“Because you don’t have my voice”

A teacher of mine once told me about this anecdote that happened to him when he studied singing. One of his New York teachers, the famous Italian tenor Tito Schipa, one of the greatest tenors in history, once asked
– “Maestro, how do I make the same sounds you make? I can’t and I would like to succeed”
Schipa replied
– “You will never be able to, son, because you do not have my voice”.
He was impressed, and realized that, finally, someone had told him the truth, once in a lifetime.
Maybe not many of you know it, but Beniamino Gigli, another immense Italian tenor, once said that he did not teach singing because he was afraid of ruining the students’ voices, and do you know why? Because he would have expected, or almost expected, that their voices would make clear sounds
and wide in the high notes, which he considered very dangerous (whoever has been studying with me for a while, knows it), as his voice did. But he was Beniamino Gigli. This is the maximum intellectual honesty that I can think of a colleague.

Now, the situation is all here. I’ve got the same problem. Not only I do not have the voice of a Pavarotti or a Stevie Wonder, but I also have 2 sulcus (damned !!) on each vocal cord, with which I was born. So I have a technically imperfect instrument, that is, my cords will never ever close properly and with ease like those of a perfect voice. I will never have a voice as powerful as a Freddie Mercury, or like many of you.
Does this mean that I will never sing well? Not really ! It only means that I will not be able, if I am intelligent, to pretend to professionally sing the opera, or a certain type of Rock, but that for example my voice is perfectly suited to making a certain type of pop music, and Jazz, which happens to be, I adore. And that can excite, and have excited, many people.
I invite you to reflect on this, otherwise you will find yourself wasting a lot of time, maybe crying for an hour on a road in Los Angeles in the Hancock Park area, round trip, as one day it happened to me when I saw a girl of 8 years in class doing things that I could only dream of doing. I felt so low, tried to metabolize the defeat of having understood that I was “not so special”, until, a few years later, in hindsight I understood that my vision of the thing was distorted. I could not concentrate on the defects of my voice, or my guitarist hands, thinking “I will never be able to be like him”. It was smarter to focus on the talent I knew I had, and improve it with the aim of understanding the right direction to follow, because if I took the wrong one to insist on doing something for which nature had said “no”, I would have lost years absolutely for nothing. If nature had said “no” to my vocal “perfection” , there was a reason. It means that my path was simply different. It took a while to accept it, understand it, and use this awareness to my advantage. I have tried to apply this concept also to life.
Maybe nature has given me this imperfect voice also to teach other voices better (most of them, better than mine) correctly, I want to believe. I always thought that, as I am a selfish guy about some things, teaching has always been my way to be very altruistic.

Michele F.

PS For those who do not know what it is, the Sulcus is “an INVAGINATION of the mucous membrane of the vocal cords that adheres deeply to the vocal ligament thus preventing correct progression of the mucous wave during the phonatory vibration of the vocal cords.” (taken from fonochirurgia.it ). I have an invagination … see? I said it was a fortune!