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An Oldie But a Goodie: Confessions of a Choir Kid

If sotto voce or adagio don’t sound like fancy new pasta dishes, you may be a choir kid. If you can sometimes speak Latin better than English, you may be a choir kid. If you’ve ever been mad at someone for eliding syllables between words, you may be a choir kid. I certainly know I am.

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There are countless fond memories I have from my experiences in choir, from particularly poignant songs to friendships fostered along the way. But nitpicking the irritating moments is just so much more fun, and breed some excellent memes (as pictured). Whether in the open or behind the back after rehearsal, choir, like any other performance art, breeds judgement. In years past and the present, individuals and even entire sections of the choir get dragged through the coals. As you get older, it seems more deserved. After all, why join an adult choir if you aren’t proficient at reading music or finding the correct pitch?

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Vocal sections provide the clearest division between singers, and the stereotypes of each are somehow untrue and true at the same time. Sopranos do often receive the melody, which can make their part inherently easier just based off the arrangement while altos notes are frequently lost in the midst of a chord. Tenors and basses are vital to upholding balance in a choir, and when one or more sticks out, its fairly evident.

Having sung in both women’s sections over the years, I can confirm that a good amount of the judgements are true, but don’t reflect on the musicians in those parts.

Each person in a choir is talented in their own way, though sometimes restricted by their part or the particular song. Rather than cast any shade on a specific group, I will just let the people of choir be summarized by the image below:

 

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As any other family, choirs aren’t without their squabbles. When solos roll around, all bets are off. Music stands fly across the room accompanied by a flourish of sheet music. Betsy beats her competition Sandra over the head with a kitten-shaped metronome. Tenors belt out falsetto arias as basses chase them around the room with music binders in hand. A freshman soprano plays Heart and Soul on the piano, a beaming smile across her face.

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Solos release a strange mix of anxiety, competition, and support. You want to support your friends who are also trying out, all the while secretly hoping their voice cracks. In my senior year of high school choir, one concert included an a cappella version of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. Because nothing says rock-n-roll quite like nervous high schoolers in formal black.

Queen being one of my all-time favorite bands, the song felt like a godsend. I could dive even deeper into a song I already loved. We rehearsed for a long time, perfecting our makeshift guitar and drum sounds.

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One piece of the arrangement included a soprano section riff of the iconic guitar solo in the middle of the song, and it just wasn’t coming together. Too many people trying to sound like an electric guitar at the same time morphs into a chorus of Steve Urkels faster than one might think.

After missing a day of choir, I came back to class and the whole soprano section had decided that I should do the guitar section as a solo. “But you love Queen!” “You know like this whole song!” Appreciative that they believed in me but also feeling like I got saddled with an undesirable part, I accepted. We performed not only at our concert, but at school assemblies and even for a YouTube competition. Topped off with an awkward air guitar solo, it was truly the peak of my choir kid-ness. Yet looking back, I wouldn’t trade that uncomfortable performance for the world.

Choir isn’t without its perks. I mean, talk about the fashion! Have you ever picked out an overly modest monotone outfit at the mall and thought, “gee, I should really get one of these for 30 of my closest friends?” Who hasn’t? And if scratchy black velvet isn’t your style, there’s quite the selection of other runway ready looks.

Image via Harmony Dress

Brightly colored school themed robes are always a favorite trend of summer. Step out in royal blue polyester, tinged with coffee and sweat stains of the ten years of alumni who’ve worn it before you. It’s sure to get you noticed by that special someone as long as you top it off with a seductive pair of one-inch heeled character shoes.

Though certainly not without its quirks, I will forever sing the praises of growing up in choir. And a cheesy pun seems only fitting of a sometimes hokey but truly passionate group. While much of what sticks out in my mind about choir is the bothersome parts, I can’t even begin to describe the skills and experience I have gained throughout the years. So many of my closest friends come from choir. As nerdy and often tasking it can be, I will always be a choir kid, even if just in spirit.