Last week I had the most wonderful pleasure of singing in a choir for the first time in I don't know how long. My friend invited me to join her in her newest choir (because she sings in several, of course), a group of like-minded ex-pats that convinced a very passionate Swede (I didn't know there were any of the sort) to conduct them on Thursday mornings.
I grew up singing. I grew up singing because I wanted - no, needed! - to be the next Amy Grant. In case you're not familiar with either the Christian Pop/Rock scene or the scandalous Country Music scene, know that Amy swung through both with gusto, was gorgeous, and I was determined to be her BFF. Seriously. I joined her fan club, "Friends of Amy", otherwise known as FOA.
I grew up singing in any choir that would let me in, excluding my 6th grade choir that I resigned from after a nasty run-in with the choir director. All I said was that no one wants to sing a song about hats and he gave me detention. If I'd known it would strike such a personal chord with him, I would have rephrased.
My singing days went the way of the wild once I left high school. In college I was too shy to audition for any groups, presumably stemming from my horrific music competition incident. I took voice lessons with a true professional throughout my middle and high school years. In preparation for the MACSI - later changed to ACSI - yearly arts competition, my professional voice coach and I labored over an Italian classic that I have since banned from my memory. In our lessons, I like to think that I achieved a certain reign over the piece. I really threw myself into the Italian. I loved the idea of speaking another language, and since I was far too undisciplined to master anything in my German class, memorizing songs in other languages was as close as I was going to get.
On the day of the competition, I dreaded the moment when I would have to stand up in front of all my peers and belt out my masterpiece. The confidence that adorned me in the privacy of my lessons did not join me in public settings, and I felt naked. When 2:15 finally came, I nauseously made my way to the front of the room and handed my music to the judges. The accompaniment began, and I came in as appointed. Things were rolling along at a mediocre pace until about half-way through when all the Italian left my brain. I had no option but to improvise. But -- with what? As all the Italian I knew was in those lyrics, I dug into my last resort: spaghetti sauce. I rolled together my Prego's and Ragu's quite nicely, and my have thrown in a dulce de leche, figuring Spanish is close enough to Italian. When it was over I knew I would not win; and yet, I could not help but feel rather proud of my MacGyver move.
Fortunately for me, this Thursday morning choir is not comprised of professionals, neither of the musical nor the spaghetti sauce variety. It's mostly a bunch of middle-aged women looking for a way to express themselves, sometimes in Swedish, sometimes in German, sometimes in English. The high notes are a bit flat, and at least one is - quite frankly - tone-deaf. But we laughed together and sang the best we could, and it totally threw me back to my creative youth.