I Felt like I Belonged

On Friday, I was involved in a music competition for school. In our school, we have five ‘houses’ and on Sports Day and other such activities, we compete to see who will win – which my house never does. I never got involved in Sports Day by doing sports because I’m lazy as hell; I only volunteered this year to help the younger years with non-sport related activities. As a result, I didn’t have much involvement with the house system before this year. For the second year in a row, a House Music event was held; it was the first I performed in and it couldn’t have gone better.

Although I sing, I hardly ever sing with school or in a group of people at school; I used to belong to chamber choir but I quit and because of that, I haven’t been asked to perform at concerts. I didn’t use my initiative to volunteer even this time: one of my best friends, Pine, who has been friends with me since the very start of year 7, is a music leader – a sixth former who helps organise concerts and gets things in order. She, along with the other music leaders from my house, suggested that I get involved because they knew I had a history of singing and performing. Without them, I wouldn’t have had the guts to want to be part of it.

When I was in choir, rehearsals were a weekly event for me; ever since I left, I had all days free. However, with house music, one day a week – mostly – was dedicated to rehearsing. I tried to turn up for every one and thanks to the house leaders’ brilliant organisation, things ran smoothly except for one piece – Skyfall – that had to be scrapped which was really sad. We had three other pieces apart from the song I was in, all of which I hadn’t heard before the day of the show.

You may be asking, “Yeah yeah but what was the song?” If you’ve ever heard of Walk Off the Earth on YouTube, we did a similar thing to their Shape Of You cover but instead performed Locked Out Of Heaven, using instruments that wouldn’t ordinarily be used as instruments. I was the main singer and another girl did some beautiful harmonies (she has a wonderful voice). The dynamic (excuse the pun) in the rehearsals was amazing: we laughed; we joked around; we tried things and if they didn’t work then they didn’t and we tried something else. It really instilled confidence in me because nobody thought I was shit. I also knew a bunch of people who were performing – Pine, Laurel and others from my year to name a few.

When the day of the competition arrived, I didn’t feel nervous. I had told my parents three days before and all my friends knew but I didn’t make it into a huge deal because if I had, I would have been terrified. In the last lesson, we went to a sound check and I heard the other performances. Along with Pine, I chatted to a friend in another house and I’ll call her Coral. We used to sit next to each other in music last year and that day and evening, we got so much closer – it made me happy. I was stunned by a girl in year 10’s voice; it took about an hour to run through our house’s pieces which all sounded incredible. The excitement I felt after the successful rendition of our song was nothing I can describe; I felt empowered. What made it better was that I found out that the blogger who goes to my school was going to be there. She’s a percussionist and I briefly spoke to her when we went out to see if the xylophone had broken. She’s the only person who I feel happy with calling me Elm in real life and so I always know it’s her. It really made it hit home that I was doing this and that someone who read my blog would also be hearing me sing.

Coral, Pine and I went back to Pine’s house to get ready: I hadn’t been to hers since Prom but I absolutely love her house and family. We ate pizza, bitched about people and cried with laughter; her sister did my makeup because I’m utterly useless and would end up looking like a walrus if I tried. Pine’s sister and I bonded over the fact that Pine shrieks when her sister tries to put eyeliner on her and is even more resistant to fashion and beauty than I am and that is why she’s my favourite thing ever. I got incredibly angry at one point whilst recounting a shitty situation that had happened to me and they were so supportive AARGHH I LOVE THEM SO MUCH! Sorry, I’m getting emotional…

As soon as we got to school, around 6:15, I started to feel jittery. As we’d gone into a random technology room, it was filled with people who I didn’t know, playing and singing and warming up (I may have done a cheeky bit of screeching – erm I mean singing – just to get my vocals vaguely in gear). After Pine and Coral had gone to tune their respective instruments, I did some breatheing and then talked to my ‘blogger friend’ for ages. It was so nice just to speak to her about everything and anything – I had heard from Pine that her piece was fantastic and so was excited to hear it because I’m a weird person who fangirls over music DON’t JUDGE ME!

Luckily, Coral and I went into the audience to watch some of the acts. On the way there, I bumped into Laurel (one of the two people I have feelings for, I don’t even know). We hugged and she grabbed my hands when I said I was nervous; I totally overreacted afterwards and then told Coral I might have a ‘crush’ on Laurel. Coral was totally cool with it (turns out she may be bi too so we had a bonding moment over that). I saw Laurel at various points throughout the evening too, most notably backstage where we sat together and just talked.

Everyone was so brilliant in their performances! My blogger friend’s piece was genuinely so lovely; I smiled the entire way through and cheered especially loudly at the end. Other great things included a fantastic guitar solo by a guy in my english class, someone singing who had the exact same range as me and a girl with the most adorable voice ever. Seriously. I was mildly sobbing. None of it made me feel intimidated; I just enjoyed people having a good time and I revelled in the atmosphere.

By the interval, I was a wreck. If you’ve ever seen me in my real life get nervous, I was rubbing my hands together and trembling like a leaf (again, excuse the pun). Because we had to be backstage whilst the house before us was performing, I was standing with some people like Laurel (we touched hands, hugged and sat near each other) – who had a break from organising things – when Willow turned up. I hadn’t seen her in months: she’d left last year to go to college and so when we saw each other, we screamed and ran at each other. She updated me on everything that had happened in her life within 15 minutes and at one point I screamed “NO NO NOOOO JUST DO IT DO IT!” and tried to convince her to do various things I won’t repeat; it ended with us practically sobbing and telling the other that we loved them. Lots of hugging was involved, too, until we had to stop because she had to go and sit in the audience. Even then, we hugged one last time: I love that girl; she’s amazing.

The buildup was horrible. I was listening to the first act in my house perform (I didn’t get to hear any of the performances really in the house before us). Standing behind the door of the stage, I tried to keep my eyes focused on the lights and listen to the drums to focus myself. Either that or I thought about Laurel and how much I was confused just to get my mind off of shit. If anyone says I’m confident I’ll laugh in their face.

Up on stage, all my worries seemed to flow out of me. It was bright and noisy and beautiful; I sang as if I couldn’t have cared what people thought of me. I had to check the position of the microphone a few times (I can’t see it because I’m almost completely blind) but apart from that, I was utterly enthralled by the sounds and feelings around me. I’d been singing this song quietly before but with a mic, I felt like I could do anything. Nothing went wrong and when the applause came, I think I smiled – I felt happy.

“You have a beautiful voice, Elm!” said Laurel when I was guided off stage. It’s a blur as to what happened then – I know she was with me and had her arm in mine, saying that I was shaking but seeming so pleased and as happy as I was. I emerged into the backstage area and grinned, giddy to the point of gasping. It’s been so long since I did any of that. Coral was there and we spoke for so long after, telling each other we were talented but refusing to believe it.

There were four categories in which we were judged – best solo, best duo and trio and best ensemble. We won 2nd place for the latter AND I WAS SO HAPPY!!! Granted, I was incredibly confused when I was pulled up onto the stage, blinking in the light. Previously, I had been talking to Coral and the blogger friend, not knowing what was happening because we couldn’t hear, cramped at one point in the backstage area with a bunch of people screaming and the music teachers yelling at the screaming people.

Also, we won overall??? I have no idea how that happened either but our music leaders were fucking amazing. I’m irritated that the xylophone group – in another house – didn’t come first for ensemble because they deserved to but I will always remember how amazing that was. That night was about talent, beauty and showing people you could really get out there.

I got home late but the sleepless night was worth it. The next day, I went and saw L, going on the train by myself and having the best time ever which I needed after a stressful week. You can read all about our misadventures here because he’s a much more articulate writer than me. All in all, I’ve had an amazing weekend where I’ve felt like myself. L very much helped with that because I hopped on a train with very little nerves and travelled across London without falling over or screaming.

Coral said something to me that evening. “There are so many powerful voices but sometimes, people need to hear the pretty voices. You need to get out there and show them.” She’s right: when I did, I felt beautiful, alive and like I had a purpose.

It was one of the best days in recent memory. Do you have days like that?

From Elm πŸ™‚

Another Cover – I’m Proud of This One!

Heyy!

I’m sort of dying inside because I spent ages recording this, getting the volumes right and then being a perfectionist and being paranoid that it was terrible. Luckily, I kicked myself into shape and got a second opinion before posting it.

This is a cover of Little Do You Know – a song I adore, and which I’ve been wanting to sing for such a long time. One of my friends (she’s blind and from America, and has a beautiful voice) helped me to record this by giving me tips when I was freaking out about not being able to do anything with technology, so thanks so much!

You can find it here and I really hope you enjoy it. It’s not perfect, but nothing is, and I’m happy with it which is what matters.

It’s also rekindled my love for singing, if that’s possible; I now feel inspired to do this more often, as well as to do other work. It makes me happy.

Because of this, tomorrow, uI’m going to start working to my full potential. I’ve been lax recently, and very very unmotivated, so that NEEDS to change.

From Elm πŸ™‚

La La La – My Return to Singing

A long long time ago – actually more like 6 months ago – I posted a cover on my excuse for a Youtube channel and since then, haven’t posted any more.

That is, until now. I’ve missed singing – it’s not that I’ve not sung, it’s that I haven’t sung to you guys in such a long time. Because you can’t see my face, or me in real life, you’re only going on what my voice sounds like and I love that. It’s a wonder that I haven’t done this sooner, but life caught up with me and kind of sucked away my motivation to do much.

So, here you go. I sang Riptide by Vance Joy, and I adore the song: you can’t really sing a song you hate, or at least I can’t.

Apologies for the crap audio quality; I have no recording software which I can access, which makes me very sad. Oh well – it’s better than nothing – and my perfectionist nature will have to deal with it.

I really hope you like it. I tried recording it several times, and eventually just went with the last recording I did because I was picking my voice apart too much.

From Elm πŸ™‚

I Thought I Couldn’t Do It

Despite the fact that a substantial amount of people say I can sing, I often don’t believe them. It may be my in-built urge to dismiss any compliments that people give to me, and to try and prove them wrong, or because in my mind I tell myself that I can’t accept that I’m good at SOMETHING. Whatever it is, it causes me to laugh whenever anyone says I’m a good singer, and to only sing around people when I really, really want to or when I really trust them.

Today, I did something that shocked me a little, something I would never expect myself to do. I sang to strangers over the Internet.

Alright, they’re not REALLY strangers. I got added to this group chat on WhatsApp a week ago, with the majority of the people there being blind and teenagers, but from all over the world. So England, Germany, America, South Africa to name a few places. Apart from two people, I didn’t know anybody well; I’d been lurking in the chat for a while and alongside another group, with many of the same members, I’d read messages from the various participants. I didn’t often say much until today, just the occasional “Hi!” or messages to that effect.

I was bored today, and though I should be packing for Thailand, I decided to read what the people were saying on the group. Originally, I didn’t plan to join in, but the conversation turned to music and singing. That, I had a passion for, and so I took more of an interest because I knew that if I talked, I wouldn’t feel like an outsider.

One of the girls from Germany sang on a voice message. As I said that she had a great voice, some kind of urge took hold in me. If she could sing, why wouldn’t I? I still refused to think about it though, the nervous excitement buzzing through my body preventing me from forming any coherent music. Further discussions ensued, with another girl – one I knew vaguely – singing as well.

We spoke about instruments and music, and all through this discussion, people were encouraged by others to sing: “If anyone can sing, why not show us?” I said I would, as a sort of joke, but it was only until people shared how they liked to sing that something snapped. Oh fuck it, I thought. What’s stopping me?

Nothing stopped me but my fear. I took deep breaths, practicing a little before I sent the message. However, I soon realised that even if I DID mess up, it was alright: the exact words I thought were, “You don’t know these people, and you’ll never have to meet them. You’re just another person, who CAN sing, and you should be proud.” The thumping beat of my heart quietened a little.

I sang “Can’t Help Falling in Love” – you can find a cover that I did of that song a while ago here – shameless self-promotion I know. Because I absolutely love the song, I found it relatively easy to sing: I may have messed up a couple of times, when I couldn’t reach the low notes, but that was down to my nerves.

When I listened back to it, after I finished, I felt strange. For once in my life, I realised that I COULD sing. There was hardly any disgust when I thought that, because I didn’t feel arrogant. I felt, and still do feel, slightly in awe that I managed to get the courage to do THAT.

The response was really positive. It’s rare that I truly thank someone, especially a group of people I don’t know, on a voice message. This time, the “Thank you, that really means a lot to me,” easily passed my lips, and I felt no fear that they’d find me too weird.

These were people who I didn’t know. The people who would listen to my voice message I had not really spoken to before, so to display something that I’m usually shy about to them was stepping hugely out of my comfort zone. Yes, I may have things up on youtube and will sing when people request me to, but I often feel so much more nervous and upset that they’d think I was shit.

Even if it IS scary, do something that you wouldn’t normally do from time to time. You will feel so much better afterwards, more so if it’s something you love.

Don’t let fear hold you back. I wouldn’t do this every day – sing to random people – and once was enough for now. But I know that I CAN do that, if the situation arises, and that I shouldn’t let my worries dictate what I do. If you take nothing else from this post, remember that you’re the one in control of what you do and don’t do.

Singing is something I love. It’s something that’s mine, and I haven’t been doing it so much recently: something I hope to rectify. Instead of shattering my confidence, this situation has boosted it.

I have a smile on my face, and I hope that it won’t fade any time soon.

From Elm πŸ™‚

I Did a Cover

Hey guys!

Throughout the day, I’ve been having no motivation to post, but about an hour ago I got in the mood for singing. The song, Can’t Help Falling in Love (originally by Elvis Presley) is a song that I adore, because it means a lot to me emotion-wise and all that.

You can find the cover here, but before you listen, I need to explain a few things.

Recently, I’ve started to really dislike my voice. I don’t know why: people tell me I’m a good singer, but I guess because self-hatred is a great companion of mine, I find reasons to disagree with them. I ALWAYS think I sound terrible. I know that I can’t sing high, because I sound like a chipmunk or just STUPID. But because I love this song so much, I thought, “Oh FUCK it! Why CAN’T I record it? I might as well.”

I’m not trying to get pity. When I was trying to record, I felt so frustrated because my high notes were – and ARE – weak, and it upset me a little because I thought that I couldn’t sing at all and that I just sounded strangled or not strong enough. I re-did it about 5 times because I’m a perfectionist.

Yes, it’s not perfect. I sound like I have grains of sand in my throat at one point, and I was using my phone plus a computer instead of a real microphone. I know all that, and though it pisses me off that it’s not PERFECT and parts of it aren’t good, I’ll just have to deal with it.

That’s what I want YOU to get out of this post. There are times when you’ll think that shit is pointless, and you can’t do it. That’s what happened with me and my singing today, because I got frustrated and angry that I just COULDN’T hit that note.

But try it. You might not think it’s necessarily GOOD, but you’re putting it out there. I put it up there to prove to myself I COULD. I love singing; it makes me happy. I can’t love it if I hate my own voice – and though I sometimes can’t help that, I can’t love singing EITHER if I never, ever show people what my voice is like. I can’t love it if I never take the chance to sing a song I like, and record it with WHATEVER crappy thing I have.

I did it and I’m happy. It’s not perfect, but I did it, and it’s ME.

I really hope you liked it, but not because of the symbolism. I hope you liked it because I HOPE it was good. Screw all my pretentious crap for a second; music is just music, no matter how much I had to record it or how frustrated I got.

Doing something you love shouldn’t come with a “Oh but I don’t like THIS aspect of it.” I’m doing it to show you, and myself, that we’re all human. Things aren’t perfect, but take pride in that. It’s important that you know your flaws, but with every flaw comes something amazing.

I won’t say it was “challenging” for me to put it out there. I’m confident enough that I can actually post a video without getting terrified. It was just the fact of proving to myself that I was able to actually SING that was a bit tricky. But I did it.

Take that step, to do something you WANT to do. Prove to yourself it’s okay, and no one else, cause you’re the only one you answer to right now.

From Elm πŸ™‚

Me Singing and Stuff

AHEM. About to die of embarrassment here.

Way back when, I asked you if you wanted to hear a video of me singing. In my last voice recording, I showed off and was arrogant and did a LITTLE singing, but that was just meh. So, at the risk of sounding like a moron…

Here it is

I hope you like it. There are a few bits that piss me off, but I’m trying to be happy with it. I promised you guys this, and it’s been TOO LONG.

This whole annonymity thing is failing…

Do any of you sing?

From Elm πŸ™‚

AHHH QUICK QUICK QUICK

HEYY, five minutes before the end of Saturday EEEEE NEED TO KEEP TO SCHEDULE!

Here’s my latest voice recording – um, I mean, the SECOND one. You can hear it here. Sorry about the weird microphone sounds Uuurgh.

I hope you have an amazing week!

From Elm πŸ™‚

Eeekk

OKAY, I’m back from camp, and I’m so tired that I can’t think. As in I ACTUALLY CAN’T THINK PROPERLY. It was hectic and drama-filled and tiring and uuuuugh.

Anyway, this is just a quick post to say it’s your last day to participate in the Exquisite Corpse Game. I’m going to either disable the comments late this evening, or just post a message to remind you not to add to the story any more. Sad times, I know. But can I just say, I LOVE IT SO MUCH SO FAR. You’re all awesome.

Oh! You know that voice recording I did? Should I make it a weekly feature – the ONLY thing I schedule, ever, OMG WHATTTTT

Also, should I record myself singing?

I hope you’ve had an amazing week. If you haven’t, you can always talk to me if you need to, or blog about. it, or talk to a friend or family member. Don’t suffer in silence, because the world needs to hear your voice.

From Elm πŸ™‚