I love singing with other people and it’s one of the main reasons why I enjoy being in the choir so much. Sure, there’s safety in numbers, but I also adore how our individual alto voices blend into one sound, how we work together to get a piece right and how we support each other to get through the parts that might be a bit tricky.
So why am I here singing the solo alto part in a quartet, where everybody can hear every note that comes out of my mouth?
It’s a choir fund-raiser, that’s why, and I’ve gone so far out of my comfort zone that it needs its own postal code. And yes, I know that I’ve taken the less-scary option because I’m not by myself but with three other people.
Running a choir is expensive, and we’re always looking at new ways to raise money. One fun way has been that people have organised events that other choir members can sign up for – and pay for. So far, I’ve been on two museum tours and a talk about Anna Karenina. This time, two wonderful people in the choir have offered up their house plus dinner, to host a Singing Masterclass, run by the amazing Janet Shell.
And recklessly, I’ve signed up to do this.
I’m going to learn something new and pay some money to the choir-coffers. It’s not a competition. We’ve practised our little quartet. The people listening are other choir members who are probably as nervous as I am. I keep telling myself all of that, but still my heart is racing and what’s in my stomach doesn’t feel like butterflies but more an elephant running around.
The first time we sing the Benedictus from the Mozart Requiem, all that goes through my head is: Don’t get it wrong. Do not get it wrong. But under Janet’s expert and kind tuition, I go from concentrating on singing the right notes at the right time, to making music and enjoying it, and by the time the audience turns up and we sing it one final time, it might actually have been a performance? Either way, when we’re done, I’m so pleased with what we achieved that I’m grinning from ear to ear.
It was a wonderful afternoon of music making where we all learn as much from listening to other people sing their pieces, as we do from our individual instruction.
Over dinner and a glass of something, we talk about how great it’s been. We’re all buzzing from achieving something special, from having pushed against our personal limits and succeeding.
Next Tuesday it’s choir rehearsal time again. I’ll be with my fellow-altos again. I’ll do what I love doing again. I don’t aspire to being a solo-singer but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience of the Masterclass tuition and of singing the Benedictus quartet that a few weeks ago, during our concert performance of the Mozart Requiem, I was only listening to.