Storm Coming!

It's a Little Pitchy


Yesterday was World Choral Day -- and the prompt for Holidailies yesterday asked "Are you a singer, or do you prefer to listen to others sing? What was your most memorable choral experience?"

I am not a singer. I used to think that I was. I sang at Girl Scouts, I sang in Glee Club in high school, I sang in college with all my other dorm mates as cute guys played guitars. I thought I had a pretty good voice and I loved to sing.

Then... I found out that I really don't have a very good voice. Basically, I can carry a tune in a bucket, but that bucket has several holes in it. Maybe that's why I didn't get a solo in our Glee Club version of Messiah! So, I don't sing much anyone, at least in public. I still holler in the car or the shower, but I rarely sing with other folks.

I used to think that the reason I couldn't sing very well was because our piano was way out of tune, so when I took piano lessons I got used to hearing notes wrong. Well, that theory fell apart when I took a battery of aptitude tests from the Johnson-O'Connor Foundation. One of the aptitudes they test you for is pitch discrimination. The test went like this: I wore a big pair of headphones while I listened to pairs of notes, one after the other. After listening to each pair of notes, I had to indicate whether the second note was higher than the first, lower than the first, or the same as the first.

Well, I was pretty lousy at this. It really was one of my worst results. On the other hand, I did really well at the rhythm test! When the facilitator went over the results with me, she said that having lousy pitch discrimination didn't necessarily mean that I shouldn't or couldn't play music. I should just choose instruments that played to my natural aptitude for rhythm rather than pitch.

Percussion it is! (Or the use of electronic tuners.)

But back to choral experiences. I think that the most uplifting and inspiration choral experiences I've ever had were the times that Joe and I went to the National Cathedral to hear Messiah. They do a brilliant job! They do the whole oratorio, using the combined choirs, featured soloists, and musicians playing period instruments. I pretty much spend the entire performance with tears rolling down my cheeks, especially during "For Unto Us A Child Is Born", "He Shall Feed His Flock", and (of course) the "Hallelujah Chorus".