In high school, I sang in the choir music, and I was pretty serious about it. Winning first place in the state soloist category for my grade two years in a row in the state of Texas serious about it.
I was blessed with an equally serious choir instructor. Our rural high school choir had a history of going to local, regional, and finally state competitions and walking away with trophies and medals every single time.
But it wasn’t about winning.
Not for him, not for us.
I’m convinced that we were a skilled – but not exceptionally so – group of students who had an excellent teacher. He drilled us, he made sure we could sight read sheet music (something many vocalists are not trained to do). We polished pieces of music, sometimes spending the entire period nailing a single measure. He had us all speaking like we were from the best English boarding schools instead of the backwoods country kids we actually were.
He made sure we had the technical skills, that we weren’t just depending on youth and enthusiasm to carry us across the finish line.
Then, usually right before we were set to go on stage, he would take our entire choir into a stairwell. For those of you who don’t know, the stairwell in your typical high school has excellent acoustics.
He would gather us together, tell us to put our music and our folders down, encourage us to close our eyes and sing. And we did.
(Pro tip: if you aren’t sure about all this magic stuff, head over to your local high school when the choir is doing this, and then come tell me how you changed your mind and realized magic IS real.)
Before we sang the first note he would ask us this question:
Why do we do this?
And he would answer the question:
We do it for the music.
I know that this meant something different for every single person in my choir and I also know we all understood it too.
The music is the notes on the page, the reason they were written in the first place, and the composer who wrote them.
The music is also the lineage of song, singing, inspiring deep feeling with the power of our first instrument, our voice.
The music is also coming together to create something bigger, grander, deeper, than what any one person could accomplish on their own.
The music is that which guides us and inspires us and depends on us to carry it forward.
It is different for each of us…and we all understand it.
We can give ourselves so many reasons for why we do what we do…but my petition for all of you this week? Do it for the music.
PS: This email and letter, like all of my writings, is written exclusively and 100% by ME, an organic, flesh and blood, human, lady. No AI, generative text, or Chat GPT-esque program has been involved in the crafting of these words.
If you like what I write then the kindest way to show that is to forward this to one person in your life today who might need to read it.