One of the unexpected benefits of my Fed-funded sabbatical was learning to sing. I discovered that one of the other guys taking a break from real life was a classically trained baritone singer. I thought that singing occasionally might be a great way to escape, so to speak, from the routines of the day and asked him if he’d be willing to spend some time working on it with me. He was thrilled, and with some ideas from “Singing for Dummies”, we began a journey that would last about 18 months and change my life.
I had always sung in church, or at least, did what I thought was singing, but Scott helped me to overcome that disability. Twice a week we met in the music room and worked on posture, breathing, expanding the chest, utilizing head voice…all the other things every novice studies on the path to singing (better). I learned that singing was not just speaking more loudly and slurring words together, but an entirely different function of the body. Eventually I was able to lead with some confidence our fledgling Catholic group in singing a few well-known hymns and chants at our weekly meetings.
But the real payoff came when I got home, and it wasn’t my conscription into the choir; one night I heard one of my boys singing Tantum Ergo or some other chant he’d heard at Church and stopped in my tracks while he effortlessly sung the notes an octave or two above how they had been written and realized there was substantial raw talent there. I quickly had him run through some songs I knew he was familiar with and found that #5 was truly gifted.
Soon I had the entire family in the living room singing various songs they were all familiar with, and trying to listen to the individual voices. Through a process of elimination I discovered three sopranos with amazing natural talent. #5, #6 and #7 all had such pure voices it could make a hardened career criminal cry-or at least get goose bumps. So I mentioned it off-handedly to our pastor, and the choir nazi, both of whom urged immediate, formal evaluation.
The next afternoon the three candidates and I went to the church and found the two men waiting nervously for us. They started out with a few basic exercises and I could tell from the size of their eyes that both men were delighted with what they were hearing. Within minutes we agreed on a practice schedule and their enlistment into church service.
What follows is their first-ever public performance. When they hit their first notes perfectly and in unison, every waking person in the church turned to see just where that sound had come from. Enjoy!