Jessie West – singer / songwriter

I purchased Sing & See online, in a panic, the very evening I was making my debut performance as one half of a duet at a local open mike. My friend and I had signed up for this well-attended venue weeks in advance, and I had been singing “Bye, Bye Love” over and over, many times a day — singing along with both The Everly Brothers and Simon and Garfunkle recordings, since we were undecided about which version we wanted to use.

I had also been practicing over the weeks with my duet partner; she was to play guitar and sing harmony, and my job was to simply sing the melody line. The problem was, I knew my voice was off — I could hear it and she confirmed it –BUT I just didn’t know HOW: was I sharp? flat? both? I was searching around with my vocal chords for the notes I could hear quite well on the recordings and, less easily, on her guitar.

My core problem is that I didn’t get the voice training other kids did, in elementary school. My voice was lower than the other girls, and our horrible voice teacher told me to just simply not sing along when she discovered I couldn’t hit those “girl notes.” (In that ancient era it never would have occured to someone to say, “sing with the boys, then.”)

I did sing a lot with my mom and grandma, both of whom sang loud, enthusiatically, and out of tune. And, of course, I sang along hours a day with my transistor radio and 45 rpm records. My brain RAM is still full of all those old song lyrics, as well as the great old tunes.

After college, in the early 1970’s, I wrote some songs myself while working at a factory job in the woods outside Woodstock, New York. I arrived in San Francisco with a guitar on my back, and was hoping to be the “Bob Dylan” of the women’s movement (second wave feminism had an awesome women’s music scene), since I was a great lyricist but couldn’t sing very well.

I did teach myself 6 guitar chords and a little straight harmonica, and accompanyed myself at various little gigs at coffeehouses and bookstores and bars. But, although practice made me better, I could never consistently sing in tune.

Anyway, back to November 18, 2010. Sing & See arrived by download about an hour before I had to leave for our gig. I immediately put it to work — it is very intuitive — and, no surprise: I freaked out. My voice was so consistently off on some of the notes! OMG! WHY, I asked myself, am I doing this right before I have to get up on stage? This is a total confidence buster!

BUT THEN I calmed down and started working with the program, and do you know, it was the most amazing thing: within 20 minutes I had trained my voice to hit the notes I was having trouble with! Soon I was singing the song in tune! There is a video of the event to prove it. I use Sing & See all the time, now, and only wish it had been invented 40 years earlier! I might have been as famous as Joni Mitchell or Cat Stevens! :)))

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