Okay, so it’s the morning after the first rehearsal for November’s joint Worthington Symphony Orchestra/ Community Choir performance of Handel’s Messiah and my mind is spinning from my experience last night.
As I walked into the Fine Arts building at Minnesota West I had one thing foremost on my mind: I haven’t sung in a choir for, oh, about 15 years, and what on earth makes me think I’m able to do this? I haven’t got the range I used to have. I haven’t got the breath support, and I’ve never sung this piece of music before so am I even going to be able to learn it and not be a complete voice-cracking fool as I reach for those high soprano notes?
Okay, I guess that was more than one thing, but they were all connected.
I sat down, clutching my pristine copy of the music, and pulled my reading glasses out of my purse. As I did so, I contemplated the fact that last time I sang in a choir I didn’t need glasses. Suddenly I felt old and even more insecure than I had when I walked in the door.
And then John Loy asked for a show of hands of how many people had sung this before. I was sitting in the front row, and I didn’t look back, but it felt like about 90% of the people in the room raised their hands. John was impressed by the number of hands raised. I was frightened.
Then Kerry Johnson, our fearless director for the evening, began leading us in warm ups and I flashed back to my college choir experience. I was in Women’s Chorus, a non-audition choir, because I couldn’t sight read and didn’t have a good audition for the University Singers. I was crushed mostly because I knew I could hear the music once and learn it even if I couldn’t sight read it. And then I flashed back to the present day and began worrying about sight reading and if I was going to be utterly horrible at this first rehearsal and then it was time to begin with the first song and Diane Mick began playing piano and suddenly we were singing!
And even though I couldn’t sight read and even though I hadn’t sung in years and even though I couldn’t hold a note as long as I used to, suddenly I knew I’d be okay because I knew this music! I could reach the notes (most of the time) and I could stagger my breathing with the ladies next to me and I didn’t think that Kerry and John would kick me out because even though I was far from excellent, at least I wasn’t pathetic.
Now I’m not saying that I didn’t have some voice-cracks that a could have made a middle-school boy proud, and I’m still not sure that I can ever hit a high “b” the way I’m supposed to and I’m not sure that it will be pretty if I do…but I am saying that I’m having a lot of fun trying. And to that I say, “Hallelujah”!