Sunday, December 16, 2012

Boring stories of glory days

I’d already posted about my favorite Christmas music when Harriet decided to host this holiday blog go round; if you'd rather read about my four favorites plus a bonus fifth song, they're right here. Otherwise, I'll tell you a story.


So far, we've heard from:

Harriet at spynotes
Hugh at Permanent qui vive
Jeanne at Necromancy never pays
Cranky at It’s My Blog!
Readersguide at Reader’s Guide to…
Freshhell at Life in Scribbletown

Over the years I've played so many Christmas or holiday concerts that I feel a little immune to the wonders of the music. It's like watching a show from backstage, you see all the less glamorous stuff that goes on behind the curtains. And really, once you've played Leroy Anderson's Sleigh Ride 100 times, it gets pretty old and it's just not as much fun (unless the percussion section screws up the whip sounds, in which case it's fun in a painful sort of way).

Years ago, when I was still an oboist but could see the end of that thanks to my arm, I'd started singing more frequently although I avoided the so-called serious genres of music. I stuck mostly to rock or pop music unless specific music was requested for the gig. Although I’d been an oboist for a couple of decades, I didn’t have nearly as much vocal training as I’d had on my instrument so I was intimidated by singing anything more legitmate. I’ve watched plenty of singers who aren’t well trained try to do that, and to me it’s like putting on clothes that don’t quite fit. I was also still adjusting to not having the instrument to hide behind, and on top of that, my voice teacher refused to let me sing alto any more. "Like most women, you're a chickenshit soprano," she said.


That particular year, I'd done all the usual Christmas concerts both for the military, college and church. But we'd also scheduled a Sunday evening recital at church with the vocalists choosing what they wanted to sing. I figured I'd been studying voice for a while and my voice was in pretty good shape and besides, I wanted to try something new (and above the staff). So with my newfound vocal bravery or perhaps it was just pure foolishness, I picked an aria from The Messiah, I Know That My Redeemer Liveth. Then another singer asked if I’d sing a duet with her, also from The Messiah, And He Shall Feed His Flock. I was very flattered, she had some serious vocal chops so I said yes. 

Please don’t think for a moment that I believe my voice sounded anything like what you’ll hear in this clip or the next one. Because it most certainly did not. But I didn’t shame myself.

And I didn’t shame myself in the duet either.

That recital was a pivotal event for me. I was in my early 30s, and had been told that fall that the tendonitis I'd developed from being an oboist wasn’t going to go away, that the damage I’d already sustained was probably permanent and that I needed to stop playing. I’d been so nervous, felt so inadequate as I started doing more singing but that night showed me it would be OK. Even though singing would never be as satisfying as performing on oboe, I realized there was life for me post-oboe and my fear needed to go. So that recital marked the beginning of the end of my deep sadness over losing something that had been part of my life for a couple of decades. 

This is the eighth blog post about holiday music. Next up is My Kids' Mom at Pook and Bug. After My Kids' Mom, we have:

joyhowie at The Crooked Line
Magpie at Magpie Musing
And the bow on the package will be  a wrap up by Harriet at spynotes


Jeanne said...

I've wondered how you survived no longer being able to play an instrument that had been so much a part of your life.

Chickenshit soprano, indeed. Once a soprano who was still traveling and singing in operas proved to me that no matter how low a woman's singing voice, the speaking voice is almost always a note on the treble clef.

kittiesx3 said...

I think I'll always miss it but the sadness is far less these days. Although sometimes I still have performance dreams and waking up from those is hard.

You and I have talked about the respective roles that poetry and music have in our lives. For me, I always (and I do mean always) have a soundtrack running through my head. That helps.

crankygirl said...

Chickenshit soprano, ha! I resemble that remark. Also, your Kitty picture is beautiful.

FreshHell said...

We should team up! You as "chickenshit" soprano and me as the world's laziest piano player. :)

Magpie said...

I'm so not a chicken shit soprano. I WANT to sing the queen of the night, but I'm a 2nd alto.

kittiesx3 said...

Magpie, you are not most women :D

Joybells said...

I love this post, the previous one you did, and the comments that have followed. And is there a better choral part than "chickenshit soprano"? I think not. I hear it like this, "Okay, who'd like to sing the chickenshit soprano on this one?"