Afternoon Delights

This week I finally saw Pitch Perfect. Not only was it hilarious, but the music was really good. A capella is a hard genre because so many people do it poorly. Music has always been a part of my life. My mother unsuccessfully tried to teach me how to play piano (an item still on my to-do list 20 years later), and I was in choir groups as a child. When I went to high school, I joined Afternoon Delights, an a capella group at my all-girls school who sang classics like Teach by Crosby, Stills and Nash, and of course our Starland Vocal Band namesake.

Then my junior year my vocal teacher refused to work with me any longer, and I discovered I had cysts on my vocal cords. Two surgeries and three months of silence later, I was in no singing condition. Add in a dash of aca-politics and I put singing on hold. This from the girl who spent most of 1998-2002 imagining she would be the next Britney Spears, at the beginning, before the crazy years of course. I even auditioned for American Idol in 2005, which went nowhere but was an interesting experience.

I never joined an a capella group in college and I wonder if I should have tried. My sophomore year the first boys-only group started on campus and I did my best to support them. Finding myself back in love with a capella thanks to Pitch Perfect, I’ve been thinking about what stopped me. Was I too scarred from my falling out with AD’s new leader? Clearly girl-politics didn’t scare me off completely, I joined a sorority (one founded by music students with music at its heart even 125 years later) my freshman spring and still love it. Was I using my surgery as an excuse to not put myself out there? Did I feel weak?

But the bigger question is, why couldn’t I find the dedication to do the exercises I had been given to strengthen my cords and sing again? My vocal doctor was the same one who worked on Julie Andrews. Clearly he knew what he was doing, she kept singing until only a few years ago. If I had been a better post-op patient, could I have moved past my prior limitations and really gotten into performing?

At the end of the day, singing wasn’t something I wanted to sink my precious collegiate time into. If I had felt passionately about it at the time, I would have auditioned. Perhaps I can find a way to get singing back in my adult years. The fact that I regret that decision so many years later means it was probably the right decision at the time. The big thing is to finally teach myself vigilance. Being a pop star may be completely out of reach, but I have other dreams and paths that are still open to their success.

What has hindsight shown you lately?

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