I HAVE TAKEN an internal Hippocratic oath of choir participation: At first, do no harm.
The best way to proceed would be quietly, preferably very quietly.
I believe most people’s voices are connected to their brains in very certain paths.
Think a sound, it materializes in vocalization.
If I envision a musical note, the note proceeds in its own unique pathway, unhindered by the thought process, and expounds forth a far distance from its original intent.
Which would be fine if you were singing alone.
I knew I was in trouble this way early in life.
In elementary school, where everyone is encouraged to sing and expand their collective wee artistic souls, my teacher would say to the class, “Everyone sing now, but Robert.”
Really. And of course I complied because I understood that the show must go on, the good of the many outweighs the needs of the few and it only takes one bad apple to spoil the batch.
As an adult, I joined the local “Closet Chorale” in Port Angeles.
This was a class at Peninsula College offered by the extremely talented Dennis Crabbe, the theorem being that anyone can sing.
I proved him wrong.
I was hoping that people who really couldn’t sing would join this class and it would be a kind of remedial kindred spirits gathering of hope.
Sadly, accomplished singers populated the class, and the bar was set as high as usual.
It was as if a group of French chefs invaded a beginner’s cooking class.
Nevertheless, I sallied forth.
Sometimes I would think I was musically blending, but I could tell the answer was un-affirmative when the person next to me at the final concert gave me a look that seemed to say, “Why did you make those noises in the middle of the concert?”
I love music, and I have perfected being a good audience member.
At the Juan de Fuca Festival of the Arts, I hold applause until the last four count of the last bar to honor the musicianship.
I hear the nuances in orchestra and chorale music.
Being a consummate listener is of value, after all; it is a gift to really listen to others, but I keep hearing the invitations to choirs where “everyone is welcome.”
Aha, I think, my choir opportunity.
My latest foray was into a choir led by a brilliant doctor with an amazing voice, professional discipline and infectious humor.
Here I have dutifully learned how to breathe at the correct spots, how to be true to the written music, but not how to find that elusive note.
In this choir, I did discover that if you sing in the bass section, the mistakes are less noticeable.
Errors sound like an indistinct offkey rumble much like a Navy Growler jet rather than an annoying screech.
Yet my fellow bassist just moved away from me recently, and not too subtly, I might add.
But I have found the solution to wanting to sing in the choir and being surrounded by lovely voices in harmony.
I will now happily sit behind the choir, encircled by nearby auditory beauty, and run the PowerPoint so all of you who can sing will have lyrics to follow at the next performance.
Silence is golden.
Robert Eash lives in Port Angeles.
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