Saturday, February 19, 2011

I Love to Sing

I love to sing.  It is one of the things I do that make me the person that I am.  I have been singing almost all of life.  I remember singing in kindergarten the song Heart of My Heart.  I liked the song so much that one time I got up at a restaurant where there was someone playing a piano.  I asked him if he would play that song while I sang it in front of everyone there.  I would not dare do that today, but kids have no fear, or maybe I just didn't know any better.  I don't think I knew all the words to the song.  I would have not made it to American Idol.

In third grade I joined my first choir, the Cadet Choir, at my church.  In school, they would sometimes let me sing a solo.  I was in the youth church choir starting in seventh grade through senior high, and I sang some solos in church as well.  Now don't start thinking that I am, or was, a great singer.  I am not a great singer, but sometimes I do have my moments.

As an adult, I sang in church choirs, and I sang in the Manassas Choral Society (they no longer exist) and in the Manassas Community Chorale.  They let me sing solos as well and in small groups.  I really enjoy singing in small groups where just a few singers are making music together.  I like the team aspects of singing in a small group.  You must blend together to make a good sound.  There can be no divas in a small group.

I am not singing with any choir or group right now.  I have had an issue with my hearing this year, and I have had to drop out of my church choir, the Trinity Singers, who sing at the 8:30 service at Trinity Episcopal Church in Old Town Manassas.  Let me explain what happened.

First of all, I am completely deaf in my left ear.  My hearing has been that way all of my life, probably from birth.  I have never made a big deal of it.  I actually have been more embarrassed by it, so I have always tried to hide it by having people be on my right side.  When singing with others, I make sure everyone is on my right side.  My hearing in my right ear is not 100% either, but it is good enough (I know one or two people who might debate that).  As a result, I usually do not have a problem hearing someone unless they are on my left side or are speaking away from me.

Last May my church choir was rehearsing in the sanctuary when the organist hit a couple of notes on the organ really loud.  He did it by mistake, but the result was I started to have hearing problems in my right ear.  There was a roaring in my ear, and sounds started to sound distorted.  It was like I was missing some frequencies.  I finally went to an audiologist to have my hearing tested.  She found that I had some low frequency loss.  She recommended that I see an ear, nose, and throat doctor so that an MRI of the ear could be done in order to determine perhaps the cause of the hearing loss and the roaring.  I was able to get a prescription for the MRI, but I did not get the MRI done right away because I do not have health insurance. 

In September, my hearing started to improve.  The roaring became less and less, and the distortion started to decrease.  One Saturday morning I woke up to find my hearing was back to normal.  There was no roaring nor distortion.  I told my audiologist about the improvement, and she told me to wait a few weeks before making another appointment to have my hearing tested again.  Meanwhile, I did not rejoin the choir, but I continued to go to the 8:30 service.  I just stayed in the back of the church so that the music, especially the organ, and other sounds were not so loud. 

However, I had a setback.  At the 8:30 service one Sunday, the organist hit a loud note on the organ, and I started to have the same problems with my hearing.  I was not so worried this time.  My hearing had come back before, and I trusted that it would come back again.  I made one change though.  I quit going to the 8:30 service, and now I am going to the 9:45 service where the piano is played only and the organ is not played.  My hearing has indeed come back again, but I am being very careful not to be around loud noises.  I miss being in the church choir with my fellow singers, but I cannot risk losing my hearing.  I can go without being able to hear in one ear, but not in both ears.

When I think about it, it is amazing that I am a singer at all.  Even at my best, my hearing is just okay.  I probably miss some sounds that I am not aware of.  I do have a tendency to sing louder than I should.  I may do that to compensate for my hearing.  Over the last few years, I think I have done a better job of not singing so loud.  When I sing a solo, I will sometimes sing a little loud, which makes my pitch go a little sharp.  I have to concentrate on not singing loud, and I have to realize that I do not have to sing loud for people to hear me. 

I do not know what I am going to do about singing again.  I certainly cannot sing when the organ is being played.  Even though there is no organ playing at the 9:45 church service, I still am sitting in the back of the church.  I sing along with songs on my CDs or songs being played on the radio, but that is not the same as singing with others in a choir or a small group.  I love to sing, but I also love to hear.  I am very thankful that I can hear.  My singing with others will just have to be on hold. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I am Changing Lives

As you may know from reading my previous posts, I am a GED teacher.  I help people get their GED diplomas.  This week I found out that two more of my students from my GED Math Only Class took the GED test this past weekend and passed.  That means at least five students that I know of from that class have earned their GEDs.  That certainly makes me feel good, but this will have a much greater impact to the lives of these students.

One of these students who passed the GED test this past weekend has been working to get his GED for seven years.  His father once told him that he was not smart enough to amount to anything.  Despite this and a lot of other obstacles, he did not stop going to classes, and he kept on working to get his GED.  He has always wanted to be a mechanic, and now he can get the training he needs to be a mechanic.  He has other paths he can also take.  He can get a better paying job, or he can go onto college.  With his GED in hand, he now has choices in life.

The other student who passed the GED test this past weekend came to my GED Math Only Class Tuesday night with her two children to tell me that she passed the GED tests.  She now wants to go onto college.  She also now has choices of what to study and and what she wants to do for a career.  She has choices in life.

What better job can one have than a job that impacts people's lives in a positive way.  By helping them obtain the knowledge that enables them to have choices in their lives, I am having a positive impact on their families and the community as well.  I would have to look hard to find another job that does the same thing.  I also enjoy teaching them and working with them.  I will not get rich doing this, but I am rewarded in so many other ways.  I feel very fortunate to be making a difference.