Weekly Note #9

Weekly Note #9

This is my ninth Note. I started this project ten weeks ago, and during those weeks I have felt my connection to my music grow. I have felt myself grow as well, because the writing in itself is highly reflective and I am discovering things about myself I had never looked at from up close. I call myself a singer these days, instead of someone ‘who sings’. I talk about my plans and I act upon them. Simultaneously, I have found a certain peace enabling me to allow things to unfold as they will, without forcing them. Every week, after publishing my Note, I focus on letting it go and giving my attention to the next one – regardless of the number of likes and comments it received. There are days when I wonder if anybody would care at all if I were to stop doing Notes today. But of course, the answer would be that at the very least, I would care. And that alone is reason enough for me now to keep going.

It was kind of a ‘thing’ for me, committing myself to my music, for better and for worse. That is why I got slightly frustrated when I started noticing that my voice tired quicker and more often, and my throat started hurting after singing and even after conversations and book time with my son. WTF? I had only just decided that I was going to take my voice seriously, and now this? Nonsense! My go-to strategy (also known as ‘the ostrich’) surprisingly did not work very well, so to the doctor it was. A week later I found myself at the office of an ENT-specialist, with a camera down my throat (standard procedure would have been through the nose, but that wouldn’t fit – so now I can add the fact that I have a very narrow nasal passage to all the things I have recently discovered about myself. Ouch.) Thankfully, she didn’t spot any damage, and my discomfort was due solely to hypertonia – muscle tension in the larynx. But how was I going to get rid of this? The easy answer to that question is that I get to go to a multidisciplinary voice team that is going to coach me all over the place. But there is never only an easy answer to questions like these.

So I dived in, so to speak. One of the things I noticed was that the more Flemish I sounded, the more my throat ached. A bit of background information: I grew up in Lelystad, near Amsterdam – where both my parents came from. So that’s how I sounded when I settled in the Friendly South of the Netherlands fifteen years ago, although moderately so. The longer I lived here, and especially after I hopped the border to Belgium, my g’s started to get softer, my r’s throatier, and my tone more melodious. The way they speak in Amsterdam is far to the front of the mouth – Flemish is spoken way more to the back, in the throat. Small wonder that that became a spot of bother for my voice. For Flemish folk, however, it is not always easy to understand a Dutch person, and the more Dutch I sound, the more likely I am to hear ‘what did you say?’ during a conversation. So I try and I try to speak as clearly as I can to make it easy for everyone to understand me, and I am slowly killing off my voice in the process. Hold on… So I am so eager to be understood that I am willing to go to any length to make it happen, even if it causes me physical discomfort? Even if I have to change my voice, the very thing with which I manifest myself in this world? Ouch again. Did I mention that I keep discovering things about myself…?

(There’s no video with this Note. But here’s a homemade pepernoot. You’re welcome 🙂)

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