I have been a singer since I can remember. I have a tape recording that my brother did of me when I was around 4 yelling at me to stop singing because I was being annoying (“she sings for like, 27 hours a day and always forgets 79% of the words,” - my best friend can quote his exact words- it is pretty funny). I was obsessed with anything related to Disney musicals (particularly The Little Mermaid) and wandered around singing something most of the time. My parents’ influences did not stop this either- my dad was always playing music (mainly classic 1960’s rock) and my mom was a singer herself. Music was a big part of my household, so it only seemed natural that I would develop a knack for it.
School was my musical outlet sanctuary so as not to only be singing at home, which was slowly causing my brothers to want to smother me in my sleep. I was in chorus in my elementary school, but it was mainly a 5th grade chorus. But I also sang in chorus class and would always be in the chorus for our annual Christmas plays (I am still mad I got the flu for my 5th grade play because I had a speaking part). In middle school I also elected to take chorus and was chosen to be in advanced chorus my 7th grade year and the next year, Reflections, the 8th grade select group you had to audition for. And in middle school these groups were a big deal. Ask anyone. Seriously. I have hours of purchased Design Recording VHS’s showcasing our talents. Come over and we can watch it together. Pretty amazing stuff. I even had a solo to “Arabian Nights” from Aladdin. (Oh, I come from a land from a faraway place…). I also did the plays, Annie and Guys and Dolls, with chorus roles.
High school was when things really took off. Those who aren’t from Central Virginia probably do not understand Show Choir. Think of Glee but with bigger groups (like Vocal Adrenaline), not singing in the halls and not being hated or made fun of with slushies thrown in the face. I grew up seeing the groups and knew from a young age I wanted to be in them one day (so did many of my peers). We were pretty good. I started in the 9th grade chorus and then made Steppin’ Out, the all-girls select show choir my 10th grade year, and Center Stage, the mixed select group my 11th and 12th grade year. We went to competitions, had sets, costume changes and sang awesome shows. We weren’t the best school in the county, but I always thought we had great vocal quality (other groups had more money so their sets were cooler). In Center Stage both years we got Superior ratings at all competitions and one time even best vocals (the most coveted award), and a few 2nd and 1st place trophies. It was a big part of my high school life. After school practices, weekend competitions, traveling, concerts…it was a dedication. And though at times it got annoying and frustrating, I loved it. I loved being on stage.
In college I still wanted to sing, but I didn’t want to do it as intensely. Therefore, with much coaxing from my 2nd year roommate, I tried out for the all women ensemble Virginia Women’s Chorus (link here: http://www.student.virginia.edu/~vawomen/). This group only practiced two nights a week and performed every other month or so. I did it my 2nd and 3rd years and stopped for my last year so I could focus more on working at my sweet job. I never fully immersed myself in the group because I was in a sorority and that was my main focus. But the group, in addition to singing, was a social group as well with parties, fundraisers and events. I think if I was more passionate about it I might have done more of those things, but at the time my social calendar was full.
So why am I talking about all this now? Well, it’s been 3 years since I have sung routinely (my singing alone in the shower or in my car doesn’t count), and I’ve recently joined an acapella group. This is a self-formed group of about 10 women in our mid 20’s that just like singing and want to do it more. We only meet twice a month but are able to learn pieces very quickly and perform around the area. Just last night we sang the national anthem at a high school basketball game (and we had only learned the song less than a week before). It was so nice to perform again- I always forget how much I miss it. I still carry a lot of my performance skills into working with high schoolers and speaking in classrooms or at school events (and my loudness). It does not faze me, and I thank my years of chorus for that. Talking in front of a group is not scary- singing, on the other hand, is!