The past two nights I sang in a Christmas choir. This is something I try to squeeze in every year, even though it means 8 weeks of Sunday night rehearsals, half of them up in Barrie, an hour away. I just love to sing in a choir, and our director Barb is amazing. She digs up some fantastic pieces with beautiful harmonies, flowing poetry and either haunting harmonics or exciting pizazz. This year was no exception.
James was also asked to perform a solo for the concert, which is always fun for us to prepare. However, I was also asked to perform a solo this year! Me. Me with the major phobia of singing on my own. Me who much prefers to hide behind the piano.
Here's the story.
There I am, sitting in choir practice. We had been working on this fantastic southern Baptist-type song, full of "Glory glory" and "Hallelujahs," replete with sass and fun. I'm smiling away, belting it out, enjoying myself, when Barb announces there is a solo part. My eyes dart down to the music: it's for a man. Barb's eyes survey the choir and she asks a man sitting in the front row to take the solo. At this point nothing is even on my radar. But Barb's eyes don't go back to her music - they continue to scan the choir. Her eyes lock with mine and I hear the strangest words roll off her lips:
"Terri-Ann, will you take the next two lines?"
I respond automatically, without forethought.
Barb jolts. She looks up, confused.
"No. Sorry, no."
"Like, for real, for real?"
Now I'm starting to realize what my mouth is involuntarily saying, and I am beginning to feel bad. Barb looks like a deer in headlights. I figured she would just ask someone else, but she genuinely didn't expect me to say no, and so she is stunned in silence. Then, just as I reacted initially from a reflex of fear, my mouth keeps running on its own, and this time I speak out of compassion for a fellow musician who is just trying to pull together a Christmas concert of volunteers.
"Well, okay. I'll give it a go."
WHAT? WHAT WHAT WHAT WHAT WHAT WHAT WHAT?
Doth my mouth betray me?
But that was it. Barb smiled and cued the pianist. Just like that, I had a solo. Albeit but two lines, but you have no idea how big this was for me.
How did it go? Not bad. The choir is so big I had to sing it into a mic, which sprinkled a little more anxiety on the situation. I was a little frustrated at myself; it was two small lines, after all. A tiny little part in a huge program, and no one would likely even remember it after. Why was I making such a big deal out of it? Even knowing my reaction was involuntary didn't help.
The first performance went okay. My family was all there, which made me a little more nervous. My stomach was a bundle of nerves during the songs leading up to my "solo." Then, as I approached the microphone, all psyched up and ready to go, Benjamin (in the audience, about halfway back) saw me step up and suddenly jumped up on my mom's lap, reached out toward me and started calling out loudly. It set me off my guard as I worried about him being too loud. Before I knew it the piano was playing two notes before my cue and I didn't even have time to take a proper breath. I was just glad I came in at the right spot, with the right words, caught by surprise like that. Afterward I slipped back into my unassuming spot in the choir, glad it was over.
Last night went much better. I wasn't nervous leading up at all. I stepped up in time, took a good breath, and belted out my lines, smiling and full of cheer. I hit the notes perfectly. As I stepped back into the choir, my stomach erupted in nervous shock. That made me smile, because I knew that meant I had done well. You see, whenever I used to perform on stage (acting), I never had the jitters before the show, never experienced stage fright. I was always cool as a cucumber, until after I stepped off stage at the end of the show. Then my stomach would turn over incessantly and my hands would shake with fright. I was thankful for the familiar reaction, knowing it meant a performance well done.
Okay. I know some people must be thinking I'm crazy, writing so much detail about such a small thing. But it was a really big thing for me to do this. I'm glad I did, however, and I hope it will be one more small step to singing more performances. I really do love to sing, and have always wanted to have the confidence and competency to sing solos from the beautiful collection of music I have.