‘All your dreams come true if you have the courage to pursue them’. Walt Disney
The first song I ever learned from beginning to end was ‘A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes’ sung during the cartoon-version of the movie Cinderella. I was young, and believed in the words I sung, that my dreams would actually come true.
Why is music so important to humans anyways? When I watch my children come home from school they immediately put on the music, thrash on the guitar, play on the piano, and sing while they wander around the house. As a parent, those happy tunes they make fill my life with joy, and also serves to let me know that everything is ok in their lives. And just before bed, through their doors, I listen to the made-up songs they sing in their rooms. I can’t help but think, good night sweet ones, my job as a mother is done, after all happiness is all we can hope for in this world.
The medium for expressing emotion through music is my voice, and when I sing it stops the negative stuff from flowing into my thoughts. It is my cheap form of therapy, and serves as a moment of elated bliss. While I am in the act of singing, there is no room left in my thoughts, or concentration for anything more but the act itself. All my energy goes towards hitting the notes, following the tune, keeping the rhythm and pronouncing the words. It aids as an escape from my problems.
Singing takes me on a journey. While my imagination ignites during a song, a story starts to play in my head. Like a film real, I see a little movie. When I practice a song it seems like the same thoughts come to mind. Sometimes a song will take me to a time in my life when I first heard the song, and back to how it made me feel. A sort of therapy to remember, deal with stuff and to help put it to rest. Sometimes it is a reminder of happy times, and those too I relive through songs, relating to the stories the songwriter is sharing.
Music is scientifically proven to engage many parts of our brain at once. It keeps our minds activated.
When did the dream begin for me?
I started off in life like many others; in a small town with an ideal childhood. Riding my bike to go play with my friends, swimming in rivers, climbing cherry trees; I was having adventures through thick forests and cow pastures. My imagination was vivid, and I remember very early on making up elaborate stories to keep myself entertained.
In school I was young for my age. I was still singing and playing with imaginary friends while the other kids were growing up. My childhood was an amazing mix of urban neighbourhoods with sidewalks, and country bumpkin living where my shoes were rotting off my feet. I was always dirty, like a boy, keeping up with my older brother as best I could. I would play my mother’s records over and again singing into the microphone. I would dress up, make up dances and pretend to me the stars on the album covers. I was free to dream, never pushed forward; my parents just let be me.
Unfortunately my life took a turn. My security was shattered when my parents unexpectedly split leaving a young impressionable twelve-year-old to grow up overnight. I was awoken from my imaginary world. I really had no intentions of growing up. I would have been very content on being those stars until I reached 40!
During this time I joined the choir in school. I was the youngest with many older kids in my class from the low-income neighbourhood we moved to, who had failed a grade of two. I was literally a lamb among the wolves.
“A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes, when you’re fast asleep, in dreams you will lose your heartache, whatever you wish for you keep. Have faith in your dreams and someday, your rainbow will come smiling through. No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true”. It turned into my mantra.
Through the choir I found my voice, I ferociously learned songs and it was through this process of singing before school, during lunch and after school that I healed myself. That choir saved me. For the three years of middle school in the crime capital of BC, while my friends were led astray, I sang my way through my teenage years, and found a way to cope with the crazy world around me. It was my escape. It was my sanctuary. It was my thing.
Of course life happens and I had to go to work by grade 9, and by grade 11 I was working nearly full-time. Singing never completely stopped, instead became a karaoke-night hobby. Singing never left my heart, and that 12-year-old girl inside me still finds music her pacifier, my escape, a time where I am completely absorbed by something greater than myself.
When we moved to France I promised myself to put hobbies back on my list. I joined the International Choir and got an amazing opportunity to sing Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody during my second year. In front of a large group of 500 people in the Nelson Mandela Centre here in Capestang. It was on my list of 40 things to do before my 40th birthday and it turned out to be one of the biggest moments of my life. It was a super experience and reminded me of how much I loved to sing. The choir wasn’t the best fit for me, so I eventually quit.
It has been thirty years since that little girl discovered her voice, and it is funny how things happen. As part of my lesson plan when we have French students living with us, I started to incorporate music into their curriculum. For two years I have been singing with my kids, and students learning current song that play on the radio.
One day I took a group of students to a local festival where they had a singing contest for the kids. Of course I ushered the group up to sing, which ended in more laughs than prizes as they sung ‘Let It Go’ from the movie Frozen! Then they said that it was my turn. I couldn’t refuse after they had gone up. I grabbed the microphone and I could feel the stares from the hundred or so people in the square.
What felt like the longest moment of my life, with no music playing I mustered the courage to sing “What A Wonderful World” By Louis Armstrong. I was hitting the notes, although I don’t remember singing them. It was a euphoric experience, which took me back to grade 9-choir class, when we sang this song in three parts. I remembered being thirteen, and belting out my first solo on TV with the school’s stage band. I had a moment of complete clarity up there, red faced in the summer heat. I was absolutely vulnerable. I found a healing that can only come from music, exposing your soul and letting out its voice.
The next weekend I found myself at a festival talking to a friend who happens to be a local musician and we got on the topic of me singing again. He invited me to sing with him on December 5th.
C.A.C. 34 is the local association of musicians and artists in our village, who put on theatre performances, and music venues throughout the year in our village, keeping the arts alive and employed year round!
So far we have managed a few practices. I figure even if I fail miserably, it is something that I need to try. Something I need to express. I can’t explain it, but that 12-year-old little girl had a dream, and it was never fulfilled. The dream never left my thoughts or desires, it just took me 30 years to get around to it; after all a dream is a wish your heart makes. It just took along time for the wish to come back to me.
UPDATE December 5th evening went very well. Not without mistakes, with practice I feel I wish to continue. Perhaps I will not become famous, but it is very enjoyable and I really love the way I feel on stage. Thanks Alain!