Now I've never really noticed that having to sing solo helped. We learn by singing along with.
Anyway, I was most often ridiculed and even disciplined for my lack of singing ability. One time sticks in my head. My husband was in our house - now he was a just a teen that I was really, really interested in at that time - and we were singing. I had messed up (again), so they told me to stand up and sing it solo so I would learn to do it right.
Ok, there only is one thing more embarrassing than having to sing a solo when you can't sing, and that is to have to sing it in front of your boyfriend while people either glared or laughed at you. By this time I was thirteen, and I had had enough! Really enough.
I decided that I was going to stop this here and now. I gambled that they would not spank me here - not in front of this teen they were discipling.... and if they did, it wouldn't be that bad of a spanking.... so I was going to say no. I simply said no. I was threatened, but I said no again. Quietly. I didn't want to defy authority really, but I was simply done being belittled that I couldn't sing. I said no.
I was right - they didn't spank me in front of guests for that, and I had won my freedom. Never again was I publicly asked to sing solo because I couldn't sing. I was still ridiculed but only in comments. "You can't carry a tune in a bucket." "If you sang, people would pay you to stop."
At some point, I decided to stop singing. If I was so bad that people would run screaming, I just was not going to sing. I began to only mouth words in church and never sing. I went through three years of Bible school like that. I got asked to leave a mandatory choir when I simply would not open my mouth to sing for the choir director. (I babysat for the choir instead. I am good at babysitting.) My friends told me I can't go through life without singing, but I was determined. I would not be ridiculed again.
Years later, God asked me when I was going to sing to Him, and I told Him when I have my first child, I will begin to sing. Later, after my first daughter died and I had more boys and never another girl, I told God that if I had a daughter, I would even sing when I taught kids Sunday school. I would even sing in public.
My first son was born.... he was perfect. And I opened my mouth and began to sing to him. I even opened my mouth and began to sing in church because God reminded me of my promise. I still couldn't sing and tried to maneuver in church to sit in front of a strong singer so I could follow along and behind an empty space so no one would have to suffer for hearing me. But I sang.
The years went by and I grew more confident, but never relaxed about singing. Only in the car with only my kids would I sing loudly and fearlessly. I figured I was off key, but I gave birth to them - they have to endure me. They sang loudly and cheerfully alongside of me. In fact, they thought I sounded great! But what would they know.
Then my son, the one like me, joined choir in high school. Choir?! As in sing in public? I wanted to tell him that he can't sing - we're no good at that, don't you know? But I was silent. I told him to go ahead. He did. He sings ok. Even decent.
Today, in church, I stood there happily singing. Next to me was my son with his deep strong voice singing with all his heart. And I sang along. As I sang, I thought something.
He's easy to sing with. His voice is like mine.
You see, my mom sings with a warbling soprano. My voice is a low alto. All these years, she had been trying to get me to sing like her. I will never sing soprano, let alone a warbling one! I am the deep voice, the shadow, the quiet pool, not the bubbling brook. It was a friend who let me understand that. I told her I don't sing because I sing horribly. She teaches music, and she said, "you don't sing badly - you just sing a low alto. You just have to learn to sing your own song."
I can't say that I believed her. Not totally. But I thought about it. I stopped trying to sing the high part. I don't sing the ladies section of songs anymore. I can't. But it wasn't until I heard my son's voice that I understood. He's got a beautiful voice. But it is deep. He can sing his section - deep and strong. When he giggles and tries to sing the other parts, he sounds horrible.
I just needed to learn to sing my song, not someone else's.
And you know what - I actually can sing. I sing ok. My son and I sing together, and I smile. This is what I was created to do - sing low and deep, and I like singing now. Once in a blue moon, you'll even catch me singing all alone, quietly, in public while I work.
I promised God that I would sing when my son was born. I didn't know that it was my son who would give me my voice back.