People used to stop me on occasion and tell me that I should sing with THE CHOIR. And I never quite knew what to say, because what I really thought when they said that was "thank you thank you thank you! That would be a dream come true. And its kind of all I ever wanted, and the fact that you tell me that gives me all sorts of hope." But if you say that to someone they think you are weird and sort of give you the gutteral stutter as they walk away. So I never quite knew how to respond to that. But for the past 6 months or so, no one has said that to me. Until today. Finally today a sweet old gentleman turned around during church and said to me "You should be in THE CHOIR" and I finally got to respond with the response I have had prepared since I was 4 years old. "I do." (Meanwhile inside my head was screaming "YYYYAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!")
There are a few things I have to admit about the whole experience. Strange things that either didn't occur to me in all the preparations or that I never thought I would admit. Do you want to hear my top ten choir confessions?
Read on, Reader.
10. I love my blue name tag. I got the special black name tag (and it was in FRENCH. Very cool) and then I got the special white name tag (the one that called me a teacher) and now I have the blue one. With little organ pipes on it. It pretty much rocks.
9. I like the dresses. Oh no, I am not saying I would choose them or wear them for fun. I am not defending them as fashion statements or as elegant. I am not saying their cut compliments my body type nor does the color compliment my face. I'm just saying that for as long as I can remember I have wanted to be one of the people in one of these dresses. And now I have a closet of them and the pearl earrings to match. I get so excited every time I put one on, and I am a little sad when I have to take it off again. I would wear it 24/7 if they told me to.
8. Mack Wilberg is a musical genius and Ryan Murphy is as much if not more. This is the perfect timing for me to be in the choir. Past directors have been wonderful, but these two function at a level that astounds me and keeps me moving. These directors were the two I needed.
7. There are mean and rude people. There are good and fun people. There are kind people and there are selfish people. Every group of people has some nasty and some wonderful in the blend. Not everyone gets it. But lots of people do. Especially here.
6. I like the conference center organ better than the tabernacle organ. The two spaces are different and you hear different things from different places and sometimes not at all depending on where you stand and who is playing. And as much as one place is home and historic, the other is modern and amazing. One is Garnier, the other Bastille. We need both. You can feel the organ in your feet at both. But if I have to choose where to listen to the organ solo, I chose the Conference Center, where half the women around me are stuffing cotton in their ears because the pipes are right there and they are blasting you out of your chair, ad I am praying for the organist to pile on just a little more registration.
5. I still wonder what they are all taking pictures of. When rehearsal is open to the public and the tourists come pouring in, or at the end of a broadcast when the cameras start flashing, I still stand there wondering what everyone is taking pictures of. What did they come here to see? Oh yeah, its me. Me and 370 other people. But still, its me. weird to thing that I am in some stranger's scrapbook.
4. I hope I never get tired and complacent. I don't think I will, after all its 16 years since I first saw the big Y on the mountain and I still stare at it and am amazed that it became a part of my life. And its 12 years since I first saw "my" tower and I still marvel that I ever even saw it, let alone lived by it for so long. I don't think this will wear off either. And I don't want it to. There are some people in there, and you can see that it has. There are some people that still marvel after 20 years. I know which camp I want to be in.
3. I seriously don't mind having to miss RS every week. I know its SUPPOSED to be a sacrifice, but lets face it, I never belonged there. Not like I belong here. Half the time the only thing that kept me going was curiosity to see what would happen next. And don't even get me started on the running commentary that I employed in order to keep myself amused and/or behaving. Believe it or not, I am finally attending meetings where I don't have any comments at all, let alone sarcastic ones. Sure we chuckle every once in a while, but but there is no sarcasm dripping from my mind to my tongue every 15 seconds. Its refreshing.
2. It's a good thing I memorized and prepared for 33 years. If I hadn't had the choirs and music I have had, I would never be able to keep up. As is we have now only sung 3 pieces that I didn't already know. And two of them were brand newly written for the choir, so no one knew them. The other was a patriotic piece that always irritated me and so I chose not to learn it. My bad. I just keep telling the other new people that ask me how I keep up: "I'm lucky. God knew I would never be able to keep up with the learning curve in here, so he made sure I learned everything beforehand". With that, I should thank the amazing directors and voice teachers I have had, since they let God use them to prepare me. Seriously, I bet Jim never knew that whole stake choir thing (for how many years) was purely for my benefit. (Okay, maybe a few others too, but I'm pretty sure it was mostly me.) And I bet Jeanine never knew she had to move to MN just so she could teach me (sorry 'bout those terrible winters...) Maybe thats a selfish perspective. But seriously, I can't tell you how much of a difference it makes when you sing through a piece once before it has to be recording and camera ready... I would have been drowned, dead and buried if it weren't for already knowing the music and the vocal production.
1. You sing and you sing your whole life, and sometimes you sing and have to keep pace with a group that has a different goal and different style than you would choose. You try desperately to keep pace. Or sometimes you sing with groups where you set the pace, and where you desperately want someone else to pick up the pace. You are either falling behind or dragging an entire ensemble along behind you your whole life. You learn to sing out because everyone else is getting their part off of you, and then you learn to hear when they've got the part so you can back off and blend instead of lead. You never quite find the group that has unity in purpose and skill and heart. And because you are always ahead of or behind the pack, you always feel just that much out of step. I have sung with a few different groups over the past year. I sang with a professional opera chorus, where outsinging the next person was the rule and the Italian was to be memorized and understood by the second time through, They were professionals and they were already on to expression and articulation before I even got the note right. I also sang with a community college choir, where I shifted from part to part depending on what I heard and in some pieces sang all four parts at one point or another. But I had time to learn and memorize all four parts in the rehearsal time it took for the other vocalists to learn their part. They never even got to dynamics, let alone pronouncing the text properly. I am finally singing with the only group of people in the world that I am in step with. We sing the songs I love and know. We sing them well. I don't have to lead my section. If I get lost and am looking for a note, I can listen around me and not only will someone else know it, they won't hate me for backing off for a moment. It actually took me quite a few rehearsals to even start trusting the voices around me, simply because I had gotten so used to being the only voice. 90 people in a section means I can sing out or I can take a breath or I can quietly learn my part, and it is the best feeling in the world. It's the perfect blend. I have to work at it, but I am keeping up.
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