Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Dog Isn't Howling, So We're Doing Just Fine

In my classic four-years-behind-the-curve way of functioning, I have just discovered Pandora radio. 

It is perhaps the most brilliant thing ever. With a click, I can listen to pre-made radio stations, featuring artists I like and artists like them. Basically, it's like getting a mix tape from a music-savvy friend, instantly.

In addition to learning that Michael Buble is sexy and that the soundtrack to Rent still makes me misty, I've been prompted to ruminate on my life as a wannabe musician.

I was in choir in high school. I was neither mocked and slushied a la Glee, nor was I revered and worshiped like, um, Michael Buble. I was average.

I can carry a tune, meaning that I rarely make dogs howl when I sing. However, I cannot sight-read to save my life. When people note (heh-get it?)  that something is sharp or flat, I nod my head, clueless.

I am the Paula Abdul of my personal American Idol, waxing on about "energy" and the "intensity of your soulfire" to cover up the fact that I have no idea what's going on. 

I didn't make the select choir back in my high school days. I never had the lead in a school play. I wasn't even especially popular with the other choir kids.  But yet, I would do it all again.

Why? Because it taught me humility. It taught me that things that look easy rarely are. I didn't know what was involved in making a song until I actually tried. Which is why, when I look at performances like this, I am suitably awed.

Choir taught me strange little things, such as the knowledge of  Latin phrases like dona nobis pacem. I  know the alto AND tenor parts of the Hallelujah Chorus.

Yes, I can sing tenor. Isn't that hot?

Thanks to high school choir, I understand that there is beauty in the collective, that the support of others can create a cathedral of sound. I have felt goosebumps in that magic pause between the final note and the return to earth.

 Perhaps, for a type-A perfectionist like myself, the most important thing high school choir taught me that it really is okay to act like a jackass sometimes. It's okay to let go. It's okay to stop being right, and it's okay to sing. And dance. And celebrate the fact that I can.

If I'm singing Neil Diamond while doing it, all the better. 


Jen said...

I didn't learn to sight-sing until I was a first year teacher. Yes, they gave me a music teaching degree without me being able to carry an effing tune. But when you're teaching a beginner french horn, ya gotta know what pitches they're supposed to be playing. I learned reeeeeal fast.
But there's no amount of money on the planet for me to sing karaoke. ;)

Jen at Laughing at Chaos

clearness said...

When I was in the 6th grade my music teacher made me sing alto and I was horrified. All the pretty girls sang soprano.

Also Michael Buble is talented but oh so full of himself. He's something like an 8 in my book but he THINKS he's something like a 20. This turns me way off and brings him down to a 3.

Ash said...

Ha - I just discovered Pandora a couple of weeks ago myself. LOVE it. Journey Radio is my guilty pleasure. Fergie radio too :).

I was in HS choir for two years. I think the director was desperate for warm bodies. Sight reading - you seriously just made my palms start to sweat.

Amy said...

I've been lovin' Pandora for several years. I think my favorite station is John Denver radio. Go ahead, call me a geek! I may be a geek, but I'm not a singer, though I always wish I were. I love to sing, but I'm not very good at it.

Muliebrity said...

I was an A-1 choir geek. Yurp. Including -Get this- show choir! No after school glee club for me, I got credit for that shit. I have a routine for "Free Ride" embedded into my being.

Coby said...

I totally love Michael Buble!!! Love, love, LOVE! When I was about 3 months pregnant with the twins, Shayne surprised me with tickets to his concert. Truly, a wonderful performance!

I'm sure your performance on the karaoke machine was equally impressive! ;-)

June said...

You just keep rocking the world with what you have!
(I can make dogs howl)

Formerly known as Frau said...

I love it! Sounds like choir taught you a great lesson...I should have done choir...all the alcohol in the world I still won't sing!

Heather said...

It was Pandora (also a late discovery for me) that showed me *I* am a huge Michael Buble fan, too - I didn't know until I made a "Harry Connick Jr" Pandora station and it kept playing MB. Who knew? Thanks Pandora!

I was a huge choir geek, but because I went to a snooty private school, we didn't have anything fun like show choir. No, we had a Madrigals select choir. Heck yeah, I was in it. I was everything from a soprano to tenor, depending on the year. Technically back in those days, I was a soprano (at least that's what my voice teacher told me at the time) but because I could hit the tenor notes and we had a dearth of boys who wanted to be in Madrigals, I wound up singing tenor for a little over a year. These days, I sing in our church choir and am decidedly alto. I don't think I can hit half the notes I used to up in the soprano realm. *cough cough*

I adooooooooore karaoke. Please tell me that the Neil Diamond number performed was Sweet Caroline. :-D

I love On the Rocks! I'm rooting for them in The Sing Off. Yes, as a choir geek, I adore The Sing Off and am a devoted viewer.


Jenny said...

I'm impressed! You can write AND you can sing AND you know about Pandora which I've never heard of.

Gonna have to check that out.

Happy Wednesday.

Mel said...

Well, I guess it's time for me to discover Pandora. I'm farther behind the curve than you. I sang alto in my church choir, long after the family stopped going to church. I stayed for the music, and to this day, simple harmonies and stained glass make me cry. So does Handel's Messiah, the Hallelujah Chorus and many others. I loved singing donna nobis pacem in the round! I did the high school chorus thing too, but we were a tiny farm school and it was pretty lame. So I had to get my fix with the Methodists! I could probably sing baritone now, and annoy my kids endlessly by insisting on singing harmony, not the melody line to any song. I am not brave enough to grab the mike and sing out like you are doing in the picture, and I envy your gusto and your flair! Thanks for a very fun post, and the Pandora link.

Kim said...

Hey, I was in the highschool choir and didn't learn nearly as much. But I agree, it's so important to stop wanting to be right and to let go. My husband will tell you that I don't know the meaning of the phrase let go but I'm working on it for the kids' sake.

Grimmgirl said...

We must be living under the same rock, as I haven't heard of Pandora radio either -- I've only just discovered Pandora jewelry! I'll check it out.

only a movie said...

I love your term "beauty in the collective" - which is why I loved singing in groups so much in high school and college.

I miss singing - I wrote about it last year at Christmas time (

Wish you were local - I'd love someone to come along with me to a Messiah sing along.

Watching the Sing-Off as I type...

Matty said...

I have heard of Pandora Radio but I haven't used it. Either way, singing is not my forte. When I sing in the presence of others, I'm often told not to quit my day job. As if I didn't know. LOL

That video was fun.

(Florida) Girl said...

I think it is beautiful when we can do the things that feed our soul, like dancing on furniture, just for the joy of it. You sing it, sister.

Joanna Jenkins said...

I didn't know about Pandora so thanks for the tip.
DAnce class as a kid taught me a lot of the thing choir taught you in school. And it was a good life lesson too :-)

LOVE, love, love the video.

Merry Christmas, jj

Anita said...

You Go Girl! :)

FabuLeslie said...

This post reminds me of marching band in high school. I played the trombone. I rarely practiced. I needed to. Your karaoke night looks like tons of fun!

Cat said...

I love Pandora. My use of it is about half brilliant indie stuff, half the Brittney Spears station.

Marla said...

You are so funny and poignant at the same time. Excellent.

Minivan Lover said...

I was a chorus geek too. And unlike Glee, we did not have jocks in chorus, much less cute jocks. Out guys were either gay or druggies. I wish the picture of you had an audio track as well :)

Erin said...

Um, yeah, I am one of the clueless ones about Pandora. I knew it was jewelry, but am a little behind the times. Isn't it something special you have to pay for---like satellite stuff? My hubs has fancy radio things in his car, but not I.

Love the photo of you singing! I can't carry a tune for shit.

*LLUVIA* said...

cooooooooooooolllll!! Gotta check out Pandora!
I sang alto when I was in choir and hated it! I wanted to sing soprano where all the cool kids were.