Perfect Pitch or Close Enough?

north pole photo12004148_10153673066713552_6670273921184727116_n

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.

IMG_1073

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.

 

 

 

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Christmas choir, music, worship, Music Ministry, singing, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Perfect Pitch or Close Enough?

  1. Annika Perry says:

    I enjoyed reading about your trials and tribulations of the choir. I was only part of one at school however it was not really my forte and I must admit to becoming rather frustrated with the seemingly endless repetitions. However I love listening to choirs and am always awed that single voices upon each other result in such heavenly sounds. I wish you luck and lots of enjoyment and peace in your concert, that calm reigns upon the frustrations. Follow your beautiful dictum of ‘ Singing has been called praying twice’. Sums it up perfectly. Warmest wishes for a lovely Christmas for you and your family.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Peace to you this Christmas season as well. Thank you for your insightful comment, Annika. Any group has such trials and tribulations. The end result is, however, well worth all the practice. We sang for the Franciscan nuns this afternoon and brought them presents from our church congregation. it was wonderful and festive. I had a chance to practice German with several nuns who speak German and one joined me in singing Stille Nacht (Silent Night) in German. Maybe our sounds were even heard in heaven!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Annika Perry says:

        I find that I only ever remember the words form Stille Nacht, it’s so beautiful. If I try to sing it in English or Swedish I can never remember the words. In German it’s just so right and natural. Great you got to talk some German and that you had such a lovely festive time. Much appreciated all round I’m sure.

        Liked by 1 person

      • The words of appreciation yesterday still remain with me. Your comments included. I believe my students learned the words to Silent Night in Swedish one year when we had an exchange student. Also Danish as I recall. Languages are so interesting to me! Have a wonderful Christmas season.

        Like

  2. BunKaryudo says:

    It sounds as though your experience in the choir falls into the “tough but worthwhile” category.

    Like

    • Sometimes it is challenging, but all things worthwhile are worth doing well and putting in hard work. Music is very rewarding and food for the soul.

      Liked by 1 person

      • BunKaryudo says:

        That’s true. Music is such a very rewarding way to spend our time.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Do you play a musical instrument or sing? Even listening has its own rewards. Thanks for commenting.

        Liked by 1 person

      • BunKaryudo says:

        I play my favorite three chords on the guitar (rather poorly) and I sing like a walrus, but I enjoy it. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Funny! I never heard a walrus sing but am confident that you are overly critical of your musical ability. I love your humor!

        Liked by 1 person

      • BunKaryudo says:

        Well, I do enjoy music, but I’m just not particularly great at producing it. Luckily, my eldest son has recently taken up the guitar and shows some promise, so in the future, I may get to enjoy the benefits of many hours of hard practice without having to undertake the reality of it. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Good news! Giving the gift of music to children reaps lifelong benefits. We listened to hours of piano, violin, flute and later guitar which my son took up and self taught. Children who start at a young age usually don’t drop the study of the instrument later because they realize they play well. We were fortunate to have a teacher who showed them the proper way to practice and didn’t insist on one hour per day which is what I had to do. Sometimes during summer vacations from school, I had to practice 4-6 hours per day. With four daughters, my parents purchased a second piano so there was always music going on. Later on another sister wanted to play violin so she added that in addition to her piano. Wishing you happy music making at your house.

        Liked by 1 person

      • BunKaryudo says:

        It sounds like there was always a lot of wonderful music to listen to in your house. Perhaps in the future, I will be as fortunate. My eldest son does seem pretty serious about his guitar practice. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Fingers crossed for you. Second to learning other world languages, I place learning to play a musical instrument at the top of the list. Since I was the eldest, however, I had the short straw and practiced my one hour before playing the church organ at 6:30 AM daily and then walked to school. You can do the math with that one. The gift of music was given our two children as well. I imagine you can really play more than three chords on the guitar. Today, I can’t seem to get enough music and languages in my life. Writing and working as a sewing artist are also enjoyable to me. My creative side is very strong. Your humor when you write comes through loudly and clearly. I love it! Thanks for taking time to comment.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Tom says:

    Singing is praying twice. Music reaches us in ways that simple speech does not. I enjoyed reading your depiction of choir life and the photo at the bottom 😉

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s