Health & Nutrition

Starting New with Each Breath

A woman with attention deficit finds a place where she always gets another chance to make mistakes, start over, and get it right next time: singing class.

I’m taking singing lessons.

It’s the fulfillment of a childhood dream that – until now – was secreted into the furthest reaches of my tender heart. After my Big Birthday, though, I decided it was now or never. I chose now.

And I’m struggling. Not to stay on key – I’ve always been able to do that fairly well. No, it’s “singing the vowels on my larynx” that has me befuddled. I can’t do it. And when I accidentally find that place in my throat, I can’t stay there in the midst of “ohs” and “oohs” and “ahs.” Worse, I can’t even tell when I’ve done it correctly.

It’s frustrating to say the least and a test of my ADHD impatience.

[Hate to Wait? Here’s Help]

But Laurece, my singing teacher, keeps smiling. She tells me that no one ever taught me to sing as they taught me to walk and talk, that everyone starts this way, that it’s a process of unlearning before re-learning. More importantly, she says that there are unlimited opportunities to relax and literally find my voice.

“On your very next breath, you can try again,” she says gently, when she notes my exasperation. “You get to start over in the next phrase, and in the next one after that.”

Hmm. I have another chance to do it right. Lots of chances, in fact. It sounds perfectly logical but such easy self-acceptance has been missing in action for most of my adult life. Probably all of it, to be frank.

My internal censor rarely gives me permission to make mistakes, which certainly inhibits learning. I pride myself on my open mind and willingness to accept imperfection in others. But I don’t make the same allowances for myself. I am impatient and angry when I don’t catch on as quickly as I expect. Out the window goes self-compassion. In come criticism and self-judgment, those familiar ADHD sidecars.

[How to Banish Negative Thoughts & Feelings]

To show up, lesson after lesson, with my vowels skipping past my larynx (a word I have consistently mispronounced; it’s lair-rinks instead of lair-nix) bruises my ego. But singing isn’t about ego. It’s about structure and soft sighs and clear tones. And I always have another chance to get it right. Always.

So I stick with it, trusting Laurece to guide my vowels (and eventually my consonants) toward a better voice. It’s a love-hate lesson. It’s a love-hate Linda. And for now, she always gets another chance to do it right.

Does your internal censor rein you in even when you ache to try something new? How compassionate are you to yourself compared to your compassion for others? What voice do you call on to calm your fears?

1 Comments & Reviews

  1. I’ve recently been diagnosed as an adult with ADHD and have been doing singing lessons for about 4 months now. I can relate so much Linda! The lessons are such a struggle! Like you said, it’s not because it’s hard to stay in key or anything like that. But focusing on the explanations of anatomy, and connecting to and “feeling” what’s happening in my throat has been practically impossible. I can’t for the life of my figure out what my larynx is doing. If I somehow succeed at following the instruction of raising or lowering my larynx it’s purely guesswork until my teacher says that it sounds correct. My struggle had me wondering whether it was just me or whether it was specifically linked to my ADHD (I’m still figuring out what is actually “normal” and what I thought was “normal” but turns out is a symptom of ADHD). It’s such a relief to read about your experience and know that I’m not alone in this. Do you think it’s difficult because it’s harder for us to actually pay proper attention to the small movements happening in our throats as we sing? It all feels the same to me to be honest, I’ve just been going by sound and hoping for the best. Like your teacher, mine is wonderfully kind and patient, even when I get over critical or frustrated with myself for simple mistakes. Overall it’s a great experience, and a fulfillment of a long time dream of mine as well! Definitely tests me self confidence and patience though. One lesson I’m proud and the next lesson I hate myself and my voice and never want to sing again. It’s exhausting :’) Thanks a lot for sharing this, good luck with your singing journey!

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