Singing the praises of joining the choir

I stepped out of my comfort zone this last week. I’ve always loved music and whenever possible, I sing along with it … Jim and I are seasoned “car radio singers.” We know every word to the old country-western songs which Jim has always loved and the ’80s and ’90s country songs that our daughter played on the radio while at KUGN-FM. We frequently listen to them today as we make our way through town or on vacation.
As a teenager, I loved and appreciated classical and semi-classical music, too. One of my favorite classes in college at Linfield was my music and art appreciation class, and I used to enjoy putting one of my semi-classical records on the record player while doing housework as a young housewife. I had several albums of them along with my beloved Ricky Nelson and Elvis records that kept me on task and made housework seem to fly by.
I can remember, about the time I was in junior high, singing “O Holy Night” over, and over, and over again for my mother, who accompanied me on the piano, while she recorded it into a tape recorder before Christmas one year. I loved that song and never tired of singing it, but I never knew what happened to that tape or what she did with it after it was recorded. I think it was lost in one of our many moves. To this day, I love Christmas carols – the old ones especially – as they are so familiar to me.
As much as I loved to sing, I was part of a choir for a short time. I sang in a ninth-grade a cappella choir in Eureka, Calif., before our family moved to Portland.
As a shy newbie freshman girl in Portland, I tried out for the school choir and nervously sang an audition with two other girls. I was told I had perfect pitch and was welcomed to the choir, but when we adjourned, the choir director sent us all home with sheet music to study before the choir met again. I did not have any background in reading music, panicked and did not show up for the next practice.
I quit the choir because I felt I was way out of my comfort zone. I’ve always regretted “chickening out” and have since, I hope, become much more responsible.
So, this past week, it was with an admitted bit of trepidation that I agreed to join my two neighbors in attending the organizational meeting of the new community choir that is forming at the Applegate Regional Theater. My voice is not as strong as it once was and I can’t reach the higher notes as I used to. It also frustrates me that my voice breaks and wobbles. Of course, I am 77, so I guess that’s to be expected.
Last Tuesday night, those of us who showed up for the first rehearsal were handed sheet music and were asked to sing “Carol of the Bells” as a group to show the director what we sounded like so we could be assigned our parts. Thankfully, there were no auditions, but I was suddenly back in the ninth grade, trying to figure out how to sing the alto parts that did not follow the melody in any way and were completely foreign to me because I was not able to read the music. I ended up stumbling through the rehearsal, thinking over and over again, “I can’t do this!”
Toward the end of the evening, I began to catch on a bit by listening to my neighbor, standing next to me, and allowing myself – for now – to sing the melody until I could gain a little more confidence and better understanding.
I’m not going to give up this time as I did almost 65 years ago. I’m going to give it my best shot.
If interested, rehearsals are Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. at the Applegate Regional Theater, 87230 Central Rd., Eugene. Call Vicki Sourdry for more info: 541-935-3636.

Contact Pat through her website,



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