I am blessed with a fairly distinctive bass speaking voice. That was a good thing when public speaking was one way I made my money. My speaking voice opened up opportunities for me. It was part of the reason I wound up doing a short commentary segment on my local NPR station.
I’ve learned to use my speaking voice as an instrument. My singing voice is something else entirely. This is sad because I love to sing. I sing in the shower and in the car. I sing along with the songs on my phone. And I do it all very badly.
It’s not that I haven’t tried. I took voice lessons. I did vocal exercises. Nothing had much effect. As my final voice coach put it, between gasps of friendly laughter, I was “very, very, very bad.”
Bass Voice Lesson 1: Just because you are good at one thing, it doesn’t naturally follow that you will be good at something similar.
The investment in learning to use my speaking voice paid big dividends. The work I did on my singing was a lot of effort for very little result.
Bass Voice Lesson 2: You have a huge, untapped potential, but you cannot be everything you want to be. If that were true, I could be an opera singer.
Since that was beyond the reach of rational desire, my coach changed tactics. He helped me develop enough skill to sing in a choir, as long as I stood near another, more competent bass.
Choir singing opened up a whole new world for me. It gave me the opportunity to sing, with my off-key rumblings hidden under more competent voices. It opened a world of music that I might never have explored.