The Power of Blend at Work
I sing in the alto section of my church’s choir. My range is actually in between that of an alto and a soprano: so I don’t cringe like the rest of the altos when we are called upon to sing in the soprano range. All I know is that I’m most comfortable singing Bette Midler, Carol King and Barbra Streisand songs: they’re members of my tribe and make good money at the singing gig. It would be fun to be them when I grow up as a singer.
In the meantime, I’m thoroughly enjoying the choir gig. We have fun and we have a marvelous musical impresario as our choir director, Gary. She’s a woman, and her given name is Gareth: a suitable name indeed for a noblewoman of music. My 10-year-old son Noah is in the Junior Choir. We choir kids adore Gary, who is also an avid gardener and dessert baker (and she shares!). Because of Gary, my voice has gotten stronger; I’ve learned to read music a bit better (I call myself the learning-disabled alto, as I sing mostly by ear and have never quite gotten the hang of reading music), and most importantly, I’ve learned how to blend my voice with the choir instead of instinctively belting it out like I’m on the stage in Vegas.
Gary manages both the adult and Junior Choirs with a firm hand both in person and via email. Because we only rehearse one (1) hour every Sunday morning before services, I get at least 3 emails from Gary a week; Here are some of her email communications:
Folks – This is Sundae Sunday so please have your kids go get their ice cream FIRST and then come right to Jr. Choir. They can finish eating in the Emerson Room! We will have Pam, the society choir accompanist with us for Peace Is. Thanks.
Folks – Usually the choir gets January off but we will rehearse again in mid-late January for the cabaret. I will let you know well ahead of time. In the meantime, enjoy the warm(er) weather!
First of all, thank you for spending time in preparation for your performance this Sunday! The Music Committee is very grateful. This Cabaret promises to be the best yet.
As you know, the dress rehearsal is this Sat. morning. You do not need to wear performance clothes. We will be checking microphones for everyone.
Both choirs are dressing especially for the cabaret. We want to have a professional look to the show and therefore are asking that blue jeans and t-shirts not be worn. Anything red is good!
See you on Saturday.
Sarah, Christine and Gary
Gary is a musical perfectionist and I am decidedly an amateur – Gary rehearses us rigorously and uses every bit of her weekly hour with us. However, when we sing well, Gary lets us know:
Folks – That beautiful bouquet should be divided many ways as Cabaret was a true team effort again this year. For members of the Music Committee, I will say thank you so much! Days are getting longer and the iris and tulips make me think spring is around the corner. Thanks as well for all your good and hard work AND major contribution to Cabaret. You sang beautifully and looked so smart! It was all just so much fun preparing for cabaret with you.
Thank you Jr. Choir for the best performance of that song EVER! You remembered all the words (hooray!) and sang out and well, you were a great hit. What did I tell you about the Albany line??? Great job!! See you on Feb. 26th when we will begin rehearsing again.
And Gary also shares good wishes from our “customers:”
To Gary and Choirs,
Holiday greetings, and thank you for the lovely music Sunday; it was a good antidote to the holiday music we hear in stores, etc. I’d much rather have your music running through my head this season!
Gary organized an impromptu welcoming gift from the choir for Madison, our lead soprano Christine’s new daughter, who arrived for adoption with one week’s notice. When Christine, Madison and Madison’s daddy Dan arrived as we sang You Are the New Day for the first time, we all wept with joy as Madison studied us seriously.
After we performed You Are the New Day in church, this note made it all worth it for me:
Well, I just HAD to write! This morning was some of the loveliest singing the choir has done! Several years ago the choir could never have done an a’cappella piece and today it was done with expression and diction and BLEND!! I have been on a high all day – music has that kind of power. George, former bass with the choir, spoke to me with tremendous emotion – he could not comment enough about the beautiful sound and blend, especially. Marta said the same thing. The point of being so picky is not just because I am obsessive (!) about those things but because without pitch and dynamics and blend and therefore, beauty, music loses its power to transform and uplift. And that’s our responsibility when we sing in the services.
What is the power of blend at work for you? Whether you inspire blend like Gary, or contribute to blend like a learning-disabled alto who sings by ear: how and when does the music you create at work together delight your customers? And you?