Don’t You Ever Give Up! My Everyday Mental Breakfast

The days passed while I kept trying to do it right. Dark circles around my eyes and pastiness did not wait to appear. Teachers at school even worried about my health, they thought that maybe something not very good was happening to me, but then they got confused, when for some strange reason for them, I could not stop smiling. And look!… how wonderful things brought music to my life! …Those days I did not receive the best treatment (I should better say I received the worst one) of someone I used to frequent daily but should tolerate to achieve my goal…my dream…

Things at home were not good and my guitar accompanied by my voice only worsened the situation, but at the same time, they became the best reason to keep the shine in the eyes and not to let the tired face devour my smiling mouth. On the contrary! No matter how gaunt I could look, I performed much better at all! Since… among other things, also studying made me happy (believe it or not haha! I know it sounds weird) while gave me a hope of, perhaps, getting a scholarship in a degree . That would be a great way to get my own money and thus go everywhere and anywhere to do everything I ever wanted to do with no one who one could ever criticize or humiliate me for doing what I started to love my way.

The chords kept sounding and the voice intoned every day with a little more harmony to them. Even so, the painful comments that came from my family would not stop… “When will we have peace in this house?” … Continue reading “Don’t You Ever Give Up! My Everyday Mental Breakfast”

Dreams Cannot Fall Apart…No Matter What  

Sometimes you think things can’t get worse… but they really can.

As I told you my daily journey was exhausting, and the dream of becoming a singer was still on, but the discouragement did its best to reign in the way with every crude word I heard from Sergio’s mouth.

“My ears don’t simply bear your hideous voice”… “You rather work tying up tamales”

Words I got used to hearing almost every night at trying to reach the musical notes.

But the pointless comments from other people didn’t make me wait, and that was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to deal with… considering that with “other people” I mean MY FAMILY.

As you already know, Sergio’s guitar was not my best friend, so I decided to get my own one.  I asked my parents to give me a guitar for Christmas. “It was just a gift” they thought, and all the family collected the money… that Christmas, with the heart in my hand I uncovered my first partner.

Internet became my best friend from then on. Five minutes were enough to give thanks and run towards my computer. I browsed up many websites with guitar tutorials till I chose the easiest one to start.

D and G were the first chords I learned that night, happy and inspirational chords!

And I think they were the best ones for starting knowing my dear guitar, and for leaving the rising depression.

Whole hours went by as I played the same two chords trying new rhythms. Strumming and arpeggios, that was the answer to my deep sadness.

But then a bigger loss of hope came when I heard any of my family members saying: “Shut up!!… your stupid guitar is only annoying everyone here, at least try to change the same damned sound!!”

Hurtful comments.

Why couldn’t they understand how good I felt by playing my guitar?. That was the first time I felt I did some music by myself without asking anyone to teach me, one of my biggest goals ever…

How are you supposed to keep walking the way if the rocks are so big and heavy that make it dark?

Well, I could conclude then that nervousness was not alone in that of being a giant monster for dreamers, people you love can also be one.

I decided to look myself at the mirror every time it happened: “I can, no matter what they think or say… they don’t feel what I do, they don’t dream what I do, they don’t live what I do for this… it’s not time to give up”… and went on strumming my melodies.

I paid attention to what Sergio did when he asked me to tone, and tried to copy it without saying anything. If I told him I was practicing at home, his manner with me would be even worse.  So I just tried to do a photo in my mind and apply it at home… and.. I got it!

I would never forget those scales.  I started to improve at toning since I began practicing alone.

Sergio got more surprised each time I visited his house, though he didn’t lose a chance to remind me that he did it faster and much better than me when he was just a child… Nevertheless I didn’t mind anything about his development in the past, I was now interested in my own. So toning was becoming easier with the time, and I was getting more self-confident with each lesson. The yelling at home and at class were not important anymore. That was my challenge and no one could ever ruin my progress because my choice was get it or do it, there was nothing else that could matter then.

Disappointment is Not Enough of a Reason to Give Up  

The tears come naturally out of your eyes when you find out that what you spend time on is seen by others like a waste of time… 

As I told you in my last post, that was the first time I cried for love (music), but that’s something all musicians have to be prepared for at any stage (most of times in almost every stage) of their career… and in my case it was since  the very beginning… a long beginning…

Sergio offered to give me some singing classes, since even though I sang that bad, he could notice how much feeling I had inside for music.  That was a chance I couldn’t reject, so I decided to start my real career with my 12 year old teacher… Of course there was a cost brought about an important negotiation, but it was the most innocent one… yeah, I had to help him and his younger brothers with their homework… haha (I would never stop having that feeling of tenderness at remembering this…) 

The classes began and there was a big obstacle between me and my willingness to learn… I couldn’t stop laughing, (eh?… you must be thinking…) yeah… I had the nerves on edge… so try to imagine Sergio’s face… Well, it was the same thing during many classes, and there it was… the second thing music taught me: Nervousness is a huge monster  that can squash you or can be squashed by you… it’s up to you… 

Then things began to improve when the laughter left. Making the “m” sound was a useful advice Caroline gave me… it was used for warming up the voice… also making a “horse” sound.. it worked for relaxing face muscles but was terribly funny!! 

Tuning was my first challenge (I know I have mentioned many challenges so far but musically speaking this one the first real one)… and Sergio’s guitar my loyal classmate.  Scaling time and time again the frets as I tried to copy the sounds as being always interrupted by Sergio’s yell: NO! 



This only made things harder… he never knew how to be a teacher, anyway he was only 12, a young boy feeling interesting for being the singing tutor of an older girl… the classes were his perfect space to humiliate a girl who saw him as a leader and feel like a boss. 

And I… I was the perfect submissive girl who used to obey at class and cry at home… but beyond that, I was the most tenacious person I had ever met. (Yeah, music has been a career of meeting myself)

As most of the girls at that age, I hadn’t gone beyond the limits of the music. I used to listen to Pop music, so that’s what I wanted to sing… that was what used to make me “popular” at school.  Pop was my first school, a hard one, but not as hard as dealing alone with it…and with “alone” I mean without anyone’s support.

My parents had the idea that if it was not a way to earn money quickly, it was just a waste of time. The time went by and I was almost 15… it was not our best moment, the money was scarce and there was no other way to pay the bills… it was my time to work. 

I got a job as a seller in the neighborhood, in a stationery shop, the owner was a friend of my uncle. Studying in the mornings everyday until 2 PM, then working from 3 to 9 PM and then… my house could be falling down, there wouldn’t be way that I missed my class, but first, Sergio’s homework… Then we could start singing…

I arrived home about 1:30 AM everyday. (Could it be possible?)… Yeah it was, and I must tell… it was really difficult, but that’s the way you fight for a dream… so when disappointment comes you must interrupt it yelling: No! No and NO!


Asking a Dreamer to Get Real

Until this point you can notice this was all about the illusion of a normal girl… it’s usual for girls that wish of someday becoming famous public figures, most of them want to be models, singers, actresses, etc… and the way those games start they disappear through the time… but with mine one the thing went different… 

As I told you I used to tell people I was a singer… well, that was the day I sentenced myself to the real beginning of who I am now.

It was a normal day and I walked my dog Rocky all around the neighborhood after school as usual.  In a fast food restaurant located in a crowded corner worked a guy who wasn’t much older than me. For sure he was a relative of the owner… Anyway, he was good looking (I don’t think so anymore haha), so I used to walk Rocky near there… his name was Erick… we had met and started talking as teenagers do… but that day the owner wasn’t at the restaurant, there was other guy instead.  I entered as usual and had a short conversation with Erick while the other (chubby) boy was in the kitchen… as he came out from there could instantly notice my presence and asked Erick to introduce us… he was just 12, and I was 13 (much older and mature of course haha)… we talked about the school and what we enjoyed doing… (this is the part I name “pronouncing my own sentence”)…

Of course I had to tell him I sang… I mean I was a “heat” at school, and it was a topic I couldn’t leave behind when talking about my life… well… his face of surprise couldn’t be unnoticed, but this one was not like the faces I saw at school when they knew that about me, this one was absolutely different, much more interested in speaking about it, not in hearing me but in talking… A silence “interrupted” the fluent conversation in that moment, they looked each other and then Sergio (this chubby guy) didn’t hesitate in asking me “what kind of music do you sing?”… that was a question no one had ever asked me… so I had no problem in answer that I could sing any kind… WHAT A HUGE MISTAKE!…  one more face appeared: the irony one. The next question couldn’t be more obvious: “really?… any?”… and my ignorant answer: “yeah”… hahaha!!!

Sergio invited me to sing with him someday, of course, after telling me he was nothing but an Opera Singer!! OMG! (How the heck can a 12 year old guy be an opera singer?!!.. yeah, it’s possible, I can testify…)  Well, those days I had a new challenge, the language’s day at school in which, of course, I was going to sing… this time I wouldn’t do it alone, but I would feature a couple of friends who played the guitar… we needed the opinion of an expert, so I decided to tell Sergio to go to my house and hear us playing…that was the fist time I cried for music.

Obviously he wasn’t willing to hear much more after the beginning. I was nervous and my voice was trembling… so he asked us to stop playing and to cancel the performance at school. The “voice” had nothing of voice.  It was just a heap of yells. Nothing to hear in joy. 

Low blow.

From that day on I wouldn’t be able to sing again… of that I was sure… all of the comments at school had no value anymore… I came to the conclusion that I was nothing else but a girl pretending to be a singer in front of the mirror using a hairbrush as a mic.  The guitar I asked my parents for Christmas would be destined to be hidden in the closet forever. No light for my guitar, no light for my horrible voice, no light for my dream… 

But don’t you bow your head forever… I didn’t!… persistence is the way…


The Kick Off

I can tell you this all was like a game at the beginning…

The years passed and I grew up just like the same good girl I used to be…

The elementary was left behind and I started living the awesome middle school life.

You know children used to find out new talents they have at the ages of 10, 11, etc… so it was common to have classmates with peculiarities as drawing perfectly and some of them with eccentricities as bending their thumbs until touching the wrist (yeah, I met a girl who could do that… and was horrifying), and at the same time, you, being the normal one… with no specialty to share. That’s how I felt…though well, I make clear that I used to be a rarity anyway, but not a cool one, I just never stopped making efforts for being the best student and at that age, teenagers don’t worry a lot about it. Even, the more you laze around, the more popular you are. Ironic, ain’t it?… (Luckily, in music career it’s not like that).

At the age of 12, during the 7th grade, I met Caroline, a blonde tall girl who was really funny. She used to make us laugh a lot… one day she told us about her talent… she said she had never studied for it.  Caroline was as a singer… We could not believe her… she was 13 years old so we thought she just wanted to draw the attention to herself… but when we decided to listen to a recording she had in her cellphone in which she was singing a romantic song… wow!  it was unbelievable! I remember how impressed we were… Even now I don’t believe her she didn’t take any singing classes ever….

I was so excited to know she had such a beautiful voice that it just encouraged me to think I could also do it… if I could do it more than 5 years ago, which impediment would I have then?

Well I started by asking her for some advice to practice at home and make my voice prettier ..then I thought it wouldn’t take more than a week to have a great voice if I dedicated my time to practice a lot… so as soon as I started doing the exercises I started telling people that I was a singer haha!

I was brave I must say!. Every break at school was a good alibi to feel on stage and start singing aloud the popular songs (closing the eyes and making funny faces again…)… so people came to see me while I kept singing convinced of being “professional” lol…  some of them just left and some others stayed and said my voice was awesome too… they asked for more and more songs….

Now that this memory comes to me I have no idea what they were talking about! I mean, I sounded worse than a blender used for cutting potatoes!… (exageration in God’s level… but yeah, it was awuful, must admit…) maybe they admired my bravery or knew the same about music than me (nothing), or they just wanted to laugh inside at me. Anyway, those were other days that made me feel I wanted to make my dream real… The thing is that then, I only thought of the exercises Caroline gave me: “take a huge breathe, do the sound of “M” in a prolonged way… choose your song and start singing”…

Everyday, during more than a couple of months I practiced, braying for hours (yeah, I think that’s the word haha) and convincing myself I was improving… that was all what I needed to become a singer… that made the little girl’s dream real… that was enough… the real career didn’t exist for reaching the goal, it was not necessary, not for me… but soon I would have to get real when my own surety took me to reality…

Everyone’s First Time is One to Remember…

Nervous, wanting to be “eaten by Earth,” shocked, shaking and sweating as I watched that huge crowd waiting for my voice to be sounding, wishing to be anywhere else except there… and many other terrible things I felt the very first time I stood over an scenery to do what I love… one of the hardest performances I’ve ever had to do… At elementary school. (Don’t laugh at me, this was serious)…

Five years old, wearing the school’s uniform below a long yellow skirt for a perfect staging, and praying to sound good. That would be my only chance to make friends (yeah, I used to be the nerd, ever since I stepped into the kindergarten classroom for the first time, so nobody would want to meet me), and waiting to hear the speech: “and now… it’s time to listen Jennifer Dale singing Yellow Submarine”…

And… there I was, the way I described myself above, imagining how convenient could have a technical failure been in that moment. On the other hand, I knew I had to practice a lot at home with my first “singing teacher”… my father (actually, he doesn’t sing and when he tries it sounds horrible, haha… but there was no option). He had been really demanding and we practiced too much to decide just leaving.

“Sing aloud, smile, don’t dance too much, don’t be too still, move your hands this way when singing this part…” words I heard daily during almost a month to make sure everything was going to go as planned, so I could not back out from doing it.

I know I was afraid, but I can now realize that then, I started to understand music is a career of sacrifices, and the first thing you must leave behind is stage fright… the fear we usually have of what people can think or say about us, there’s no other way to make it work.

Well, I did it, I did my best and I got it… the voice came out and I started to sing…

-In the town where I was born
lived a man who sailed to sea…-

Dancing and closing my eyes because it looks more emotional and professional (haha!) and also because it was the best advice from my family to lose the fear… “Create your own world with no one else but you in, then, when you know it’s time, close your eyes and go there, you’re in charge of your feelings, your voice, and how fantastic you want to feel singing”. That’s how I achieved my mission.

I got down from the stage, with my legs trembling and the teachers coming to congratulate me, I felt like I was in another place I didn’t belong to for a while, just the way we all feel after doing our first exposition… looking for a seat and trying to avoid the look of others.

I know this sounds kind of exaggerated but, try to put yourself in my place… if a whole group dancing for family’s day at school wasn’t embarrassing enough, imagine doing it alone… you see?

Anyway, in that moment, though I felt absolutely ashamed after singing I didn’t regret it. And, nowadays I haven’t yet, I mean I wouldn’t, since that was my first step to find out what I was made of.

After that the “artist” chapter was closed for several years… I just kept being the same girl I was, always trying to be the best student of the class, loved by my teachers because of that, with only a few friends that came trough the years (also nerds just like me of course), belonging to the “uglies group” (haha) and all of that kind of things a diligent girl is lamentably supposed to live but, there was always a memory that made me kick all of that “bullying” away… I was able to do what others didn’t…. and I knew I was different…