Saturday, June 20, 2015

sing! sing! sing!

i have enjoyed singing pretty much my whole life.

nobody ever told me that i was good at it. i did band in middle school and high school. i started playing the piano when i was five and i moved on to trumpet and cello. but i still enjoyed singing.

it wasn't until i was in college that i decided that i could be a choir kid. so i joined chorale, the medium kid choir, halfway through my junior year and i enjoyed it immensely.

i auditioned for the alma choir, the big kid choir, and didn't make it in.

even though this was over two years ago, i'm still bitter about it because that group travels around the country and around the world and gets to wear cool tartan vests.

did i mention they travel around the world?

it's evident that i'm still bitter because i STILL have dreams where i've made it into that choir and i wake up upset and full of longing. like the dream i had last night.

like, honestly, i need to get over myself.

when i auditioned for chorale, doc, our choir director, made me sing a scale until my voice cracked. then he sighed and said, "well, you're an alto."

that was something that i was already painfully aware of.

in chorale my senior year, i stood next to my apartment-mate lindsey. we were both first altos, which means that we were the higher of the two alto groups. this suited us just fine but sometimes, sometimes, we had to sing up to a D, and that was difficult, man!

we sang a song called "ride on king jesus" and let me tell you, it got lowwww. like, drop it to the floor low.

it became an inside joke. we'd be sitting in our living room doing homework with emily, our first soprano apartment-mate that was in the big kid choir, and sing, "NO MANNNN CAN A-HIN-DUH MEEEE" as low as we possibly could.

then we'd bitch about not being able to sing disney songs.

frozen came out my senior year and we were consequently obsessed with it, as was usual. (frozen is actually really problematic in a lot of ways but that's a different post.)

me: i just want to sing a disney song? and not like, go into a terrible head voice?
emily: what are you talking about?
me: says the operatic first soprano with classical voice training.
emily: wanna take a buzzfeed quiz to see what type of food you are?

i was a burrito, by the way. i'm proud of that.

constantly singing in an alto range means that your voice will stay down there. while singing in chorale, i hardly ever had to go higher than a D. it also meant that i got to actually read music, which was fun, because that was something i'd been doing since i was four and i didn't like having to rely on the melody. i loved almost everything we sang, from the circle of life at homecoming to mozart's requiem mass for masterworks.

that's us singing the circle of life. i'm in the front row, can you find me?

choir was also how i met adam, so that's cool.

doc is always talking about choir couples. when we have the alumni concert at homecoming, which i unfortunately did not get to sing in this year, he always asks, "who fell in love on choir tour?!" and there's always a couple that's been married for ten years like, "we fell in love on choir tour!"

adam was standing behind me and he yelled, "what if you fell in love at festival of carols?!"

bless my man friend. bless him.

when adam was in scotland, he and doc were drinking at a pub and adam had to remind him that he was a in choir relationship. but doc forgot because i wasn't in the big kid choir, i was in the medium kid choir.

and such is life.

after i graduated and i sang loch lomond in my cap and gown and cried a little bit, i knew that i wanted to keep singing.

my dad is a singer. he has been singing his whole life. he did choir and show choir. he sang in college. he has a beautiful tenor voice that is slowly working its way down to baritone as he ages. (sorry about the aging thing, dad. but you're like... kind of old now.) he has sung in the church choir since before i was born.

and i thought, well why couldn't i be in church choir?

so i showed up at church and went to our choir director, melody (ISN'T THAT AMAZING?!) and said, "hey, i'm here to sing! i'm an alto."

and she looks at me and she goes, "oh my god NO we have too many altos. you're a soprano."

... okay.

choir practice for my church is on wednesdays at seven. unless i'm coming from work, my dad and i carpool. sometimes my mom accompanies the choir and the three of us all go together. we don't stand, we sit. there are like... twelve of us. total.

and i'm the only one under the age of thirty-five.

like, forreal. my dad is almost 55 and he's one of the younger ones.

there are three sopranos: me, leslie, and karla. we sit in the first pew. of the three of us, karla is the only real soprano. leslie used to be an alto like me, but we needed her to be a soprano so that's what happened.

most of the time we laugh and screech and let karla do most of the work when it gets really high.

have a descant? give it to karla. anything above an F? leslie will drop out and i'll just pray that i don't strain a vocal cord.

we sang a beautiful version of "here i am, lord" and it was hella high. i was practicing at home with my mom and my brother was like, "OH MY GOD CAN YOU STOP SCREECHING" and i was like, "I WILL HAVE YOU KNOW THAT THIS IS LIKE, FIVE NOTES OUT OF MY NORMAL RANGE".

i had to sing it the day after i coached a seven hour swim meet. i drank about eight cups of lemon tea with honey before that song and it was still terrible.

but after singing soprano for nine months, i've felt my range shift. which has been pretty cool.

the problem is, it's not expanding. it's just shifting.

i can't sing low anymore.

if lindsey and i were to get together and sing ride on king jesus, i wouldn't be able to hit the low notes below the staff.

i'm very happy that i can now sing a high F almost comfortably. but i miss my super low G's and my manly alto range.

since switching from alto to soprano and classifying myself as a mezzo soprano with my new range, i've come to know something that i didn't know existed: choir humour. 

it shows up on my tumblr dash occasionally and this is how i know i'm following quality blogs.

how many altos does it take to change a lightbulb?

none, none of them can get that high.


how do you know when a soprano is at your door?

she can't find the key and doesn't know where to come in.


i've also come to notice part erasure, which adam finds to be a rather sensitive subject. when i met him he was a tenor, but since then, he has become a baritone and sometimes a bass. honestly, he just kind of moves wherever doc wants him.

when he was a tenor, i used to tell people that he spoke like morgan freeman but sang like mariah carey. adam has a very deep speaking voice.

most of the time adam's a baritone. most of the time i'm a soprano but i'm really a mezzo soprano.

according to tumblr logic, there are four genders: soprano, alto, tenor and bass.


there's a whole thing about which choir parts go best with each other, like altos dating basses and basses staring at altos asses.

this is true. you can feel the basses standing behind you staring at your ass. you can feel it. and they talk about it. like, i know which asses were subject to the most scrutiny during four hour festival of carols rehearsals. because they would talk about it.

"ayyyy did you see the way that so-and-so's ass was moving when they did their step and clap during the virgin mary had a baby boy? DAMN GIRL."

i got my pay back when the men had a song and they stood in front of us. i took a picture of a bunch of the basses butts and put it on instagram and labelled it "CHOIR BOY BUTTS HEART HEART HEART".

i brought up this pairing with adam and i said, "what does that make us? the baritone and the mezzo?"

"invisible," he said sadly. "it makes us invisible."

my cousin matt, a true choir nerd and band geek, told me that it made us "UNSTOPPABLE AND AWESOME."

so here we are. the invisible unstoppable choir couple.

it was definitely a transition going from a fifty person semi-professional choir to a twelve person volunteer church choir. when we sang an easter song in latin, i got really excited and yelled "THIS IS JUST LIKE COLLEGE!" and then i consequently had to help everyone pronounce the latin.

choir members: how do you know this?
me: when you practice mozart's requiem for four months you kinda learn it.

i'm so glad i'm in church choir.

i wish that i had joined choir my freshman year and started in glee club. then i would've gone to chorale, and then by my junior year i would've been in alma choir. i could've spent two years doing that. (and i would've gotten my complementary alma choir fleece, along with the chance to travel around the country and around the world.)

but alas, i didn't get that chance.

but i did get a chance to sing. to work on my vocal technique. to expand my range.

i got a chance to sing and it was awesome, and i'm still getting that chance and i'm blessed. i love singing and whether or not i'm good at it isn't the point.

the point is that it's fun.


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