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by admin

I went over to my brother’s place last night. He asked me, “What are you doing here?”

And I replied, “I’m here to practice.”

To which my brother responded exasperatedly with, “Why do you have to practice here?”

And I replied with a big smile, “Because you are the only family I’d like to torture!”.

My brother rolled his eyes, shook his head and resigned himself to his ‘doom’.

I responded by giving him the look that said, “Sorry, you really can’t choose your family and I love you too.”

Two years back, when I told my family I was getting married, they were so excited.

They had waited a long time for that….not for me to find my one true love, or for someone to love me. Instead, they’ve waited a long time for me to finally move out. They (my brothers) thought that the non-stop singing in the house would finally end when I move out – that I would finally go on and torture my husband and another family for the rest of my life.

But I’m a homie. What can I say? I love my family 😛

So, I still go back and see them often. And, I STILL sing them to death. I have an undying passion for music and singing, and an undying passion to annoy my brothers. Something of which I’ve only learnt best from them 😉

And this is the irony for most singers – while your friends and supporters may often call you up to sing on stage or insist that you sing some songs for them or their friends, the family and people who live with you often crave for silence, or for the absence of your voice. LOL.

And this is because the practising that goes behind the scenes when it comes to singing isn’t always a pretty sight (or a pretty listen). I’ve spent many hours not even singing proper songs, but just testing out vocal techniques and sounds as I was trying to improve my vocal control. So imagine endless hours of wailing sounds, or even animal-like sounds and ‘screams’ and growls…you get the picture. And I did this for many years.

My ‘lucky’ family.

My parents didn’t quite mind it, or perhaps they kept their silence because parents are supposed to have unconditional love for their kids. But why didn’t my brothers do anything about it, one might ask? Oh, but they did. In fact, when we were younger, my brothers would never hesitate to yell “shut uuuuup!”, or even hold down the piano notes (so I can’t play them while singing) or pull the guitar away from me. But over the years, I guess they’ve realised that the yelling has always fallen on deaf ears and that my skin was thick enough to endure their ‘distractions’.

I sang at all their weddings, though. Guess they don’t hate my singing that much, after all 😛

This wasn’t quite the case while I was in London, though. While I was living there, practising my vocals for many hours a day was especially hard. And this was because the flats I lived in had thin walls and my neighbours would always hear me. I drove them mad – some would stomp on their floors from upstairs (trying to give me strong thumping hints through my ceiling to stop), and some would text me and ask, “Was that you singing?”, also hoping that I would stop. Cats, on the other hand, would always visit me at my window sill, looking for the cat they thought they heard when I was practising – I’m not sure if that’s really a compliment or not.

All this was pretty awkward.

So, sometimes I would press a pillow against my mouth and sing into it. Or sing into my stuffed up wardrobe (I stuff it up with pillows and clothes). I’d also try to sneak into my cousin’s office over the weekend and even some weeknights, to practice at her workplace – just so I can have the space to get as loud as I needed to, to master the techniques I was discovering and experimenting with. I went over to her workplace so often that even the security knew who I was. They called me, ‘The Singing Cousin’.

I did all of this because I felt so self-conscious practising from my flat. It was really uncomfortable to know that someone was always listening to me whenever I practised, and that they would hear every weird sound, flaw and mistake that I’d make. I did get some praises from my neighbours every now and then, but it didn’t change how I felt – I just wanted some privacy when I practiced. Okay, that sounds really off – here I am, sort of ‘invading’ into their privacy while I’m saying I just want to have my own privacy? 😛

My point is, it’s easy not to care about what my brothers think back home, because they already think I’m weird from the moment I was born. However, to not care that my neighbours may think I’m absolutely crazy and that I’m officially the weirdo of the block…that’s just hard to do.

And that’s because like I said, the practising part isn’t always beautiful sounding. It’s almost as if one has to go through a whole lot of ‘ugly’ or ‘weird’ sounds to truly discover all the dimensions of his/her voice. I guess you could liken it to the ugly duckling who grows into a beautiful swan – the journey of finding your voice can feel very much like that.

Looking back, what I’ve learnt is, you may not see the end of the tunnel as you’re finding your voice, but it’s important to believe that you will get there – it spurs you on and keeps you at it, despite all the ceiling stomping your neighbours might give you 😛

That said, it would always be great if there was a space for you to practice singing comfortably. Somewhere where you can feel free to make mistakes and feel like you never have to hold back in singing. After all, holding back when singing, believe it or not, is one of the most common causes for vocal restrictions and bad technique.

So find your own space, if you can! But if not, you could always go to your brother’s place.

Or your cousin’s office.

Either ways, know that you’re not alone 🙂

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Tormenting My Brothers