Occasionally I meet someone who says they might like to sing in the choir, but consider themselves not gifted with a beautiful voice. Well, I can relate to that.
When I sent my application for admission to Berklee College of Music in Boston, I indicated that my principal instrument was electric bass. After I got my acceptance letter, I applied for a songwriting scholarship. For this, I had to send in recordings of my own songs. I bought a used 16-track reel-to-reel tape machine, and I programmed the drums, and I played bass and keyboards and cello. I got a friend of mine to play guitar, and another friend to sing the
lead vocals. I sang some harmonies, and I edited the recordings and mixed them and put them on a cassette tape and sent it in. And I won the scholarship, which meant that I was able to attend the school. That was good, because I didn’t have any backup plans.
After a semester or two, I got a work-study job at the registrar’s office, where all the student records are kept. Of course I was curious to see my own file, so one day I
pulled it out and looked through it, until I came upon the evaluation form for my scholarship application tape. It said: “Good bass player… solid sense of rhythm. He’s not a singer!!”
Seriously: “He’s not a singer” – with two exclamation points. Of course, I understood that this comment was never intended to be read by me. Still, it stung. I had always been as self-conscious about my singing as anybody else… but secretly hoping that maybe I was really a brilliant vocalist, just waiting to be discovered. Apparently, that day would not come any time soon.
Well, eventually I got over it. I joined choirs again because I enjoyed it. I also took some voice lessons, mainly to be able to better communicate with the singers I was coaching. And I began leading songs in the congregations where I was working.
I doubt I’ll go down in history as a great singer, but in the end it’s really not about that. It’s about sharing and connecting through music, and whatever it takes to make that happen. So, if you have been considering singing in the choir (or contributing to our congregation in another way), I invite you to think about the joy it might bring to others as well as to yourself.