat in the car, and then with about 30 minutes to go I entered the home.
As I walked in the door, just off to the left was a gorgeous sitting room, lavishly decorated with a large piano in the left hand corner and a mike stand and what looked like a boom box in the other corner. And there stood Sophie, at the microphone stand, practicing her craft. So what song do you think she was singing? Some new Taylor Swift love-and-leave ’em tune, some dance tune by Beyonce’, or some old show tune that’s turned into such a cliche it’s unlistenable? Nope. My girl was singing a song from one of the most famous and most performed musicals in the world, Les Miserables.
It was “I Dreamed a Dream”. Perfect. Cause it felt like I was in one.
I sat down and listened. She was just finishing up what I assumed was another run-through of the song, but it sounded great. And after about 30 seconds, and a few tips from the coach, they started again. Her teacher playing piano, along with music coming from the sound system and Sophie at the microphone:
I dreamed a dream in time gone by
When hope was high
And life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving
I have to tell you. I’m real comfortable in my own skin, I’m comfortable with my manhood, but that song, that performance and seeing my daughter, my flesh and blood sing such a beautiful song, hit the high notes and do it with such emotion and confidence, nearly brought me to tears. I almost got up to leave. But I stayed. I had to. I was mesmerized to watch my little girl pull off such a big feat. That is no easy song to sing and combine that tune with the lyrics, the perfect setting and Sophie’s voice and you might just be able to go there with me.
The voice coach was with me. She told Sophie she thought it was simply beautiful and that she just can’t believe how far she has come in such a short time. She wondered aloud, in my direction, if anyone else in the house, or family was a singer. I simply smiled and told her I could sing, I mean I can… kind of, but not like Sophie. Don’t misunderstand, the performance wasn’t perfect, but it was perfect to me. And it was damn close to perfect to her voice coach, which is what really matters. Actually it was satisfying to Sophie, which is the most important thing. Because she had to have the confidence to do it again. And she did.
So is it a gift? The teacher said it is. I certainly believe we are all born with some innate talents, way, way more than we give ourselves credit for. But in the end it’s not genetics, or intelligence… I believe it’s where you choose to focus your attention, your vision, and true grit. You have to practice, practice and practice to be truly great at anything, to be world-class. But combine that practice with passion, a strong belief in yourself and your abilities, and a dream you really want to fullfill, and you can accomplish anything. Be patient, persistent and passionate. That my friends is a killer combination. Sophie proved it the other day. And she will go a long way if she stays true to what it takes to live the dream she’s dreamed. I only want it to be, for her, a life worth living. She certainly makes it that way for me.
I knew it was almost too much to take. And I was right.
Until next time, thanks for taking the time.