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Dear Choir Director; a funny poem about how my wonderful conductor erroneously selected me

Updated on May 17, 2013

Dear Choir Director

When you asked me to sing in front of
the entire Select choir of college peers
I shut down.
I couldn't find the note.

You looked at me with revulsion in your eyes like
who the hell are you and what are you doing in my choir?

No one standing beside me gave a hug or nod.
They inched away
I was some contagion polluting
their sacred space.

My roommate averted her eyes.

Exposed like a cadaver
in that huge auditorium of a rehearsal room
I waited for the faded yellow tiles to suck me under.

Choir was my safe place.
My refuge from peer scrutiny.

In this echo chamber, I sang my part.
I blended and flowed without
anomole: part of a whole.

Shaping notes let go my need to
analyze, compartmentalize, trivialize.

Focused on breathing
I was Present

Until this moment.

A first alto accomplished
what I could not and
I walked alone from the room.

No one spoke of this
though we choired together
for three more years.

The memory lactated
in my unconscious
until I dislodged the heart
of my pain

uniting confidence
with self.

© 2010 Barbara


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    • Storytellersrus profile image

      Barbara 7 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      hahahaha, Nellieanna, the vision of your cat is precious! Have you written up this story or written it into one of your profound poems? I wonder what wisdom you would focus on, if you haven't. Your work goes for the jugular in a very genteel way. Let me know if you ever do write it up, as I would love to read it. Thanks for sharing a cup of coffee with me!

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 7 years ago from TEXAS

      Such a first-hand and fully-felt poem-account of the situation. I could just feel your sense of humiliation or embarrassment. I was chosen to sing in the Junior High "Melodeers" - chosen from out of the Glee Club. I wasn't a great singer, one of my sorrows of a lifetime, but I was OK. Then suddenly my high soprano voice lowered, for some reason. Maybe it was emotional, about the time our house burned. Anyway I was not good enough as an alto, so I lost my membership. I was so embarrassed. I continue to sing my little heart out - in private, mostly - but on road trips when George & I would have song-contests to see who could sing one the other didn't know, our cat Toulouse would howl whenever I piped up. So - that says a lot. . . . :) Still I've continued. . . .

    • Storytellersrus profile image

      Barbara 7 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      immartin, we are harsh on ourselves but others feed the shame, don't they? I must say that after sympathizing greatly with your very visual imagery (I played viola), I heard the sour note and BURST out laughing! Not to diminish your experience at all. If you separate yourself from the personal pain of it, it really is a funny moment... sort of slap stick? Can you take yourself out of it and see what I mean?

      In fact, it was wonderful to hear your story and all the stories that others presented thus far. I feel like we have a focus group going, lol.

      bayoulady, I appreciate so much the telling of this humiliating moment in your life. What courage, to have pursued voice anyway. This says so much about you! I honor you.

      alekhouse, I cannot imagine having to perform while feeling such uncertainty. My mind boggles at the concept. How did you get through it? I cannot imagine. Hugs!

      Jaspal, How were you selected from such a large number of candidates? You, too, must have demonstrated talent in this area. Did you ever speak again with more confidence? Was it the lack of preparation that created your fear? Or was speaking always a challenge? I can imagine the scene and wonder if perhaps you did better than you think. Of course, it doesn't really matter what others thought if you considered it a disgrace. Oh dear! Big hug.

      Thanks again all of you for sharing your stories. I don't feel so alone in my humiliation now!!!

    • Jaspal profile image

      Jaspal 7 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Such a nicely penned and touching poetry. Am reminded of an incident. As a young 2nd Lt, with no preparation at all, I was suddenly picked to take the place of the MC (Master of Ceremonies) who had fallen sick just before an elaborate entertainment program at an Army base. There was some rather senior brass present, and I didn't know where to hide my face during the drinks and dinner thereafter.

      MartieCoetser has beaten me to it and already said it so well ... that director had seen in you what you had not yet realized you possessed. And I thoroughly enjoy your writing too. :)

    • alekhouse profile image

      Nancy Hinchliff 7 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Great line: "I waited for the faded yellow tiles to suck me under"

      Well, wonder of all wonders, I had almost the exact same experience...only I ended up doing the singing, totally embarrassed by the fact that my convulsing body (shaking from fright) was pressed against the four other choir members squished in around me on that crowded auditorium stage. It happened more than 40 years ago and I remember it like it was yesterday.

    • bayoulady profile image

      bayoulady 7 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA

      An eloquently sad poem. It speaks volumes.I can relate to this,too. Had a sad incident in the fifth grade. She told me to just lip sync, because I was off key. It wasn't me, it was Melba beside me.that was off key. I was so hurt and embarrassed, and the other students snickered and pointed at me. Even after I was grown, and well known in community as a gospel singer, I was not always confident. I could hear it all over again.Strange after all these years how it still echoes......

      Our words have such power to heal or hurt, especially to the young.

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 7 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      I once played a solo in our high school band -- string bass, me. The big night I pulled back my bow and sounded the most sour note you've ever heard. Everyone's parents were present, and the whole school. I thought my face was about to burst into flame. Yeah -- you could say I relate to this story. Oh yeah.

    • Storytellersrus profile image

      Barbara 7 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      haha, MartieC, I guess that is it! The inner potential yet to express itself externally, lol. You've coined it! I feel like we have shared many experiences. Thanks for continuing to read my work.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 7 years ago from South Africa

      I love this one, Storytellersrus! Been there, done that, happened to me. The director saw in you what you have not yet realised you’ve got. Most directors of choirs and conductors of orchestras can see this in (poor) youngsters..... :-) ..... I truly enjoy your writings!

    • Storytellersrus profile image

      Barbara 7 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      tonymac, I loved this choir director as well as all those I had the priviledge of singing under. This was one of those moments I am certain he was simply trying to get a job done and thought I could help. I think choir directors are the best of the best and it doesn't surprise me a bit to learn that you were one of these humble fellows.

      I am writing Artist's Way morning pages and the free writes that are coming out this week focus on healing and looking at our Monster Wall of Shame. Well, I haven't actually put this Director on that wall. I truly love him way too much- he came through for me during numerous occasions and I kept in touch with him until he passed away.

      But this moment was a soul loss for me and I thought it interesting enough to share.

      Thanks for your support as always. You are truly a gem of a man.

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 7 years ago from South Africa

      Wow, Story! As a former choir director myself I hope I didn't ever do that to anyone. It must have been a really awful experience.

      Your year of grace is helping you come to terms with some issues, I think, yes?

      You are indeed "uniting confidence with self." A lovely turn of phrase that.

      Thanks for sharing

      Love and peace