New Challenge – Learning music

From 1988 to 1995, I was a member of a girls chorus. It was a chorus of girls from all over town, and I absolutely loved it! We practiced every week for months, and put on a big concert in December with holiday usic, and a concert in May with anything from old classics to showtunes.

There were 3 choirs at the time, a beginner group, intermediate, and advanced. I spent one year each in the beginner and intermediate groups, and 5 years in the advanced group. Being in the advanced group, I got to go on tours each April. We would go for 10 days, 40 girls, the director, the nurse, and I think 5 chaperones or “room moms”. My first year we took a tour bus to southern California, and it was the first time going away from my parents. I was in sixth grade. The next year, was my first time flying, to Washington D.C. This was my favorite tour. We got to spend time on at the Smithsonian, and we sang in a huge music festival called America Sings. I think there were 25,000 singers, and we all learned the same 3 songs and dance moves, and we all performed on the Washington Mall. What an experience for a seventh grader! The following year was New York City and Philadelphia. Our director made us t-shirts after we got back that said, “Remember New York!” because it had been the trip from, well, not from heaven. She put a bus company out of business after we had bees in the bus, a broken down bus that left us to walk 30 blocks to the Met, and almost being late to the Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. That was definitely a trip to remember. After that it gets hazy…I think it was Nashville and Branson, where I got to sing solo at the Lawrence Welk theatre, and my last year was Atlanta, GA where the church we stayed at used to be headquarters for the KKK! Yuck.

After that I retired to focused on my junior and senior years of high school. Imagine my consternation when the next tour was announced….England, Scotland and Wales! The choir’s first international tour! And I had graduated!!! Oh man…

I sang in choir in college but that didn’t last long because I had to leave college. After that it was just the karaoke bar and car singing.

Fast forward to now, 14 years after leaving girls chorus. The director, now retired, has started another choir, a women’s choir, and I just joined!

Back in 2005, the director was retiring after 20 years, and I got to sing in her retirement concert. That was so amazing, coming together one last time and singing on that big stage with all those girls for one last time, for the woman who had a huge part in who I am today. I love her. We sounded so amazing, women’s voices having matured. We sang some of the old favorites and it was amazing.

So when I had the chance to sing under her direction again, I jumped at the chance. She knew I was blind, and told me we’d figure it out. So I went with my oldest friend from the old choir on Tuesday evening.

I don’t know most of the women. Most of them are quite older than us, and a lot of moms of girls who used to be in chorus. There was one other girl there who used to be in with me and it was great to see her!

The director told us we’d just blast through the music for the first night, and vote on the remaining 2 songs, after singing through 4. Going into this I thought I’d know most of the music, having been in chorus so long in the past. Not the case…I know 2 of the songs. Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire, and Santa Baby. Chestnuts I sang before, but Santa Baby I only know from hearing it.

We had been placed into parts, and again I’m a second soprano. Which is hard, because the part is between soprano and alto, so its often the hardest to hear. But I was always a second, and I’m a second again. One of the pieces is 5 part harmony!

Not being able to read the music, I mostly sat and listened, joining in when I knew where the music was going. At one point, I thought the natural flow of the music would be to sing an octave up and I did…but the whole room was silent hahahaha! It was the right note, but not the right timing!

So now the challenge begins. I can memorize a song no problem when I hear it in my playlist or the radio. But country songs aren’t like learning choral music. One of the girls is good with the computer, so she inputs the music, and will make me a cd of the notes for my part by itself, and then combine it with the other parts, with second soprano a bit louder. The director is going to email me all the words, and I also suggested I find recordings of choral performances of the songs, done in the same way, so she is working on that.

We rehearse for 2 months and then put on a concert in mid December! Yikes!

I wonder if my guide dog will be cool with performing in later seasons hehe!! So now along with my already fairly busy schedule, I’m adding learning some difficult music to the mix, and doing it in a whole new way. Bring it!

2 Comments

Filed under accomplishment, Adjustment to blindness, Choir, guide dogs

2 Responses to New Challenge – Learning music

  1. This sounds like a great opportunity. I am sure that you’ll find a way to make it happen. Have you considered trying to learn braille music. I played the clarinet for over a decade and gave it up when I lost the ability to read music. I really miss it. Maybe I can challenge myself to play again. Good luck.

  2. R

    Hi there,

    Yeah some day I’d like to learn music braille, but I’m not even to contracted braille yet, so its a ways off. You should try and pick up that clarinet again! Maybe try playing along with some Benny Goodman? 🙂

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