In fact, my mom once told me that I actually sang my first words. I was a late talker, which worried my parents. However, the doctor assured them I was okay and as soon as I had something to say I would start talking. This proved true when one afternoon my mom heard an unfamiliar noise coming from my room. Turned out it was me in my crib, singing a lullaby to myself.
It was a relief for my parents and the birth of a lifelong passion for me.
Over the years, I’ve enjoyed opportunities to sing in various formats and venues. But I think none is more interesting or challenging than singing in a quartet; four different voices — soprano, mezzo-soprano (also known as alto), tenor and bass — coming together to make music.
Last fall at church we began planning for Christmas and the season of Advent. (It seems strange to be writing about this in March!) While a group of us were brainstorming, we landed on the idea of singing Christmas carols in the church lobby before the start of each service in December. My husband and I took on the challenge of organizing this activity.
We decided to form a quartet and asked two friends to join us. Together we selected about a dozen carols and set about learning the four-part harmony to sing them a cappella. It was a great experience and people coming to the services really seemed to enjoy the opportunity to listen and join in. (If you are on Facebook, you can watch a short video clip on the Trinity Church Streetsville page, posted on December 21.)
Well, Christmas was months ago but Easter is coming! Our quartet (we’re now trying to come up with a name) has decided to get together again to sing at the Good Friday and Easter services. We are in full rehearsal mode.
As we continue to sing together, it’s occurred to me that I am learning some important life lessons in the process. Here are some of them:
- Listening to each other is absolutely vital! The notes are meant to work together, not clash (except in certain brief instances where it’s intended to create some interesting musical tension). To stay on key, we have to be able to hear each other. No one part should drown out the others.
- Interdependency is a good thing. None of us can do everything. We need to rely on each other.
- Everyone’s part is important. If one part is missing, the result just isn’t as good. Our alto has been sick this week and while we are continuing to rehearse, she is keenly missed!
- There’s strength (and courage) in numbers. I don’t particularly like to sing solo, as I can get really nervous and forget to breathe. But it’s different when I’m adding my voice to others.