Last week at carolling practice didn’t quite go so good. Nobody there talks. The numbers are also steadily dwindling in the lead up to Christmas as people realise that they don’t vocally have what it takes. There’s only three people besides myself in the bass section and they’re all old codgers that keep on elbowing me in the chest (being about a foot taller than me) whenever I get anything wrong (a bit cheeky, since they mess things up more than me!) I also got told after practice last week by the music director that I had to concentrate more on my pitch and hold back a bit more. This was confusing and upsetting since I didn’t actually know what pitch was and had to look it up in a dictionary – I thought he meant that I couldn’t sing or something. It actually just meant the volume I was singing at (as far as I understand the concept).
I was actually thinking of not going this week, but at the last minute I decided that since I’d already started, I wasn’t going to give up. Just because I haven’t sung hymns in about eleven years doesn’t mean I can’t learn again. So I go back. I’m actually a bit late this week. They’ve already begun. One of the altos is late too and we come in together. She says that we’re on time and it was supposed to start at five. We sit down together. The Reverend beams at me and gets me a song sheet.
It’s getting more and more complicated every week. We have to do some ‘aahing’ of baroque complexity as the basses (why we get the most notes per line for every song is quite beyond me). One of the old codgers beside me keeps on hacking into a handkerchief the whole way through – he’s the guy that was elbowing me last week (thankfully I’m not standing next to him this time). The guy next to me is really helpful and points his finger on the song sheet for me to let me know where we’re going with the aahing and pacing. This time, I find that I’m leading the guy next to me quite a bit and I notice that he’s making basically the same mistakes as me, which is quite reassuring.
We finish the routine and the Reverend tells us it’s the final rehearsal next week and then the show. We’re asked to wear all black. One of the northern guys (who occasionally argues with the music director about the vocal arrangements and wanted to play the organ originally – and was refused) wants to wear green, red and white, since it’s Christmas. He’s not allowed. We pack away the chairs. All the men seem to disappear straight away, so I stick around to help the Reverend lift the electronic piano and carry it away. He asks me what I’m studying and then asks me if I’ve read any Doestovsky. I have, but tell him that my thing isn’t really Russian literature. While I wait around beside the store cupboard with this, as the Reverend tries to find the keys, the music director comes and asks me if I managed to find any MP3s of the songs since last week. I told him when he advised me on my pitch that I’d do some homework before coming this time and if it didn’t pay off, to tell me not to come again. I tell him I did find some – but that the arrangements were different and they seemed to have more soloists.
This week he’s very encouraging. He says I sang very well and he really noticed the difference. I don’t tell him that it’s probably because I just whispered the more complicated parts… He’s a very smiley chap and says he looks forward to seeing me next week. I like the way he encourages people very much.