Little Voice

In my lesson yesterday, I realized I was relaxing and becoming more comfortable playing in front of my teacher.  It might seem strange, but I did not consider the performance aspect of taking up the violin before I did so.  But now, every week I stand in front of a great violin player and play my violin.  I’m not a particularly shy person, but the first couple of times I know I was tentative – my playing is that of a beginner and I can’t deny having a bit of self-consciousness about it.  Yesterday, I warmed up for about 20 minutes before she arrived.  I think I’ll stick with that for a while!

Also yesterday, I was taking a karate class with a couple of teens.  Part of our karate is a Kiai!, or yell of spirit.  It’s a loud vocalization powered by an exhalation of the breath timed with a technique like a block or a kick.  My karate teacher was having us work on it, for good reason.  Many beginners struggle to produce a mighty sound – it takes timing and practice.  Many kids transitioning into adulthood also struggle to produce a mighty sound, even if they have been training for a long time.  I was training with one of each.

The beginner teen was a 15 year old young woman who often takes a class I teach, so I know that she really just struggles to coordinate the timing of the voice with the technique and the breath – self-consciousness is not too much of a factor for her.  I bet that in another year her Kiai! will roar.  The other is a junior black belt adolescent.  He has been training for probably six years, and I have known him all the while.  When younger, he had a fine young warrior’s Kiai!, but now, in the tween years, he’s gone inside himself like so many do.  He’s a wonderful, polite young man, but he’s virtually lost his Kiai!

Last night Michael, my partner, and I were sitting on the couch re-watching a charming British film called “Little Voice” – it’s the story of a young woman who is constantly demeaned by her mother, and she seeks refuge in the old crooners – Judy Garland, Billie Holiday, Shirley Bassey and the like.  In private, she is able to reproduce their vocal talent with remarkable accuracy, belting it out like a diva.  But when she speaks to others, she can barely muster a squeaky yes or no. By the end of the movie, of course, LV (Little Voice, she’s called) finds her voice.

Finding a voice is my wish for all.  In addition to karate, I teach self-defense workshops and intensive courses, and we talk a lot about using our voices to prevent conflict by setting boundaries for ourselves. People ask me if I have ever used my karate, and I say yes, all the time – speaking up for myself and others has become much easier for me over the past decade!  That’s not what they mean, of course, but it’s what I mean.  I’m having tons of fun adding my violin, squeaks and all, to my “vocal” arsenal.

Thanks for reading.

Ryan

One comment

  1. […] pursuit, so I am always quite taken when he comes out with an insight from the martial world.  I’ve written about our martial yell of spirit in the past, and as I described Teacher’s interest in expression to […]

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