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I’ve sung in choirs since 6th grade when it was first offered in my school system, and over these 20+ years, I’ve definitely experienced first-hand the many benefits of being a part of a chorus.
At a church meeting* last night, we were talking about creativity and co-creation, and one of the women attending, Jessica, is a college music professor. She shared with us, “One day I came into class, held up a score, and declared to them, ‘This is not music. This is time signatures, bars, and tempo marks. It’s just the instructions. Music is what happens when we bring the instructions to life.”
My committee co-chair Elaine— a multi-talented musician and now-retired children’s music teacher— chimed in next: “A choir director never conducts the same choir twice.” Even if it’s the same group of people, they’ve had different experiences on Wednesday night than they’ve had by the time Sunday morning rolls around. So, even a group that’s generally pretty good at following the written and directed “instructions” will never create the exact same results twice.
Performing is Sometimes Just for You
Fast-forward to the yoga class I took just earlier this afternoon with my friendtor Emmy, the co-owner of Inner Light Yoga where I have the joy of teaching. If you’ve followed me for long, you know I’m a total #fangirl of our vibe that is highly invitational rather than directive— fancy words for “you do you, boo.”
Practicing at ILY always feels good, but as with anything, sometimes things just perfectly align and “good” becomes “hot damn, I think I just had a spiritual experience.” Today was one of those days— as I was free-flowing, it really felt like a fully embodied dance… almost a performance, but most importantly, a performance for no one but myself.
It reminded me of what my former choir director used to say sometimes, “Alright, sopranos, just sing this part all out like you’re all doing a solo.” I always got a kick out of that, because typically the goal in a chorus is for everyone in the section to be more or less cohesive and create a sound that blends well, and for individual singers in a section not to stand out.
I’ve sang plenty of actual solos in my time (especially recently as the front woman for Conventional Wisdom 🤘🖤), so it’s not that I’m always itching for the solo. But it is a pretty cool experience to interweave that blended, co-creation with shining your badass light and sharing your own special sauce.
Being Fully Alive = Separate AND together
We live in a culture that tends to value the soloist— the celebrity, the star, the weirdly prodigious talent— much more than it values the chorus. But I believe that experiencing the full beauty and breadth of the human experience requires us to be willing to step into both roles:
- a part of the cohesive, blended chorus (the collective, the society that holds each other accountable and holds each other up); and,
- our own singular bold voice, idea, vision.
No one else on this planet has your exact life experiences, opinions, skills, interests, or flair. Your human thumbprint simultaneously makes you incredibly unique, and (here comes one of those paradoxes I love) incredibly universal.
Your story is my story. And… your story is also your OWN. Will you share it with us?
Take Some F-ing Action:
(This is the section I’m going to start including in writings where you take whatever concepts you’ve read about and actually DO something with them so they don’t just collect cobwebs in your mind. Yay application/action!)
Tell me… whether you sing or not, how do you see yourself as part of the “chorus” of life?
What does it look/feel like for you to step into your solo moments?
Are there any intentions you’d like to set around these ideas?
Share in the comments, email me, write an Instagram post + tag me in it, DM, whatever makes the most sense for YOU!
*This is where I always want say: “I don’t go to regular church, I go to cool church, Unitarian Universalism— where atheists, pagans, Christians, etc. all play in the sandbox together and each person is responsible for their own individual search for truth in meaning.
Be the Choir (and the Soloist)
October 2, 2019