Rediscovering his voice

DSC_0190Westfield High School student Chase Andrzejewski gains renewed confidence after voice change

 

To young teenage boys, a cracking voice is merely annoying, but to Chase Andrzejewski, the cracking voice left him void of self-assurance.

Andrzejewski, now 16, claims he sang at two-years-old. Music is his passion and, he hopes, will be his career.

The spring before the deepening of his voice, Andrzejewski said he was a “little ball of confidence.” Before puberty, he hit the extremely high notes with little effort. Brian Andrzejewski, the singer’s father, remembers his son’s voice deepening from first or second soprano to baritone. After the voice change, it took one year of struggling to regain a decent vocal range.

“I had to deal with the frustration of having to learn to sing again,” Andrzejewski said.

In the past three years, Andrzejewski auditioned for two reality shows that offer talented voices a national platform and professional coaching. He auditioned for the first, the “X-Factor,” at the close of his freshman year. He wasn’t chosen to perform on the show, and that summer his voice changed.

DSC_0463Andrzejewski turned to his voice coach at the time, Janet Crenshaw. Crenshaw loves music. The former music director for Carmel Repertory Theatre believes a voice is more than just notes; it’s about singing from the soul. She saw that quality in then 12-year-old Andrzejewski as he performed “Music Man” on stage in 2009.

“He caught my eye,” Crenshaw said. “He had a spirit about him. I could tell he enjoyed what he did, and if he could be tweaked, he’d be better.”

Crenshaw admired Andrzejewski’s voice and offered to work with him. He accepted the offer. As his vocal coach, she was there to comfort Andrzejewski during moments of distress and frustration. She did her best to calm Andrzejewski and gave him exercises to transition the break in his voice. More importantly, Crenshaw listened. She heard the potential in the voice but understood that half the battle was renewing confidence.

“It was really traumatic for him,” Crenshaw said.

Andrzejewski was determined. He came to voice coaching sessions ready. He soon found that he could sing again. The self-confident child had changed and developed a maturity to match the new voice. He understood vocal chords were muscles that needed exercise and training.

“Everything just came along with such ease,” Andrzejewski said. “I now have to work hard and practice a lot. It’s so different and so hard to adjust. When everything comes so naturally and then all of a sudden you can’t do it as easily anymore – it’s hard.”

Andrzejewski also had support at home. The Andrzejewski home is a diverse environment, but that is how his parents, Ann and Brian, like it for their three young men. The couple’s approach to raising a family is to encourage their sons to pursue various interests. Their eldest plays on Purdue’s baseball team and the second works in technology. That leaves Andrzejewski, the artist.

“My role is to stay out of his way and let him develop,” his father said. “[The policy is] we don’t care what you do. Find what you’re passionate about and stick with it.”

Brian, a former member of the U.S. Air Force, and his wife cheer their three boys on in their pursuits. Ann approached Jan Miller, owner of Jan’s Village Pizza, in January of this year. Ann thought her son needed more experience. The Millers only knew the Andrzejewskis as customers and had no idea Andrzejewski sang. Miller remembers hearing good reviews from Andrzejewski’s classmates, who worked for her.

“I took a chance on it, and we’ve really enjoyed him,” Miller said.

Miller made room for Andrzejewski to sing by the front window so he faced those eating at the pizza and ice cream parlor. He sang every Friday night after Westfield High School football games. The experience was helpful, as he learned to set up a microphone, chat with the crowd and know which songs fit the mood of the audience.

“It’s what I could call my first gig,” he said. “I learned so much from a little place here in Westfield.”

In late spring of 2012, Andrzejewski made it to the blind auditions for The Voice in Los Angeles in front of the four celebrity mentors – Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine, Blake Shelton and CeeLoo Green – but no chairs turned around. He appreciated the coaching he received in Los Angeles and anticipates returning to pursue his career in music.

“By spending a few weeks this summer in LA preparing for the blind auditions, he made a great network of friends and fellow artists (some with a great deal of experience in the industry) that quickly became like family,” his mother wrote in an email.

Training his voice was easy compared to finding a style that he could call his own. While in Los Angeles, coaches encouraged him to find a style of music that defined him. To move forward in the music world, he needed to find a genre that echoed his personality and passion.  Andrzejewski compares his newfound style to that of Jason Mraz. He likes the style because it is “just as much fun to sing it as it is to listen to it.”

For Andrzejewski, the journey of finding his voice has been a trial and a treasure. He reflects on the year that his voice changed as a time of growth. It was a time of losing his old identity and gaining a new and fresh perspective on his goals with music.

“It’s challenging and rewarding,” he said. “It’s challenging because I want to be good at what I do. It’s rewarding because I’m doing it, and I love it. It’s my passion. Though there are bumps in the road, it’s something I will continue to do.”

9.22.12_Chase(2)Meet Chase Andrzejewski

Age: 16

School: Westfield High School junior

Hobbies: Singing, dancing and theater

Recent concert attended: Jason Mraz

Future plans: To attend college in Los Angeles, Calif.

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