tales of a girl in the city

mai 06, 2005

Choir Nerd

A radio broadcast I listened to recently featured people bragging about the valuable life lessons they learned from being in high school band. They talked about how band instilled in them a feeling of community and belonging, blah, blah, blah.

I was never in band. I played violin briefly for a few years. But violin, as all of you community-oriented, well-adjusted former band members know, is not a band instrument. And try as I might, I could never think of an appropriate string part to incorporate into Louie, Louie. So, no band for me.

What I had, instead, was chorus.

Choir, and singing in general, defined me. Which is to say, I was a total dork. Other kids tracked the passing of the year according to sports season or school vacations; I navigated time according to medley.

Our limited choir budget required that we recycle the same song medleys year after year. Thus, the sixth graders always did the Disney Medley, the seventh graders did a medley of famous commercial jingles over time, and the eighth graders lucked out with the medley of music through the ages, featuring such just-right-for-four-part-harmony 80's tunes as Every Breath You Take and Maniac by Michael Sembello. "I can't wait 'til I'm in eighth grade," I would think. "Surely Andrew Morter will love me when he sees me rocking out onstage to Flashdance."

Little did I know that Andrew Morter would leave Choir for Tech Ed as soon as we could choose our Electives. And that Jodi Supenovich would ultimately be given the Flashdance number, while my efforts to "rock out" on my measly four measures of Maniac, were systematically relegated to obscurity by one Jennifer Schwengall's sultry coinciding dance solo.

BUT, in the blissful years before the Flashdance debacle and Andrew's sad rejection of all things musical, I lived out my entire unrequited love-life during each precious choir period. In fact, that I got to slow dance on-stage with Andrew for the duration of When You Wish Upon A Star, was, to me, the defining moment of my adolescence. Partnered with him because of height, I thanked God for each and every matching inch of us.

It was the best three eight-counts of my life.

Anyway, as I sat listening to this radio program touting the wonders of band, I began to think about choir, and about what--if any--lessons it had taught me. Mostly, I have concluded, it was just fun. It was an outlet for my own intensity, my own drama. Standing with my feet shoulder-width apart, and my hands in sharp jazz position, I could be strong and bold and beautiful--all the things that a chunky twelve year-old who stunk at sports and carried around Victor Hugo's Les Miserables on her book pile could never be in regular life....