by Teru Lundsten
Last fall, at age 61, I began to learn to sing for the ﬁrst time in my life (not counting my participation in mandatory elementary school choirs). The idea that I should learn to sing niggled at me for years, but I didn’t know whether or not I could carry a tune, and the prospect of singing terriﬁed me. I was one of those people who mumbled “Happy Birthday.”
Finally I realized that my terror was a reason to try it—to run toward my fears.
It helped that I saw a sign that read, in bright pink letters: SING. It was like a kick in the pants, almost an order. Okay, okay, I thought, I will! A person’s name and phone number were printed below the order to sing.
I dialed the number and with trepidation I signed up for my ﬁrst lesson with Lisa Grace. Shortly after that lesson I attended a friend’s birthday party and belted out “Happy Birthday.” I had made progress already. Ever since I have been studying with Lisa, about three times a month. She is warm, upbeat and encouraging—and extremely knowledgeable. Every lesson is an awakening. Lessons begin the moment I walk in, and they ﬂy by. They are a pleasure, even when I squawk.
Now I wonder what it was that I feared. Singing releases something ineffable that was locked inside me. That is enough gratiﬁcation for me. I have no career aspirations as a singer.
In the spring Lisa had me write a song, coaching me through process, then urged me to perform it in a student concert.
“But I’m not ready,” I said.
“You should perform before you think you’re ready,” she said. “It’s the only way you’ll learn.”
She convinced me. On June 20, along with twenty other of Lisa’s students, I performed outdoors at the Heart of Anacortes, a lovely new performance venue located on the northeast corner of 4th & O (owned by the City of Anacortes). Although I was a bit nervous and hit a couple of ﬂat notes, I enjoyed performing and got lost in the song. At my age I thought, What have I got to lose?
Lisa’s other students include several adults, but mostly teenagers and children, some very talented. I wasn’t Taylor Swift, Tierney Sutton or Kiri Te Kanawa, but I don’t think I split anyone’s ears either.
Afterwards a teenage boy sought me out and complimented me on my performance. That was a boost! Maybe I’ll do it again.
Thanks much to Lisa Grace for her ongoing instruction, inspiration and friendship, and for urging me to participate in the concert. Thanks also to Chris Terrell of How It Works for collaborating with Lisa to make the concert happen. May the Heart of Anacortes beat on.