Monday, 14 September 2015

A conversation with my vocal coach

Because I am tone-deaf, I signed up with a singing school to address the problem a couple of years back. I’ve got an excellent vocal coach who has helped me to sing more and more on pitch. We sometimes talk and have such an intense conversation that we forget about singing and just yak on and on and on. Today was such a day and I thought I ought to share it with you because it contained so many insights and revelations it must be divine. I shall put headers for each section so that I’ll try to stay on topic.

On matchmaking and marriage

It all began when she tried to matchmake me with someone we both knew. I didn’t want to shatter her hopes that the guy isn’t my type so I just humoured her by listening to her theory of how people get together and end up getting married. She made quite a lot of sense and it isn’t anything new.

First people become acquaintances, and then friends. Then you hang out together with a large group of friends, getting to know the person more and more. Slowly you grow closer, and then you commit to one another in a relationship and subsequently marriage.

“You don’t want to stay single all your life do you?” she said.

On SDN* by the church

I then revealed to her I’d signed up for City Connexions, our church’s very own matchmaking service. It was more for fun than anything else, but I told her I was very disturbed by what they advertised.

Have a look:

One statement I didn’t agree with was this: “Marriage should be something that comes naturally along the paths of single Christians.”

Excuse me, are you implying that those who are unmarried are unnatural? 

And of course, my understanding vocal coach pointed out that firstly, those who never get married form a minority. Then, she clarified that just because something was not natural did not mean that the converse was unnatural. It was just less common.

“Perhaps they should have said that it is ‘more common’ instead of using the word ‘natural’,” and I was mollified. 

Of homosexuality and hormones

Throughout our conversation, she mentioned how men with lower testosterone levels became gay at least three times. I let it pass, but on the third time I asked her if she could tell me where she got that from.

She told me that she’d watched it on Discovery Channel. Or was it National Geographic? I can’t remember which. Anyway, she said the show she watched featured a pair of identical twins one of whom was gay and the other, straight.

Scientists proposed that in the womb, one had got a regular androgen wash and turned out male and straight, the other got an insufficient androgen wash which caused him to turn out male but gay.

Very interesting.

But what was more interesting was that she said that when the twins grew up, they measured their hormones and found out that the gay dude had more estrogen and less testosterone.

Now I cannot comment and I have to watch the original show to find out more, but the implications are endless.

Because if a shot of testosterone can stop one from being gay and becoming straight, then why hasn’t this been tried? 

Or has it? I don’t know but I’m gonna find out. (And that will make for an interesting blog post for another day.)

It is fascinating because I once remarked to my friend who’s a medical doctor that I suspected that I had higher than normal levels of testosterone than an average girl.

Trans voices

Which brought us to the next topic. 

I told her about how I found out about Aydian Dowling the heart-throb and how even as a trans male who is extremely buff, his voice did not change much from the testosterone and remained rather high-pitched compared to other trans guys who got onto T and I showed her a clip from YouTube. I took my comparisons from 2 different YouTubers Austen Hartke and Ty Turner before and after T. I must qualify that one’s voice quality does not indicate one’s masculinity or femininity although females generally have voices a touch higher than males.

I asked her if as a vocal coach she had trained any trans people, FTM or MTF, in singing. She said she hadn’t but had met an MTF singer in the industry. She commented that it was easier for FTMs because it you are developing forward and deepening your voice as opposed to MTF who cannot reverse the process.

I told her about Point 5cc, a company setup by Aydian Dowling to provide binders and stuff for FTM because there was a need to provide safe binders and stuff that wouldn’t cause one to faint or suffocate.

She looked at me in horror.

And I tried to alleviate the tension by saying that they wouldn’t be able to sing very well with binders on would they?

She said of course, when you crush the ribcage you cannot sing very well.

Inappropriate gender jokes by pastors 

I later complained about how Pastor Kong was insensitive about gender stereotypes and pointed out yesterday’s message where he said the following, and I paraphrase:

“Men can form friendships easily and become buddies but women, when they come together, they may appear friendly, but internally, they say to themselves, “That girl’s lashes are so long, they must be fake!”

And she interrupted me and said that it was a joke.

I was in disbelief and replied that it wasn’t funny.

She said it’s because she knows people who act exactly like that that she finds it funny and that I didn’t know such people and could not see the joke in it.

I couldn’t. And I was complaining to my good friends A. and T. about it yesterday who both reassured me that our pastor was just appealing to the mainstream by pandering to stereotypes. I was telling them that by his definition I could qualify as a man and I didn’t even identify as trans.

Well, I still don’t find it funny and think that it is equivalent to a pastor making such a joke:

“What did God say when he made the first niggers?

Whoops! Burnt another one!”

That is unbelievably racist and alienating and a sensible pastor would not dare dream of saying such words. Why then jokes on gender?


Ah well, I was at least consoled when Sun, his wife, signalled him to move on yesterday, probably agreeing with me. That is my sole consolation.

Alive or dead?

At some point in the conversation I touched on the fact that 40% of trans people commit suicide. I then asked her the question would be whether we want a trans friend who is alive or a dead friend in their assigned gender. 

She replied unequivocally, "Alive of course!" 

We should always choose life she said. 

I was heartened. 

Well then, that was a summary of our hour long conversation and I’ve done my best although certain things have been forgotten or left out. I thought it was a most interesting conversation and am glad I talked instead of sung today.

*Social Development Network: Singapore’s matchmaking agency run by the state

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