Tuesday, April 08, 2014

I Guess "It's All Relative"

Our church has far more than her fair share of musicians.  In addition to organ and piano, there are flutes, strings, and various horns.  And the voices!  Plenty of good singers, especially one soprano who is second only to Julie Andrews in my book.  Ahhhhh, lovely!

Sometimes I feel so inferior, so inadequate.  In some of the congregations I've been in, I was one of the top-notch musicians, one of few who could play a little piano and read music.  Here, I keep thinking that I should quit choir so that the rest of the group isn't dragged down by my voice.  (I remember so clearly the reunion of our high school choir, with tapes playing of our concerts.  The girl with the prettiest voice heard the spot on the tape where I had a brief solo, and she wondered who that was and didn't remember anybody with that poor a voice ever being in choir.  That's the kind of thing people don't say to your face, but sometimes the truth spills out accidentally.)

And then I was visiting at my mom's church a few weeks ago.  Heading out to the parking lot with a friend, a stranger stopped us.  "Do you go to church here?"  No.  "Could you?"  No.  "Why not?"  I live in Wisconsin.  My confusion grew as she joked that I commute each week.  Then she explained: "You have a beautiful voice.  It would be great to have you here singing every week."


Even though, in my environment, I have a barely mediocre voice, that little comment gives me the courage to remain in choir.


  1. Aw, I'm sorry for what that choir girl said. Not nice. But think about this. Not having a strong solo voice (as most of us don't) does not mean you are not a great asset to the choir. Not everyone can be Gladys Knight. Some of us have to be the Pips! And your musical skill--being able to read notes and rhythms and having a good ear and following the conductor--all of that is so very valuable. Sometimes the solo voices can't do that as well as the ensemble ones. They need us to support and help them shine. You are an important part of the machine, Susan. Don't doubt that. (And yes, you are right that there is some relativity at work here. I think I'm a pretty good pianist. Until I hear certain other people. Then I wonder why I bother! But remember the danger of the comparison game. It is usually not helpful!)

  2. Thanks, Cheryl. You're right. I guess where I'm coming from right now is that it's hard to continue when you feel that you're a detraction instead of an asset. And I so seldom feel that I'm helping instead of hurting. (On the other hand, last Wednesday, several of the "leaders" in choir weren't there. We sang with a smaller-than-normal group, and without the strong voices. And Pastor told us after church that it was the best we'd ever sounded on that Praetorius piece. That too was an encouragement to keep on keepin' on.)

    About the girl who made that comment: she wasn't being mean. It really was genuine surprise on her part. She didn't remember that section of the concert. And the three soloists on that song were not the "shiners" that usually sang the solos. The girl is a real sweetie, tender-hearted, kind, quite dear all-round. She just didn't realize that her comment was being made in the presence of the person she was unknowingly referring to. (And that's where the truth comes out.)

  3. Here's another thought I had. High school was a long time ago. You have had the benefit of great musicians and a great choir director and have no doubt continued to improve as a musician since then. My guess is that you are not giving yourself nearly enough credit for what you bring to the choir.

  4. And I'm not surprised Pastor said that was the best Praetorius ever sounded. The more soloistic voices might actually get in the way of the pure tone quality he is probably aiming for in that case.

  5. What Cheryl said.

    And I will emphasize that you are not giving yourself enough credit. I've heard you sing and I remember that you have a lovely voice. So stop listening to that voice in your head that tells you mean things. :-)