Singing high notes was impossible until this happened. It was a pivotal moment that changed everything about my singing. It began with a simple flyer brought home from school by my 15 year old daughter.
I was 43 years old and I had given up on singing.
When I was young I sang all the time. My Dad reminded me that when I was 3 years old, I used to march through the house and sing, “Yankee Doodle”. Except I had a special ending. I sang: “Stuck a Feather in his hat and called it macaroni…. and cheese!”
I remember watching Davy Crockett on Walt Disney. I sang the theme song all the time. My mom told me that when I was about 3 or 4 years old, I would ride a little wooden toy pony back and forth, back and forth, singing at the top of my lungs, “Davey, Davey Crockett, King of the wild frontier!”
I sang in grade school, junior high and high school choirs. I was in high school Madrigals three years. We toured Europe during the summer of 1971! In high school I fell in love with musical theater and played “King Arthur” in Camelot and “Enoch Snow” in Carousel. I entered college as a music major.
My voice teacher during high school had her Masters in Vocal Performance. She had recorded an album and was a well know singer and teacher in my hometown of Saint Joseph, Missouri.
Singing High Notes Was Impossible
During my lessons I realized I couldn’t sing past the E4 (the E above middle C) without yelling, straining, going flat or breaking.
I didn’t try for the lead character, “Billy Bigelow” in Carousel because I couldn’t sing the F4.
Another problem I had was I had no vibrato. My teacher said if I wasn’t born with it I didn’t have it.
In college I had two teachers who believed I could sing higher, but didn’t know how to help me do it. However, I knew from years of experience that E4 was the top of my range.
After my first year of college, I left for a two year mission to Los Angeles, CA, for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
While serving in Santa Barbara during Christmas of 1972, I was asked to sing a solo in our morning services. I was awful. I was pitchy, my tone quality was poor, and I embarrassed myself and the congregation.
It was a serious blow to my confidence. I felt very discouraged. I began to believe that I was not capable of a career in music and singing. I just wasn’t born with the physical abilities I needed to sing really well. How could I teach others if I couldn’t do it myself?
When I returned to college I changed my major. I didn’t sing a solo again in public for 25 years.
However, I greatly missed performing. I got depressed watching live musical theater. I felt so bad not being on stage and not singing. I felt these feelings frequently.
After college I married Judy and we had a large family of eight children. I went to work as a salesman in the medical-surgical field.
In the fall of 1996, my oldest daughter brought home a flyer from school announcing a vocal workshop with the Los Angeles Vocal Coach of the Stars, Seth Riggs. The flyer said he was Michael Jackson’s vocal coach!
My wife and I with our 3 oldest daughters attended the workshop with Seth Riggs.
Singing High Notes Was Impossible Until This Happened
Then a pivotal moment happened! We did this silly vocal exercise called bubble lips! Like this.
Wow…what just happened? I realized my voice just went higher than ever before, but it didn’t strain or crack. How could that happen without my voice breaking into falsetto.
The moment I felt my voice shift up into my head everything changed. Until that moment, I thought it was impossible for my voice to go that high.
I began studying Seth Riggs’ vocal technique. Gradually my voice began to transform.
Within several months I sang higher than I’d ever sung before. I discovered that E4 was a transition area leading to something called head voice. I sang an F4 in the song, “Maria” from West Side Story. It was like a miracle to me.
And I developed vibrato. It was another miracle! By fall of 1997 I was cast in the musical, “Phantom” by Maury Yeston.
Twenty-one years later I’m finishing my 40th show…most of them musicals. I’ve had the great blessing of performing many lead singing roles like Don Quixote, Peron, The King from “The King and I”, Scrooge, Captain Hook, and many more.
The joy and fulfilment I’ve experienced with my singing is something my family and I will always treasure.
Never give up on your singing and performing dreams. You can reach them!
Your own life changing moment might happen one day when you see a simple flyer from school, or a video on the internet.
Your singing and your life will never the the same.
I’m Chuck Gilmore with Power To Sing.