Singing a new tune

Ever do something as a hobby, then try to take it to the next level and feel like you're a little out of your depth?

That was me last night: Jumping into a full-blown a capella female chorus, and doing my best to tread water. I've been dabbling in choruses for a couple of years now (having been in honors chorus in middle school), mainly the kind that meet for a bunch of weeks then perform once and go away and don't require auditions. It's helped with confidence and just getting a sense of how these things work, but the first one does all holiday-related music (not carols, but still) and the other had a group dynamic that was not always pleasant — though I did enjoy my time there and if this doesn't pan out, I'll go back for the new session.

But this troupe actually competes. That means that although it's not necessarily for pros, there is an audition (I have a song I have to sing along with the rest of a quartet, while hitting the right notes and getting the right phrasing, within four weeks), the rehearsals have warm-up exercises not just for the throat but for the body, there are risers we stand on … and we're standing for about three hours straight, which proved to be a bit straining for me at least.

It was exciting, though: We rolled through a Broadway tune and I picked up much of what I had to do before the end of the night; we hit another classic or two that I was unfamiliar with but there's enough immediate repetition and a total lack of dithering that let me lock into them at least in parts. And I discovered that in this particular setup, a female group, being a "tenor" is not what it means in other choruses. Here, I'm a bass!

And overall, it was thrilling to dive into the deep end like that, a lesson everyone should bear in mind. When they say always keep challenging yourself, I think that's what they mean — not necessarily sign up for quantum physics if you don't know science, but try and take whatever you are passionate about to the next level.

I can't say if I'm ready to stick with it: The rehearsals run late and I have to get up early, so I'm a bit craggy this morning, and this does require learning some more wonky terminology (I know in theory what "going up a fifth" means, but it's stuff like that). And who knows, I may not even pass the audition. But it's something to work toward, and that's what I'm keeping in mind. I'll stick for now, and make a decision if I pass — and if not, is not. It's the experience that makes the thing worth doing, right?