Will I Sound Like Beyoncé?

By Sonam Rikha ’24

Sonam as childHave you ever gone on a walk with your friends, and all of a sudden you hear a loud, high-pitched, angelic voice? Chances are, if you followed that voice, you would stumble across a little Asian girl singing at the top of her lungs as her embarrassed brother follows at a distance. Ever since I was a little kid, I loved singing and was pretty open about it. I participated in the school choir, sang at my community center, and would even sing in front of my classmates. Whether it was Tibetan cultural music, pop radio hits, or even the national anthem, I always sang as I walked home from school. Looking back, I feel quite embarrassed at how unabashed I was, but I guess little me couldn’t care less if someone didn’t like my singing.

Unfortunately, the shameless and confident girl who belted her heart out in front of anyone slowly turned into the self-conscious and quiet teenager who no one knew could sing. What caused this sudden change, you’re probably wondering. Well, a traumatic incident of bullying in fifth grade made me focus more on the very few people who were annoyed by my singing instead of the friends, family, and teachers who embraced it. Although I stopped singing publicly, I never actually stopped singing.

Sonam in front of microphoneWhen I heard that Pomona offers free individual voice lessons (pass/no credit), the little me bubbled with excitement. I always wanted to receive voice lessons, like all the famous Hollywood singers, but the reality is that getting individual voice lessons can be really expensive. When I got the email from the music department confirming my spot for voice lesson classes, I joked around with family members that by the end of the semester I would be able to sing like Beyoncé.

I am currently halfway through the semester, and, although I still don’t sound anything like Queen Bey, I’ve noticed improvement with my own vocal technique. I’ve been able to hit higher notes than I thought I was capable of, and my singing voice even sounds “stronger.” I’ll admit, I was a little nervous and skeptical about voice classes over Zoom, but it’s actually been great! Pomona even sent me a new Fifine microphone to use during class.

laptop screen wit lyrics from BurnEvery Friday for thirty minutes I can escape the stress of all my academic classes and sing away my problems, as if I was Gabriella from High School Musical. Professor Geiger is an amazing vocal coach, and the fact that he has to listen to my voice crack for thirty minutes is commendable. Professor Geiger usually lets me pick the songs I want to work on, and, from there, he gives me advice on how I can sing those songs even better. Currently, I’m practicing the song “Burn” from Hamilton, and let’s just say that I can now miraculously hit all the notes in the song. If you are a Pomona student considering taking voice lessons, I would highly recommend it!