07 March 2017

Keeping Our Talents Out From Under The Bushel

This is more of a cautionary tale than anything, lessons I am learning from pulling a talent out from under a bushel. Music has always been a part of my life, but once I left home I decided I was not going to sing in a church choir anymore. I just didn't like doing it and had done it from 12-18 years old. Much like a prison sentence, I felt I'd paid my debt to choir society and I wanted to be freed from life in choir prison. I continued to sing to the radio, with my family and sometimes with friends but I retired from any real kind of performing unless it was Christmas carols or camp songs.


Teaching kiddo to sing and have music in her life was important to me, so in our home music has been a priority, including getting her involved in band this year. Which, I'll confess has not gone that well - the band part of that. When we moved to Albuquerque people in our new church congregation would hear me sing during the congregational hymns and the pressure started turning on about why I wasn't in the choir. Then the ward music director asked if I wouldn't sing in choir if I would be willing to perform with a small group in services sometime. I would rather do that than go to choir every week, even though we have an amazing choir at our church,  -- it was a one-time commitment, so I agreed...still not really feeling excited about it.

So it's come my time to perform and I'm singing a bass part which as an alto is a challenge! We are singing a fairly challenging piece and I am singing in the bass clef which is very hard to do when you are used to singing the top lines of the sheet music. It has not been easy. I realize I have a much harder time reading notes, I've forgotten the count of some notes and I have forgotten many of the music terms, in Italian of course. Being able to construct the sounds of the notes in my head is a challenge too. My voice muscles are not as fit as they once were, it's a challenge for me to stay on key to hold long notes, my throat gets tired faster and I just don't have a lot of vocal stamina. After practicing on my own for an hour and then with the group for an hour last night my throat felt like someone had worked it over with sandpaper and my voice sounded laryngitis-y.

Then there is the whole process of knowing all the words and intonations, while at the same time reading the notes in the bass clef, holding them for the right amount of time, breathing in the right places, getting louder and softer at the right times. It's a LOT to manage, but even more so when you're rusty at all of it. I definitely feel out of my element with all this at this point in my life, especially since I am performing with professionally trained musicians. Ack!

Thankfully, at home we have a professional size keyboard we bought second hand a few years ago that I can use to practice. Thankfully I can still read and find the notes on the keyboard. Thankfully it's coming back little by little. But boy do I have a lot of practicing to do before Sunday. Facing this challenge has gotten me more in the musical groove and I think I would like to stay a little more fit and familiar in the music realm. I should play the piano a little bit now and then as well and finally commit to learn to play my ukulele well. I actually enjoy doing all these things when I can do them on my own terms.

I need to start thinking about my talents and ensuring that there aren't others rusting away under a bushel as well. There are definitely some you can pick up and put down more easily than others. But it's true you'll lose them if you don't use them enough. This experience is a good reminder for me even though it's a little painful.

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