Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Searching for Gareth Malone

... continued from The Incredible Gareth Malone (see previous post) ...

So where was this guy when I needed him?

I could have used his help at least once in my dismal attempts at choiring. Of which there have been three.

The first: when I was in grade 8 in Montreal our music teacher, Mr Hopper, thought to enter our class in a music festival. We trained and trained to sing two songs. One was Donkey Riding, and I can't recall the other. I was assigned to the alto section and actually knew my part (which never seemed t happen again — read on) and could hold it when all parts were singing. Unfortunately, my changing voice was neither here nor there, and I couldn't sing it very well, so when push came to shove, Mr Hopper decided that I should watch from the sidelines. At the time, I knew he was right in a way, but my adult self informs me that my little voice wouldn't have totally wrecked the performance and that I should have been allowed to be part of it. As it was, the class came in second out of three schools, and we were never going to take it on the road anyway.

Gareth couldn't really have helped me then, and he certainly had to be selective and cut kids for the China trip, but he could have helped me later when as an older teenager, I joined the church choir. It was an enthusiastic group, mostly made up of young people, and we were anything but polished. We'd meet for practice late on a Sunday afternoon, break for supper, and then sing our songs in the evening service. In a large charismatic church, enthusiasm was more important than ability, which was a good thing, for one or two practice attempts at a song certainly didn't leave me with a clear idea of how my bass part should sound. I often tried to listen and follow the alternating guys beside me, but they were usually as clueless as I. Eventually, when I moved on to university I suppose, I gave it up.

Along came attempt three many decades later: just a few years ago as a matter of fact. Our neighbour was involved in beginning a community choir. She overheard me singing, asked me to join, and I decided to give it a try. This choir was much better in terms of quality, but it was still more or less, and hear-it-once-and-then-sing-it kind of affair. That was fine for just about everyone else but not for this guy who couldn't read music — can't read it for singing purposes anyway.

If I could have been beside a strong singer, I might have been able to find my way, but of the three practices that I attended, I was the only bass at two. In point of fact, I was the only guy. Period. That wasn't going to cut it for me, so I gave it up as a bad cause. As time went on after my withdrawal, the choir grew, and there are now a number of bass singers. I attended their Christmas concert but have not been tempted to give it another go. Thrice bitten, thrice shy, I suppose.

I think Gareth would have found a way to help me though. I might have actually enjoyed singing in his choir.

Here is the Lancaster Boys Choir singing Fields of Gold when the choir was still in its formative stage of development. YouTube Link.


Woman in a Window said...

I remember wanting to so badly sing in a Christmas performance in grade five. I remember the teacher's ear slowly sliding by our line of singing faces. I think that ear was hairy. Messed up the accoustics. I didn't get the part.

If you want to sing - SING!

Kila said...

Loved the video.

My brother used to sing in very good a capella group in college.

I think my youngest boy is a singer.

I hope you get a chance to sing. I can totally picture you as a great singer.

Janet said...

I wonder how many potential singers Mr. Hopper quashed. Totally unnecessary of him.
The Mountain Man is in your situation. He can do it if he has someone next to him to follow, and plenty of time to practice.