Self-taught sophomore singer places third at Saratoga Idol

December 8, 2016 — by Eleanor Goh and Elicia Ye

Students love for singing continues into high school.

Ever since she could remember, sophomore Deyshna Pai, a self-taught singer, has loved the thrill of performing in front of an audience — whether it be acting, flute-playing or singing.

In the two years she has been at SHS, she has participated in each annual Saratoga Idol, securing third place this year with her rendition of soul singer Etta James’s “At Last,” a ‘60s love song.

Compared to last year, Pai believes that being more experienced and more at ease on stage helped her to do better and distinguish herself from the other contestants.

“As a freshman, I felt intimidated, but this year I felt a little more calm because I knew how it was done,” Pai said. “[Saratoga Idol] is like a ladder for me, and I like to keep going to the next step.”

To prepare for performances, Pai scours the web for recordings and studies them in detail. She takes note of the way the artists enunciate their words and express their emotions, and uses a mixture of imitation and personal style to deliver her own interpretation.

Although Pai does not have any formal vocal training, she is able to rely on the breathing techniques she learned while playing the flute to aid her.

Flutists are taught to breathe using their diaphragm and to open their vocal cavities — two skills that Pai believes have helped her expand her range and projection.

“I’ve never really thought about applying flute techniques to singing, but I think the similar breathing techniques between playing flute and singing has helped me,” she said.

Pai draws her inspiration from artists like Michael Jackson and the Beatles. She enjoys jazzy interpretations of popular songs from Postmodern Jukebox, and often motivates herself by listening to the multitude of singers on YouTube.

Although at first she found that she was subconsciously comparing herself to other artists and becoming discouraged in the process, Pai said that in the end, watching others who share her same passion succeed encouraged her to continue to do what she enjoys.

“I get inspired when I see so many incredible people,” Pai said. “I think the biggest struggle is comparing myself to them and thinking ‘That person sings so well, I could never sing like them.’ But I realized that everybody starts somewhere and singing is something I like to do.”