Singing

There are subjects that I have experiences to share. More rarely I have something resembling knowledge to impart, although that might be the short sightedness of one new to this stage. After all, I thought I knew how to get dressed properly two years ago and now I laugh about it. What will I think in another two years? More laughter probably, but laughter, properly used is a very healing thing. I recommend many doses per day.

Tears also have healing properties. As women we have a good supply at the ready. I was watching 27 Dresses, a movie every guy probably hates and I was leaking tears at the happy ending because I am entirely sappy and have always been so.

I sing, I’ve always sung, not always well. I got my first guitar when I was a kid. I have no clue how old I was, but probably older than ten because I remember playing in my room and I didn’t have a room until my sister moved out. She moved out when she was about twenty and I was ten years younger, and I happily took over big sister’s room. I huge improvement over sleeping in the dining room. Me the dining table and a small chest of drawers.

I started singing when I was in grammar school. I tried out for the chorus and got in. The requirement was probably being able to face in the direction they pointed and open your mouth on cue. I unfortunately never made it to our first performance. I have a confused memory that includes an awareness of being kicked out of the chorus. No “Good King Wenceslas” for me!

In truth I thought I sounded ok and like so many who think such things probably didn’t. I only occasionally roped somebody into listening and they usually just backed away slowly before leaving town, never to be seen again. Well, times do change.

Some years later I learned some essential skills to be able to actually sing. I learned to properly monitor my own voice so I’d be on key and I learned to interpret what I heard to know what that sounded like. Despite all the humor above, my voice wasn’t inherently bad and while I was certainly never going to be singing as a pro I was just fine as an amature.

Male to Female transsexuals see no or very minimal pitch change from hormones. The vocal chords are thickened by the action of testosterone and the larynx also changes. The combination makes the voice deeper in pitch and more resonant that the female voice. For most MtF TS folks the concentration is on getting the voice far enough to not be a problem. They work on pitch, intonation, word choices, and what could be termed the “sing song” pattern usually present in women’s speech.

Surgery for changing voice is by most accounts somewhat dicey. At least I didn’t get any positive recommendations and for me, I was already at or near the top of the male range and just needed to bump up a bit and I was golden. I do have trouble on the phone at times but never in person. Surgery is way over kill for me.

Surgery also won’t help if you continue to talk with a male pattern, male resonance, particular male expressions and so on.

Singing brings a whole new set of problems to this table and I honestly don’t know what to do. My natural voice for singing is a tenor. Some women are tenors so from that point of view I’m actually ok. I can sing in Mary Chapin Carpenter’s range no problem. The question is what do I need to do to not sound like a guy doing so. Producing sung tones isn’t exactly like speaking, the resonances are controllable but I really don’t know what to do to remove the overtones and when I try I lose a lot of the character my voice has had.

For example, I spent more than a decade in our Temple’s choir, and for the last two years continued singing as a tenor and did not adjust my tone. When I’m singing in range after warming up I’m actually pretty astonished and some of the sound that comes out. It’s still there, I live in a loft apartment and when I sing with an open voice at the piano I can hear it come back to me. I’m not displeased by this, BUT

I also don’t have any real desire to show and explain my history to every person to come into temple. I can keep up in the upper register singing an octave up. My voice isn’t particularly strong there since I’m at best singing with a head voice. It’s possible it will get richer and bigger over time. The question is will that effort be worth it.

I have no answers here, just more questions. Maybe I should seek out a singing coach, maybe I should just sing as a tenor and let’m wonder, maybe there’s a way to sing as a tenor and be a woman with a tenor voice. I’d love to figure this out.

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