There are a lot of things that seem to “plateau”. Progress seems to stop and then there are these little leaps of success. It’s weird. Any experienced golfer will tell you that breaking 100 the first time seems IMPOSSIBLE…right up until you do it the first time (Shoreline Golf Links, Mountain View, CA; thanks for asking). After that you’re down in the 90’s nearly every time. Losing weight seems to go the same way: diet, exercise, diet, exercise, what-the-hell-my-weight-is-the-same, diet, exercise…boom. Five pounds magically gone. No, it makes no sense and yes, it really happens that way (putting weight on, however, is a different story; have a donut -> gain a pound before you’re done chewing).
The choral rehearsal season is exactly the same way and, now that we’re nearing the end, take a look back at how you (and we) have progressed. Think of “O Nata Lux” and how hard it was to get the notes and sing in Latin and watch Susie because she was STOPPING BETWEEN PHRASES and how it was scary and really kinda sucked. Right up until it didn’t and we started getting it one night. I remember it being a huge leap all at once, not to perfection but to the plateau of “we got this”. Music being made.
Think of all the page turns in “Sleigh Ride” (oh, how I loathe that piece…I know the audience will love it but yuck). We boogered it over and over again and it was frustrating and it always seemed like it was totally brand new to us every time we opened it up and we felt stupid and it was pretty awful. Right up until it wasn’t and we blew right on through it like we’d known it all along. They’ll never know that it repeats across almost every page and then goes from page 10 to page 4-5-6 to page 11. Nothin’ to it, we got this.
Think of the bizarre struggles that the basses had with the timing of “UNA!!”. Right up until they got it. Easy peasy, we got this.
Think of “O Sifuni Mungu”. Yeah, that one. Yikes. Weird words, weirder rhythyms, voice parts crossing over themselves, inadvertent solo moments as we all managed to sing SOMETHING wrong. Until we didn’t. And it was awesome. Not perfection but yet again to that plateau. Actually, a little higher one than we thought we were sitting…remember when Susie made us do it from memory the first time? And we did? And it worked? Scared the pants off us at the time but we knew we’d climbed to another level of “we got this” in that piece.
That was sweet victory.
Put ’em all together and a concert is born. Not all at once but one step up the mountain at a time. And that’s part of why we do this at all. Think about it, if we could just sight-read stuff and be perfect and then have a concert…where would the fun be? Where would the reward for all the work be? Where would the relationships that we’ve created as we succeed together be? Our audience isn’t there to listen to a CD player, they want to hear the culmination of all the plateaus and victories and our joy in them.
Yup, we got this.