My parents say I have been singing since I could speak. I can't really vouch for that, seeing as I don't have many memories of my earliest years but I do remember my first voice lessons. When I was 5 years old I would run around the house singing at the top of my lungs; Twinkle twinkle, Happy Birthday, and every other catchy song my young brain knew. I remember making up my own songs and my Dad stopping me because they were too repetitive! HAHA, at 5 the only words a song needed to be composed of were 'sunshine' and 'happy,' so I didn't understand what he was complaining about!
One day while I was walking down the stairs singing, my mother stopped me. She said, "Sarah, if you are going to sing, you have to take lessons." Of course, I was the ultimate Diva at that time, so I looked my mother straight in the eye and defensively said, "I DON'T NEED VOICE LESSONS!" Boy, was I wrong.
At the age of six, my Mom finally convinced me to take voice lessons and even though I felt apprehensive, I ended up falling in love. I looked forward to my voice lesson every single week. My teacher gave me the freedom to express myself with the alto-range belting songs that I enjoyed so much!
The first time I hit the stage for a recital, I knew I was hooked. It felt like I could finally breathe; like I had found the one place I was meant to be. Yes, I was nervous but the feeling of excitement overpowered my jitters. The hardest part about performing was leaving the stage because once I had broken through my nerves and began, I was insatiable.
The adrenaline rush I obtained from performing was like nothing I have ever experienced before. I knew from the moment I set foot on the stage that singing was my dream. When I was about 11 years old, my new voice teacher entered me in competitions. My first year competing, I placed 3rd in state. I was elated and I wanted more. The next year I didn't place at all and I was devastated. This didn't break me though, and instead I set my mind to practicing harder, like my life depended on it, and I was rewarded. My third year competing, I won 1st in state!
As I transitioned to middle school, I never stopped singing. Now I had the opportunity to join choirs! I took full advantage of this; I joined the Jazz choir, the Quartet, the musicals, the regular choir, and when I hit high school I put my all into Show Choir. I continued to challenge myself in competitions, recitals and shows. In my Sophomore year of high school I won Best Female Soloist in the state Show Choir competition. I couldn't have done this without the amazing teachers in my life that pushed me and guided me.
Sophomore year I also began working at a music store teaching voice lessons. I was only 15 when I started, but I had been taking lessons for 9 years and at this time and I felt that I was capable of passing on the knowledge I had obtained to others. Before this experience, I was convinced that I would go to college for music education so that If a singing career didn't work out for me, I could always fall back on teaching.
I don't know if it was the cranky boss or the kids who didn't really care about the lessons but I really didn't enjoy teaching very much. Because of this, I decided to reconsider my aspirations for a college degree. Along with that, my favorite choir teacher quit, and the teacher who replaced her actually discriminated against me for my beliefs. This was a very hard transition for me because up to this point, singing had been my life; singing was what defined me. I began to brainstorm alternatives because I was so discouraged with the way my musical career had turned out, but nothing felt right to me; everything felt forged.
I left for college and remained undecided for 2 years. During this time I started taking lessons with a wonderful woman in down town St. Louis. I found her online because her specialty was in the R&B music style, which is what I wanted to sing. When we first met, I told her, "I want to learn more techniques on how to sing R&B. I don't want any of that classical stuff that they make me sing at all of my other lessons."
She agreed but soon enough she had me singing classical music, and much of it in the soprano range. I was frustrated and angry until I realized what her intentions were. One day I came in and I said to her, "Look, I get that we have to do the exercises in soprano but I told you I don't want to be sing classical." She laughed and said "Sarah, I want you to do this exercise with me and pay attention." I did what she asked. She played a scale on the piano from low to high. When she got tho the high note she looked at me and said, "Do you see this note I just played? Three weeks ago you could not sing that note and you just hit it with no struggle."
Then and there I realized that even though I had been taking lessons for 14 years, I had more to learn. Today I am still taking lessons. I found an amazing group of musicians who took me under their wing, and are currently helping me to pursue my dreams. Singing has been, and always will be, one of the biggest pieces of who I am. When I sing, I am home. I can only hope that my singing will bring others as much enjoyment as it brings me.
l also hope that if you love something as much as I love singing, that you won't give up on it. If you work hard at it, a path will create itself. Follow your heart and follow your dreams. It is never to late to get started on what you were meant to be doing all along.