It’s been many, many years since I sang in a choir. But it’s not something I’m unfamiliar with. I started taking piano lessons in first grade, and in third grade I joined my first choir in school. It seems to me that it was about that same time that I started singing in a children’s choir in church as well. My piano lessons had taught me the basics of reading music, and it was already serving me well.
I continued to sing — seventh and eighth grade boys choir, Freshman Choir, and finally High School Choir. My soprano voice had by now changed to a tenor, and for the last couple years of my high school “career” I put it to use in our church’s chancel choir. But the time came for me to move on, and I went away to college, and was accepted into the prestigious Westmar Chorale, a fine choir considered at the time to be on a par with the world famous St. Olaf Choir and the Concordia Choir.
When I left college in 1973 and went home to Redwood Falls, I had other things on my mind besides singing. I got a job, got married, and then shortly moved away. It was the end of my singing “career”, for all intents and purposes. Over the years I resisted the requests to sing in church choirs, and in a few years very few people ever knew that I had ever sung in any organized choirs. (I do seem to remember one time, in the 90s, when we got a little choir together in our church for one performance, one song, during Holy Week, and I sang tenor in that choir.)
My piano playing also suffered through those years, as my wife and I didn’t own a piano, and we were too busy working and raising our kids to think very much about it. We finally bought a used old upright, and I thought maybe I would pick up where I left off. But it turned out to be hard to make myself get up from my recliner to play the piano, especially when I had a baseball game I wanted to watch, or I had this to do or that to do, or I was simply tired from a hard day at work. Still, I did try a few times to get back into it, by arranging music for my daughters to play on their cello and viola, with me accompanying them at church. I also tried to play for church myself a few times. But in the end, I got tired of it, my kids grew up and moved away, and so I just quit.
A few weeks ago a nice lady from our local church choir approached me and asked if I would consider joining the church choir this fall. I agreed to consider it. I didn’t consider it for too many days; I guess we might say the time was right. I’ve now attended three practices on consecutive Wednesday nights, and our first Sunday to sing will be the first Sunday in October.
My fine…uh…my second (-rate) tenor voice has in recent years lowered a bit into a still-second-rate but more mellow baritone, so now I’m singing with the basses (which is really nothing like “sleeping with the fishes” though it sounds a lot like it.) When I noticed the lower pitch to my voice a couple years ago, I decided to try and sing the bass part in church when we sing the old hymns. I tell you, when you’re used to reading the top line of the bass clef, with the words right above your notes, it’s quite a change to read the bottom line with the words way up above someplace! But I’ve gotten quite used to it in recent months. And after three rehearsals, I’m starting to feel like maybe I’m really part of the group now — maybe I can actually contribute. (But don’t look for me to go professional!)