JenSop: The Singing Traveler!

Idealist. Dreamer. Singer. Explorer.

How Can I Keep From Singing?

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So here we are almost “officially” in fall.  I’m busy gearing up for the Christmas Caroling season and getting ready for my Disney trip next week.

The title of this blog post is the name of an old hymn that was revitalized by many famous folk singers a few decades ago.  (My favorite version is the Enya one, of course.)  The song has several versions of the lyrics, but for me, no matter the specific lyrics, it’s always had a message of finding hope in song.  No matter what happens – the joys, the sorrows – how can I keep from singing?  I must sing!

So with that, I say that I am also starting to sing again.

You might ask, “but why weren’t you singing, Jen?”

Well, some of you may recall that back in May I went over to do that last minute audition in Vienna – and got horribly sick on the way home.  I had the worst respiratory infection of my life.  The coughing was so bad some nights I literally couldn’t breathe – each breath made me cough.  It was torture.  And for the first time ever, I had a stabbing pain in my larynx every time I coughed.  Like I was being stabbed with a knife in my throat.  At the beginning of the infection, I couldn’t phonate at all.  Then after a few days of coughing up green crud, I was at least able to speak.  I still used my voice as little as possible.  And especially no singing.  (And all the doctor could tell me was that it was a viral infection and that I’d have to wait it out.)

Once my speaking voice got back to *almost* normal, I started singing again.  But my voice was weird.  It wouldn’t respond the way I was used to. I was especially having issues in the lower part of my mixed voice – just above the lower passagio.  (In layman’s terms, that’s the place where you have one of the breaks in your voice, between the different registers.)  Anyway, I kept my singing to a bare minimum as I was worried that something had happened during all that coughing.  (Yes, I probably should have gone to the ENT, but I think part of me was afraid of what I would find out if I did.  I decided to wait it out and just not do a lot of singing.)

In the meantime, I was missing out on auditions for fall shows.  Spring is when the auditions for fall shows often happen.  There were two auditions I especially wanted to do, but I couldn’t.  It sucked.

Before I knew it, two months had gone by and my voice was finally starting to feel somewhat responsive again.  Then I left for vacation.  As you all know, I had my week long cruise with my family and then three weeks in Croatia with Miloš, followed by a few days in Vienna.  Of course, five of us ended up getting sick on the cruise – I started feeling sick the day I was flying from Amsterdam to Croatia.  (My dad was the first one with it – he was sick the last few days of the cruise.  Then my mom…)  And before I knew it, I had a sinus infection for two weeks.  I kind of glossed over that in my other trip blog entries.  But let’s just say that the Adriatic Sea acquired a lot of Jen-snot over the course of those two weeks.  (I was blowing my nose about every five to ten minutes there for awhile.)  I was kind of hoping that being in all that salt water was like swimming in a giant Neti Pot – flushing out my sinuses every day until I got better.  But I did get better – so I could feel germ free for my last week in Croatia.

Now I’ve been home for a bit and I’ve started to build the voice back up.  The lower mix is working again, and there’s smoothness and even-ness between all my registers.  I’m going slow so I don’t over stress my cords.  I’m not in any shows now due to being sick when I wanted to audition.  And I’m not doing auditions here now, as most are for performances that take place next  year, and hopefully I’ll be in Europe to stay by then!  So right now it’s caroling season prep.  We always have a number of long gigs, which require a good amount of vocal stamina.  Plus, I always have some solo gigs in the mix with that as well.  And once I feel ready, it’ll be time to work my arias back into the voice so they can be ready when I’m overseas and I have audition opportunities.

I have to say though, it feels really good to be making awesome sounds again.  Really good.

“My life goes on in endless song
above earth’s lamentations,
I hear the real, though far-off hymn
that hails a new creation.

Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear it’s music ringing,
It sounds an echo in my soul.
How can I keep from singing?”

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Author: JenSop

One of my favorite quotes is, "If your dreams don't scare you, they're not big enough." I guess I've been a dreamer all my life - I set my sights high and then I try to reach the sky. Some might call me a naive idealist, but that's just the way I am. I believe in always taking the high road, I believe in true love, and I believe in treating people the way you want to be treated. If you put good out into the world, good will come back to you! Being the dreamer that I am, I pursued singing as my primary life's calling - I've got two degrees in classical voice under my belt, and I sing just about anything under the sun. I also love a good adventure. Over the past few years, I've done quite a bit of world traveling, and have even lived abroad for stretches at a time: mostly in Vienna (Austria) and Croatia. A few years ago, I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, and I became a travel agent who specializes in Disney vacations. (Seriously, I KNOW Disney - I've been going regularly since I was a little girl - and I LOVE it!) And with all my experience traveling and living in Europe, I'm becoming quite the specialist in that travel category as well. (And last year, I started working as a Tour Director in Central Europe!) As to the other juicy details of my life - I'm originally from Pennsylvania, I'm married to an awesome Croatian man named Miloš who is the BEST adventure partner a girl could ask for. (He's also an expert on knowing how to make me smile.) He's truly the love of my life! I've also had all kinds of other jobs along the way, besides singer and travel pro. (Which is pretty standard for those of us who went to school for music.) I've worked part time weekends as a Disney Princess look-alike for children's parties. I've been teaching for almost 20 years, and have lots of experience in retail and customer service. Oh, and I should also probably mention that I'm a huge Lord of the Rings/Star Trek nerd! :-) Let's all go along for an adventure, shall we?

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