Tuesday, January 15, 2013

And just where is that dotted eighth note?


Back in 2006, I began my foray in to singing with a choir.  I had no idea I could sing or that I was a soprano.  All I knew was that one Sunday I was singing in church when a nice man turned around and asked me to join the singing group at the church I was attending.  I had NO music knowledge or education, and truly started from scratch.  They were so patient with me, explaining what a measure was and how to find my place in what we were singing.  I could not read any of it and it felt like a foreign language to me, but I knew that if I heard it, with repetition, I could sing it.   Those days were so frustrating as it took me forever to learn pieces, and the intimidation had me wanting to bolt many times.

Fast forward to 2008 when I returned to my "home parish" and was invited to sing with the choir.  This choir was no "occasional, casual singing group" but rather a well established, and wonderfully talented group of people.  It took me months and months to work up the courage to walk into that choir room, and when I did in November of that year, I was welcomed with open arms.  I've learned so much just by singing and doing and listening.  Our director knew my limitations, and was so very patient with me and my inability to "get" certain things without lots of repetition.  I found myself, more often than not, finding certain anthems we were going to do on YouTube, just so I could "hear" how they were "supposed" to sound.  It helped me tremendously.

This past October, our director left for another position, and one of our parishioners, who is multi-musically talented, was offered the position which she happily took.  She is much more knowledgeable about music and I can tell already that she will pull more out of our little group of singers than we've ever imagined.  But, she leads with the assumption that we all know and understand music theory. When she starts talking about singing "that dotted eighth note" just so, my eyes cloud over and I am hopelessly lost.  She knows this about me and has even offered to work with me, which I so appreciate, but the truth is that I am so very intimidated my friends.

I don't find myself ever counting when I sing and wonder if I even can.  I have no clue what my voice can and can't do.  And yet, I am anticipating that my brain won't "get" what I need to know in order to understand all the nuances of music.  It's very math based, and my brain is very language based.  I hate that I am letting myself be so very intimidated by the very prospect of trying to learn it all so that it makes more sense to me.  And, I secretly apologize to all the people who lived on my dorm hall at college and were music education majors.  I used to think to myself, "Huh, what on earth are they learning?" Oh, but now I know.

All I know is that I love to sing.  Let me hear something a few times and work on it with others and I can get it pretty well.  But, I need to know more, and I need to let go of the fear that keeps me from even trying to open my mind to what it needs to know in order to really read the music.  Fear.  It's a powerful thing.  Fear of failure or fear of feeling stupid because you just don't get it?  Fear holds us back from trying.  I have a paperweight staring at me here on the desk right now that says, "What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?" Indeed.

8 comments:

NCmountainwoman said...

Don't worry about the nuances. Just keep making a joyful noise!

Diane said...

It's very terrifying to think how much of our thinking and even our personalities are driven by fear. Me, too!

You have a beautiful voice, Jayne, and that's all that really matters, isn't it?? Diane

Beth said...

Well, since I have been paralyzed by fear far more times than I can count, I will say that for me, the one thing I've learned is that it's really helpful to take some sort of forward action. Even the smallest step forward not only frees me from the paralysis, but it helps me to feel just a little less fearful. Maybe you could just try a little session with your kind choir leader? She might even be able to suggest some books that are geared to those who are intimidated or a singing teacher who can help you overcome your fears. I just looked on Amazon and there are lots of books on music theory and singing for the intimidated that even include CD's. I'll bet there's even instructional DVD's that would be helpful. And that's something you could do at your own pace, without pressure. You overcame your fear of joining a choir, and it's become a great joy to you. So I know you can do this, Jayne---and please know that I'm rooting for you!

The Bug said...

I'm able to read music thanks to years of piano lessons, but I still have trouble with rhythm (well, I don't have any, so that could be the problem) & finding my note in the middle of the madness. It is NOT natural to me.

Our choir director sometimes records our parts & that helps me a LOT. I can hear the rhythm he's going for & work on learning my part before we get together & sing all the parts.

Robin said...

Jayne, let it rip girl! I've heard your voice and it's wonderful.
Fear be damned! Grasp the challenge and jump in with both feet. Before you know it, you'll be saying, "I don't know what I was afraid of!"
That's my pep talk of the day!

Laurie said...

I also sang in our church choir for some time Jayne, and felt the same way you do. Repetition worked the best for me too. Keep up the great work, you've shown us what you can do, you're fantastic Jayne!\xxoo

troutbirder said...

I'll go with Carolyns comment...
And a joyful noise unto the lord is all he asks for....:)

altar ego said...

Funny, I always understood that a gift for language translated to music! Music is patterns, and I think that with practice and the increased experience you have gained (AND confidence!) one day you will find that you can "get it." Or at least, get it enough. Learning to play an instrument DOES aid in the reading music, counting notes, and so on, but even though I did that years ago my best teacher is my ears. I understand the fear and the intimidation, and I also understand your love for singing. Let the love carry you, because it will.