Music is an essential practice in my family. My dad sang. My aunt. My grandmother. And when I say they sang, I mean the kind of music that mournfully peels you off of the floor, props you up, and holds you entranced. Or the kind that lifts you to the sky while the clouds peel away revealing a glaring brightness that confirms that joy, indeed, does come with the morning.
That kind of singing!
My mom played the jukebox. I played the piano and sang a little. My brother carried the tradition in a new way finding his muse in the French Horn and in speaking the words of music as a DJ for public radio. Music. It was there all the time.
Then I had children. And I discovered music that will dissolve your soul. Together, with other voices in concert, I swept away by their music. Tears running down my face. Una voce they tore my heart out, reformed it, and planted it back into my body as if I was merely a tin man.
Then came guitar, ukulele, and flute. Music. There is an extra seat at the table for her. It is always occupied.
When my youngest came out as transgender in 9th grade, the biggest conversation we had about starting the SRS* process was what if? What if he had to give up singing? What if music left? What if testosterone changed his voice so much that he had no voice? Or at least, not the voice he was accustomed to. The voice. It had to go. That was terrifying. It had seemed that music swirled through his DNA more than being girl or being boy. But now, it was different. Being masculine was a life-saving necessity.
I say life-saving because it was. The cuts and scars that were being inflicted by his beautiful soprano and developing body were draining his spirit. The volley of notes that danced in his blood were landing like grenades.
There would be no music dancing if he did not survive.
Suddenly, over and against the children’s choir that had swept him away, swept me away, there was a terrifying drum beat that defined a new reality
We, I say we because hello, motherhood, entered into hormone therapy. The soprano was replaced by an alto and then replaced by a tenor. His voice is now lower than his older brother’s. He is not amused. Now they sing together. Two tenors harmonizing. A new rhythm.
And what a gift his music teacher was! He documented the discovery of his new voice. Recording the same song over and over through changes and octaves. Layering him into his own choir singing the most beautiful song I have ever heard.
I am me.
Music. It was there all the time.
Colin singing one of his own creations at his recital. Sorry for the recording quality!
*Sex Reassignment Surgery
© 2015, story/video/photograph, Terri Stewart, All rights reserved