Disclaimer: This is going to be another very long post…
How quickly time has flown! Today marks the 29th month since I have auditioned for this choir. This short amount of time may be insignificant to many of my fellow choristers but to me, every month that has passed is some sort of accomplishment.
Choir has always been an integral part of my life and it is a natural progression for me to continue on my choral journey even after graduating from JC. The SYCES is a choir which I have always aspired to be part of ever since I was first introduced to it through the concerts I had to attend back then in secondary school. What I admired most about the choir is the dedication that the choristers have — how people from all walks of life come together twice every week to make music together despite their busy schedule, preparing for concerts and sharing their beautiful music with the audience. I am also honoured to have had the opportunity to sing with the SYCES on three separate occasions prior to my audition, during which I learnt more about singing and music, and of course, the choir and its choristers. These people who seem larger-than-life onstage suddenly appear less daunting after repeated interactions from the collaborations. Why, they are just as human as you and I! Even so, I never thought that I would have the courage to audition for the choir, if not for encouragement from schoolmates and constant prompting from SYCES members whom I made friends with from the collaborations. I am glad that I mustered enough courage to try, otherwise I will not be part of this wonderful choral family and neither will I be here, posting this today.
Being a considerably new member, it is inevitable that I get called out for octets more often than others. There are days when I wish “please don’t call me, anyone but me” but I have also my fair share of “me please?”, only to start quaking with fear both physically and vocally once the octet starts, much to my chagrin. This fear washes over my previous confidence and hijacks my brain, resulting in my loss of control over my singing. That is not the end to it, this fear even extends to giving comments on the octet, so much so that I say the most mindless things — something which I always deplore myself for, as soon as those very words come out of my mouth. However, I would like to think that I have since made friends with Fear and we have managed to make some sort of pact. Sure, I still have my “not me, please” days, but at least I think I am in better control of my fear now when I am called for octets.
There are also times when I get discouraged, not so much because of the criticisms themselves, but rather, over the inconsistency of my voice. “You sound hooty”, “Your vowels need to be taller”, “You need to connect your breath”… These are just some of the comments I would usually get. Surely after being a chorister for such a long time, I should know what needs to be done by now? Sadly, knowledge does not always translate to action despite constant prodding to my brain and singing muscles to do the necessary adjustments. Sometimes, I get so exasperated that I feel that I am a liability to the choir and should just give up. Thankfully, my love for choral singing always triumphs over these moments of mental weakness and motivates me to work harder to eradicate these problems.
My journey with SYCES is not a smooth one, both literally and musically. Juggling school, work and choir among many other commitments is never easy. Many times, I have quarrelled with my parents because they keep nagging at me to quit choir, claiming that “it’s taking too much of my time”. Being practical parents, they can never understand my love for choir and the things I am willing to forgo for it; yet they are supportive enough to watch our performances whenever they can and I always see the pride shining on their faces after each performance. For me, that is sufficient recompense for all their earlier displeasure. I have enjoyed my journey thus far, bumpy rides and all — whether it is the arduous process of learning pieces like “Twelve Flowers”, the “screwed” octets that I feel so ashamed of myself afterwards, rehearsing for the different concerts that I have had the pleasure to perform with my fellow choristers, the exposure to a wide variety of concert repertoire, the opportunity to sing under the baton of different guest conductors or the overseas trips and competitions. It is through these precious moments in the choir that musical bonds are forged and friendships are made, and I am appreciative of all the time spent music-making during rehearsals. In addition, being in this choir has allowed me to grow and mature not only as a singer, but also as an individual.
To end off, I would like to thank SYCES, for allowing me to be a part of you and I continue to give thanks for every month that I have spent happily and willingly in this choir with my fellow choristers. 29 months and counting! 😀
– Charlene ♫