I think I was 9 years old. There was a test, a the higher the octave, the higher my voice went through a series of la le li lo lu’s. Mr Flax1 put me in the soprano section of the children’s choir. No! I wanted to be an alto. I wanted to sound like Margaret Smith, she could sing like Chaka Kahn and Janis Joplin. I wanted to sing the harmonies, I wanted to be the raspy voice alto. As kids, my brother and I had that clean, pure sound. Of course, he is now the raspy voice tenor. Me? Still soprano, but, in my magical mind, my life is raspy alto.
Sopranos carry the melody. That’s what you hear, that’s what you hum, that’s how you name that tune. The raspy altos bring something different. It works with the melody, but maybe a little unexpected. That’s me, most things are a little unexpected and I’m ok with that. This observation started as a prelude to a yoga class. I wanted people to know I’d give them the basic flow, the melody. However, if the people wanted to go alto, do something a little different to work with their range, have at it. Like, if you have to do falsetto the entire time, maybe take it down an octave and do something sustainable. You are doing yoga for you.
Which reminded me, I am living my life for me. So if I happen to go alto, e.g. boots work with just about every outfit, butter is a food group, check lists are life, etc, so be it. The natural conclusion isn’t, are you soprano (baritone) or alto (tenor), that would be trying to put you into my alto frame of reference. Since I am all about harmony, this week, consider, what’s your analogy for life? What works for your range?
1In the 1960’s Charles Flax, was honored as a Hampton’s Distinguished Citizen Medal. He was Hampton Institute Director of the Hampton Crusaders Male Chorus. There is an annual Charles H. Flax Memorial Concert at Hampton University in his honor. Mr Flax was a gospel recording artist in 1940’s.
Funny, how I can laugh now about what I did not realize at the time. This man was a world renowned artist evaluating my voice. Even letting me in the choir in the first place. …Ha and I want to be an alto. Such was my childhood, singing under the direction of Mr Flax in Clark Hall gazing at an infamous mural by Charles White.