Monday, June 29, 2009

Voices inside my head

This morning, I went to my first appointment with the voice therapist. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but the things she had me do - read a bunch of words and phrases, sometimes with differing inflections - didn't really surprise me. One of the exercises turned out really silly; I read the same phrase several times, stressing a different word each time, and she interjected questions which prompted the new stress. I'm not sure who started laughing first, but we both had fun with that one.

My first "homework" exercise, which I am to do three times a day, is to read several words and phrases, working on breath control in a particular way, and avoiding some of the things I currently do, which she pointed out to me as not particularly feminine. I'm set up to go weekly to work with her. I hope I do well, since this is one of the things that really causes me anxiety. It's also kind of amusing to me that all the work that we did in high school choir on posture and breath control, will be very helpful with my voice exercises.

Having to recall those exercises from high school reminded me of another important moment. The first, clearest memory that I have of gender weirdness occurred in choir class when I was a freshman. My voice hadn't yet started to change, and I was still a soprano, but almost all freshman boys, including me, went into boys' choir. While we were doing warmup exercises at the beginning of class one day, one of the guys who was sitting next to me happened to hear something a little strange, and moved so he could hear me. I was singing in my normal register, which just so happened to match that of our choir director - that of a girl. I took a bit of ribbing over that, but at the same time I remember feeling something else. Perhaps a feeling of rightness? Satisfaction that I was recognized in the way which I really felt? It registered as a weird feeling at the time, but it did make an impression. A few months later, shortly after the spring semester had started, puberty hit, and by the end of the school year I had turned into a baritone. But in retrospect, it was a rather nice affirmation, even if I didn't fully recognize it as one right then, and especially since it hadn't been meant that way.

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