Back in the choir loft–a humbling and pleasurable challenge

FEBRUARY 26, 2016–Glad to be back in the choir loft

Last night was choir practice. Another night driving in the rain. I’m not good at this going-out-at-night thing; it makes getting up the next morning harder somehow.

I knew that was going to be a stumbling block to joining choir. But I am so glad I joined the choir.

I love how the music lingers in my memory after practice. The radio in my head plays the songs in a constant loop. It creates this peaceful little buzz.

I’ve been listening almost exclusively to choral and classical music for the past several years. Having been in choirs before, I know what it takes to learn these pieces. There’s a lot of tedium involved (and a LOT of waiting  if you’re a soprano like me). I didn’t think I had the patience to learn the music. Besides, despite five years of piano as a kid and a lifetime making music, I don’t read music well.

I also haven’t been in a choir since the 1990s. I did solo singing all that time and now I have learn all over again how to work in a group. It has been a challenge.

A good challenge. A humbling challenge. And a very interesting challenge. And a pleasurable challenge.

Matúš Benian Choir Psallite Deo, Flickr Creative Commons
Matúš Benian Choir Psallite Deo, Flickr Creative Commons

One of the first things I had to learn was how to breathe in a group. Believe it or not, it’s quite different breathing in a group versus solo singing. One night I nearly passed out during rehearsal because I didn’t do it properly (luckily nobody noticed!).

Next, I had to learn to balance the volume of my singing between blending with everyone around me and contributing something to the group. My first inclination was to totally lose myself in the voices around me–that was pulling back too much. Now I am starting to push forward again, still looking for that balance, but contributing more to the group.

Blending with others when you have a heavy vibrato is a challenge! It’s impossible to smooth out my voice completely (and I probably shouldn’t) and I have yet to strike the proper balance. But it will come.

As we learn the pieces, I love meditating on the words. When the music comes together and we sing the song from beginning to end, the prayer becomes sublime.

And then it lingers in my head for days to come.

Yeah, so worth going out at night. So worth getting to church early. So nice being with others at mass, making a joyful noise for the Lord. So great being part of a community.

Yeah, I’m glad I rejoined the choir.

Prayerful resources for your Lenten reflection

Lent is already well underway but perhaps you are still in need of ideas for your reflection. Click on any of the images below for blog posts, songs, videos podcast presentations and Flow Lesson exercises to enhance your Lenten experience:

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Do you have a particular spiritual practice that helps you draw closer to God? Please feel free to leave a comment and share–we can all use new suggestions!

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May you have a blessed Lent and a Happy Easter!

 

Thankful for simple gifts

This is a teaser to my monthly column on Catholicmom.com.

Some of the most wonderful gifts from God come in the form of whispers.

They are the small gifts. The gifts for a particular moment, not to be grasped at, but merely accepted. And if the taker is alert and awake, the heart will swell with gratitude.

On a Sunday not too long ago, I was the fortunate recipient of a bevy of such gifts.

First, a little background. For most of my life, I was a vocalist and songwriter …

The greatest joy as a vocalist was leading the singing at Sunday mass. My parish, St. Luke the Evangelist in Westborough, MA is a blessed community full of active, generous and loving people.

The church building is a minor cathedral, acoustically perfect with high concrete ceilings, carved pillars supporting graceful Corinthian arches, and shiny slate floors. Voices ring and linger in that sacred space.

Each Sunday I enjoyed the privilege of choosing the music and leading the congregation in prayer through song …

I led music for most of my adult life. In 2010, all that changed …

Click here to finish the post on Catholicmom.com. Feel free to post comments there.

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