I’ve played many solos on piano and oboe. While I wouldn’t call those exactly fun for the most part, they were bearable. But singing solos? Now there’s something I could not enjoy in any form.
Yet, when I was a child, I was at church children’s choir each week. And since I was so “faithful” and could carry a tune, I was a prime candidate to sing solos. I remember sitting there with dread when the director would call the names of those given solos to sing: please not me – please not me – please not me … darn!
My mom had a different opinion. Usually she would try to bribe me to go through with the solo. We had a paperback back called “100 Things to Make with a Box” or something like that, and she told me I could look through it and choose anything and she would help me make it if I sang the solo. I caved. I can’t remember what box creation I chose.
I do remember one choir solo specifically. The entire choir sang most of the song (“Where Do We Go From Here?”), and at the end I sang Anywhere with you in control of my life will be alright with me. I have a pretty low voice. And yet, this was a high solo. It went up to a D, which was really pushing it for me. So, in addition to singing this solo, I had the added stress of trying to sing way out of my range. The horror!
Aside from choir, mom sometimes had my sister and I sing duets in church. I remember suffering through “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam” up there at the altar. And unlike many pop stars, no – I did not go on from my lowly beginning to win a grammy or any other award for my singing.
I was also chosen for singing glory at school. This was quite a mystery, although perhaps not really. In sixth grade, the music teacher we had was sadly quite a joke. Kids regularly threw spitballs at him, acted up in class, and generally created chaos. However, being the obedient kid that I was, I always sat there nicely, singing along to the various songs in the worn lyrics packets he handed out each class. “Mack the Knife,” “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s my Brother,” even “The Ballad of Rodger Young” (fought and died for the men he marched among!) – to this day, I can recall most of the words to those from that awful music class.
Anyway, one November day the teacher asked me, my friend Miriam, and Beth to stay after class. Yikes! What had we done wrong? Nothing, in fact: he wanted to ask us to sing a trio in the Christmas concert (yes, in those days we still called them Christmas concerts). Oh man – once again, my good behavior had gotten me into trouble – incidentally, not the first nor the last time this has happened. He rehearsed with us at noontime, “Some Children See Him,” and “Born to be King.” Honestly, I can’t remember which one we ended up singing. I know that he wanted us to sing in parts, but I guess that didn’t work out because I think we remembered belting it out in unison.