Singing at home

Working hard, getting better, having fun

There were only eight of us today, and we were missing several of our key singers to Christmas concerts and other commitments. That meant that Ellen switched from alto to tenor (not a part she usually sings), Arnold was all alone in the treble section, and Sue was all alone in the alto section. On top of that, our regular pitchers were both missing; I asked Arnold if he would like to pitch, but his voice was feeling a little tender, so I wound up pitching most of the session. In short, most of us had to work a little harder than usual.

But working hard is not necessarily a bad thing. Several times, we reviewed different parts separately, which gave all of us a chance to brush up on our sightsinging skills, and sing a part we ordinarily wouldn’t sing.

As for me, earlier this year I had promised myself that I wasn’t going to learn how to pitch; I don’t need that kind of pressure for something that’s supposed to be a hobby. But I didn’t mind pitching for the Palo Alto singers; we are a forgiving and friendly bunch, and no one would get cranky if I struggled a little.

And it was hard work at times: you have to listen hard to the other singers, hear how high the high voices can go that day, and how low the low voices can go, and pitch the tunes somewhere in the middle. I have a pretty good idea of where many of the often-sung tunes should be pitched, but today’s class of singers was singing lower than usual; and I tended to overcompensate by pitching the tunes too low, and then when we sang the notes I could hear it was too low and I would have to bring it up a major second. But everyone was very forgiving, and Arnold and Ellen both were both there to help me out when I got into difficulties.

At the end of today’s Palo Alto singing, someone said, “I like it when we have to review the different parts; I learn the music much better.” I couldn’t agree more: that’s the whole point of a practice singing, to work on singing, and get better at it. And when you get better at it, it’s much more fun.