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Thursday, June 29, 2017

U-Turn II: Back to the Music

I grew up in a pretty musical household. My father sang in a barbershop quartet; my mother played the piano and the organ; my brother sang, played guitar and the ukulele; and I played the piano and sang in the church choir. Given that my parents were also drinking fairly heavily during those years, many of the songs sung at their alcohol-fueled parties were unfortunately a bit on the slurry side. But that’s another story.

The music continued into my 20’s, when my brother, his new wife Pati, and I sang as a little down home trio, mostly for friends, and mostly the folk songs that were popular in the 1960s.

This is the information I gave to the choir director at my church—except for the drinking parents part—when I asked to join the choir. This happened a mere four weeks ago, following the 10:30 am Sunday mass, and just a few weeks after I’d officially joined the church.

I’m not quite sure that any of my previous singing or piano playing much mattered to the director, as he immediately told me to write down which monthly masses the choir regularly sang at. Then he told me to show up the following Wednesday for rehearsal. I said, “Fine, I’ll audition for you then.” To which he responded, “No need to audition. Welcome to the choir.”

That’s when I got nervous. I used to sing alto, and used to be able to read music, and used to play the piano, but I also last did all that nearly 50 years ago.

Welcome to the choir indeed.

I’ve now been to several rehearsals and sung at three masses with my choir colleagues—all of who have been singing together for years and were also immediately welcoming to this newcomer. So far, I don’t seem to have embarrassed myself: I do sing on key, though I couldn’t tell you which keys they are. I’m also not sure I’m an alto anymore, though I might be once I re-learn how to read music.

Mostly though, I feel grateful to be surrounded by this group and this music, especially the toe-tapping churchy stuff. Here’s an example of one of the songs I’ve kinda, sorta mastered, meaning I’ve practiced and sung it enough times to have learned it by ear.