One part bass, one part soprano as voice changed

On Monday night, I had the pleasure of hearing the Canto Choir present their Christmas concert. I love having the harmonies of a good choir wash over me as I sit back, close my eyes and just listen. I know I was not alone in that acoustical experience in the church sanctuary, and these familiar holiday tunes brought a lot of cheer to my soul.

When I left the concert, I chuckled as I was reminded of my own brush with choir and my classical music experiences. Growing up in Rockdale, classical music was considered Ernest Tubb. My parents were more musically open-minded than your average resident, with Dad introducing us to Dixieland and big band, and Mom occasionally playing classical and singing in the church choir at St. John’s United Methodist Church.

I began piano lessons in the fourth grade, but was more interested in figuring out how to make “Lightly Row” swing rather than learn beginning Mozart.

By seventh grade, I was a below-average pianist, but I met a kid who influenced me and taught me that, even though we were from Texas, it was okay to enjoy classical music. Mike was from “the big town” of Corsicana and he was two years older than me. We were at Texas A&M tennis camp and I walked in on him while he was washing a load of sweaty tennis clothes. He had a portable radio tuned to a classical station, for which his roommate teased him relentlessly.

Yet he was confident enough in himself to look past the ribbing, and I thought that was a cool way to be. I liked classical music myself, along with a musical smorgasbord of about everything else, so to find a “cool guy” who liked it was liberating. It was one thing for Mom to tell me it was ok to enjoy classical music, but another for a peer to do so.

So, I began listening to Beethoven, Chopin, Handel and Tchaikovsky, along with the radio tunes of the day that included Van Halen, Hendrix and Willie.

Two years later, I agreed to join the church choir and explore this art form. (Or maybe I was dragged into it after someone died — I can’t remember.) What was not well thought out on my part, however, was that this is when my voice was changing.

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