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16 December 2007

Hearing Ourselves as Others Hear Us

I remember it well. I was in Jr. High, and the church musical was "The Mountain Singer" (in retrospect, a very dated-sounding one) and I had volunteered to try out one of the solos. The music director handed me the microphone and the time came when I was to start singing, "He came with the crowd to the river that day," and I got the words, "He came with the crowd," out of my mouth and pulled the mic away from my mouth in disgust. Did I really sound like that?! My friend Stephen Given wound up singing that solo in the performance. Later I regretted it just a little, but not enough to make me try to sing a solo again for a very long time.

Just a few years later, my 80's hair-metal garage band (to be unnamed here) was learning "You Give Love a Bad Name," and in spite of the fact that the opening group-of-guys-yelling vocals could be done by pretty much anyone, I couldn't bring myself to sing it out.

The first time I remember being able to at least tolerate the amplified sound of my voice was when I worked in a recording studio and we were doing some voiceover work. Another voice was needed, whatever the reason, so I read the part. It apparently worked, but I was shocked at how "redneck" my voice sounded, and was not able to listen to the final recorded product more than once or twice.

It took very concerted effort to get the southern drawl out of my voice as I continued to do some voice work here and there. I had never even known that I had any sort of an accent until those days. (Now that I've not done that sort of thing for a while, I'm sure it's returned.)

So what great, sage wisdom lies in this tale of my past insecurities? Don'ch'all know?

There are at least two:

1) Considering where God has placed me at this point in my life, I've learned first-hand that, hey, Ephesians 3:20 is true! "Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think."

2) Our lifestyle is first to be aligned with Christ, and in doing so He will bring to light (and change) those things that we are sometimes unable to see in ourselves; areas we need to adjust when we hear ourselves "amplified": "Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior." (Ephesians 4:31, NKJV) (And no, I'm not really equating a southern drawl to all those bad things...)


Leroy said...

Whatchew got against the 'redneck' voice?! Just because I talk slow don't mean I think that way! Ha, ha, ha! I don't think I've ever heard someone say "wow, my recorded voice sounds exactly like I thought I did!"

I think I've told you personally, but I'll post it for your three readers :) too...I've seen it evidenced in your life (among many others) how God can use mere mortals to accomplish His purposes when we surrender to His will.

PS - '80s hair bands rock!!! (even the garage type)

Jan Owen said...

Dean, I too can hardly bear (still) to hear my recorded voice whether I am singing or talking. I do fine WHILE I'm singing but cringe when it's played back. I think we just notice all of the little problems that in a live setting are quickly forgotten. I have another app for you. You mentioned getting rid of the old southern drawl. How about thinking of it this way - God uses all of our experiences, where we were born, how we were raised, our talents, etc for His glory. Obviously I'm not talking about not improving here! I'm talking about accepting things about ourselves that truly can be viewed as not only God ordained but also God used! I fought against my persornality for years - I thought all Christian women were mild mannered and soft spoken and gentle and above all - QUIET. (which I'm not) So I struggled to accept how God made me. Now I have learned to rejoice in many different things about myself - I am happy to be: a woman, raised in the south, a tad bit outspoken and talkative, gregarious and yet sensitive. For years I tried to "remove" parts of myself. Now I live with it and realize God uses it. This is probably not where you were going with this but it was what I thought of!

Ralph said...

Dean, I may have you beat about hating the sound of my voice. I had a really bad speech impediment as a kid and for years and years it was torture to go to speech class. I would say something in the tape recorder and then the teacher would play it back and show me exactly what I did wrong. From this I have learned to hear every little thing I pronounce wrong. Other's say differently, but I can hear the nasal lisp I've had since I was 4 in my voice everytime I hear it. Actually, only during this musical, when I could hear myself blast in the balcony did I notice that my voice didn't sound completely horrid. Maybe the fact that I was insulting some guy's mother in Italian (for all I know) masked the stuff that I look for in my voice.

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