Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Torch Singer 101: Progress Report

Last week was my third Torch Singer 101 class.  We're half way through the class already, and many of you have asked me how it's going. So here's my mid-term report.

General info:  The class itself is great. Jackie Allen, the teacher, is gracious, kind, encouraging and talented.  The other students are great too. It takes a special bit of chutzpuh to show up for this sort of thing, and it's fun to be around people who are willing to put themselves out there.

The day of the first class, I was such a nervous wreck before class started, I barely got myself to the door of Jackie's home. But I did. Right after I sent this text to a few of my friends:

Have I mentioned how wonderful my friends are?  

After Jackie welcomed us to class, we started through introductions, which included phrases such as:
  • vocal performance major in college
  • national jazz project in Nashville
  • perform in local community theatre productions
  • performed in New York
  • competitive barbershop
  • musical family where dad danced around the living room singing Sinatra
and . . . Brave Project...terrified  

(Don't worry Mom. I didn't mention that when you were a kid your church choir director asked if you would just mouth the words instead of singing them. We can't all dance around singing Sinatra, now can we? I also left out Dad's sweaty towel waving rendition of Kansas City at our wedding reception. Lord have mercy.)

In other words, I seem to have landed in the gifted class. My first thought was to stay after class to ask if I could be transferred to the November group. Let's just say it took a lot of fight to keep my flight in check. (The wine we were all invited to bring to class might have helped too.) As I left that night in the pouring rain and responded to a text from my friend asking how it went, my report included this text.

At that point, I put my chances at showing up for the public performance at about 5%. And only if I could get my hands on Roger's doctor-approved miracle stage fright beta blocker drug (which I ultimately chose not to do, but I did mark this as a life experience since it's the first time anyone ever leaned over to me and said, hey, I know about this drug you might like .  . . .) But I was so stressed about the performance that my husband and friends told me to just drop the class. That it was not worth this much stress and anxiety. Gulp.

This is where I mention that I may have overshot my brave on this challenge. It would have probably been a better option to just take a singing class or some voice lessons that did not involve the pressure of a performance at the end. But, pulling from Toby Boss's infamous phrase book:  "That train has left the station." And while there is an emergency brake on that train, I hope not to use it.

Week 2 built confidence. I went into the class this week having decided to make the performance optional for myself, but I didn't tell anyone at class that. We continued our group call and response scat singing while marching around the dining room table. We chose from piles of sheet music while Jackie worked individually with students at the piano to find our range, including the low and high notes we are solid on.  

We also drank more wine. And ate Jackie's cookies. And one by one, several of my new friends pulled me aside to tell me that they had read the blog and offered encouragement to me.  "I think you're just not used to a lower voice yet."  "We are going to be in the audience thinking you have so got this!"  "We just have to remember that this is for fun!"

Have I mentioned that my sense of fun is slightly underdeveloped? That sometimes I tend to take life a little too seriously?? (I know, crazy, isn't it?  So many of you right now are shaking your heads saying, "I had no idea you take life seriously, Lynne! When I think of FUN, you always are the first person to pop right into my head!")

We also talked about what to wear for the performance since we have an alum in our group. "Oh, really you can wear whatever you're comfortable in. Sparkle is good. New Year's Eve dresses are good."

Apparently Lee Ann doesn't kick off her Birkenstocks and hang out with friends around a dining room table playing Mad Gab in jeans and sock feet on NYE!  I can't remember ever owning a New Year's Eve dress. And I'm guessing that putting my hands on one that comes in tall in the next few weeks won't be easy. Aaaack! I left thinking I better work on that outfit because my new singing buddies were counting on me to be at the show. Odds of performing:  50%.

Week 3 opened with Jackie telling us that one of the students needed to drop the class due to unexpected challenges in her family, so we were all really needed to perform in the show. In the words of my wise friend, Kelly: "Drat!" It also brought more improv scat singing and individual time at the piano with Jackie running through our song selections, which for me are Fly Me to the Moon and Beyond the Sea. (No, alas, there are no Pips or rhythm section in torch singer shows so Midnight Train to Georgia is out.) We each also scheduled our individual one hour lesson with Jackie to work out our tempos, introductions, etc. for our charts. That's what we torch singers call songs.  Charts.

Then this show promo poster arrived in our e-mail this week:

Repeat after me: Fun.  This is Fun. This will be fun.  

Anyone know where I can find a sparkly dress in tall in the next 2 weeks?  It looks like I'm in.


  1. So proud of you and all you have accomplished! So many things are scheduled for Oct. 14 - I am up to three things I want to do, but I think Concessions at the volleyball game are going to win out. You will be awesome!

  2. Lynne, we are all so proud of you for doing this!

  3. The promotional poster is such a blast! I also love the "New Year's Eve dress shopping" possibilities. All is good, Lynne. Sounds like the process is as enjoyable as the possibility of the performance!! Thanks for your mid-term report--and best wishes as the time draws near. Excited for you!!!

  4. You truly are fabulous and a real inspiration!!! You go girl!!!

  5. Lynne, I am so very proud of you! I KNEW you would hit this out of the park! I am humbled at your dedication to this project! (I need to quit complaining when my knee hurts!!)

  6. You are so brave--to even sign up for this!! Regarding the performance dress, I recall seeing you in a long black dress (last year or year before for dinner night before NETA conference). I think it looks like a New Year's Eve Dress!! :)

  7. Wow Lynne...your name will be in "lights"...how cool is that!

  8. So proud of you, Lynne! I will be there if we aren't harvesting Tuesday! You'll be fabulous!