“Do they know you sing down there in New Orleans?” was asked many times as I prepared for my YAV year here in New Orleans. My answer was always “No and I don’t plan to tell them” to which I would get a strange stare and a knowing “it won’t take long before they know.” I have been in a choir (church or concert) since I was 5. I’m 23. And I’ve been in some sort of praise team since tenth grade pretty consistently. Those who know me know that music is part of who I am. If there wasn’t flesh covering my bones you could hear them singing. Well, maybe not that extreme. But it’s something like that.
In May 2012 I started filling in as a sub for the praise team at my home church. It was supposed to be for the summer since funny thing, people tend to take vacations during the summer, but it continued right up until I left for New Orleans. The three Sundays I had off from May 2012-August 2013 were the three Sundays the praise team had off. And I got really tired of being in front each Sunday. Between rehearsing with the praise team then co-teaching senior high Sunday school, then running to the last few minutes of chancel choir rehearsal then running upstairs to sing with the praise team only to run outside around to the other door to get to the other side of the sanctuary to sing the anthem with the choir and then sometimes running back to the other side to sing again with the praise team, worshiping during worship was very hard.
Talk about being burnt out. I decided two things: 1) that I really need to learn how to say NO and that 2) as much as I love being part of a praise team and choir that I wasn’t going to tell people about my musical abilities—my roommates and Layne would be the select eight aware of my guitar and voice. And then at orientation in August my room connected to the room of a YAV who is now serving in Tucson. One evening I could hear two guitars and singing coming from the other side. Ever the curious musician, I investigated and ended up singing with them in the talent show that week.
In those moments sitting on Kathryn’s bed coming up with different harmonies I realized that I can’t remove music from my life. I’ve also realized how much I miss singing in a group. I crave that inexplicable feeling I get when I’m reading a part or making up harmonies and blending with others in a beautiful, enthralling moment. I’ve also realized that for me, that is a part of worship. I’ve also noticed that I really like listening to others worship too. There is a church that I’ve found with an absolutely magnificent choir and I sit with my eyes closed, listening to the beautiful harmonies and the occasional tenor that forgets to blend with his neighbor. College often comes up in conversation and I have started telling people that I did in fact start as a Music Education major in college and that my concentration was voice. So people are finding out that I sing and that I do know my way around music. And I’m okay with people knowing that I sing. And I’m okay with an occasional opportunity to sing like the Sunday we walked into First Presbyterian and were handed music and sang in the choir. I’m also okay with sitting in the congregation.
Next stop: learning to say no to keep from burning out… Or something like that.