For weeks now the church choir has practiced and struggled through various pieces of music as we prepared for Christmas at church. With varying degrees of success, we sang some new and some old pieces done previously. As a new member of the choir, I have been expected to sight sing the alto part to music. Now my voice range is anywhere from some of the tenor notes (actually sung by altos in some song parts) all the way through to soprano. And I freely admit that sight singing is not my strong suit. I practice with the piano and learn my part by repeating until it is correct.
Probably most places of worship around the world have choirs rehearsing music around this time of year. Some of the members might have college degrees in music performance and others have a modicum of musical background enough to sing most of the songs. Our music Director has rehearsed parts, sometimes admonishing us from week to week. There were wrong notes and at wrong times. As the Christmas celebration drew near, there were extra rehearsals and performances. Our own two children performed in various musical groups in school, and I still recall their Director trying to get the wind instruments to get tuned correctly. Finally after several flat or sharp notes, he uttered “close enough” and the performance commenced. I chuckled inwardly.
In our piano recitals growing up in Massachusetts and in Colorado, we were told that if we made a mistake, just continue to play. So it is with my signing in the choir. When the Director shakes his head in disapproval and utters the dreaded words that the altos were singing flat, I am simultaneously annoyed and confused. But how am I to hear when he is not playing the piano as we sing? Most times, it is fine but when a new trumpet player recently introduced the song, the choir was expected to sing a cappella and find our notes accordingly. Unfortunately there were some wrong notes which had to be corrected.
Loving challenges, I continue to practice diligently to learn the alto part and sing the notes. But enter here the extra challenge of singers in the choir who sing flat, singers in the choir who sing wrong notes or who can’t count correctly and come in at wrong intervals. Or consider the person nearby who utters quite loudly in the middle of the piece that we had missed notes. Not to worry I tell myself as I try to sing correctly. For me, however, the note is either right or wrong. It is either on pitch or it is flat or sharp. It is either on key or not.
We are like a bunch of school kids put together, a random and motley crew charged with the task of getting along and learning the music correctly and looking at the Director as we sing. Some choir members forget to allow the Director to make corrections. But as in any such group, some people are right all the time even when they are not.
Adapting to the group dynamic called choir has been challenging but fun. Why do I do this? Because of my love of music and my belief that Music Ministry is an integral part of worship. Singing has been called praying twice.
The photo of the North Pole with the moon at its closest point with the sun below it is courtesy of Grahame Vetch. The other sunrise and moonset photos are courtesy of Sally Dolak who blogs from Costa Rica.