November 2, 2008

“I Could Hear You Over Everybody Else!”

Posted in Days of my life, Mormon life, Something exciting! tagged , , , , , , , at 1:53 PM by Robin

Last night I had the awesome and amazing experience of singing in the Salt Lake Tabernacle.  For those of you visitors who might not be familiar with this building, it is not only one of the most historic and sacred non-temple buildings to our LDS faith, but also an incredible feat of acoustic engineering.  The high domed ceiling and oval shape of the hall make every sound from the front resonate beautifully throughout the entire room, which can seat up to 2500 people.  Used for many years as the location of the LDS General Conference and other meetings, I believe its main use today is more of a concert hall than anything else.  Many musicians hope for a chance to play or sing in the Tabernacle, and lucky me, I was able to enjoy that opportunity as part of “We Also Sing.”

The ironic part of this is that my debut in the Tabernacle was in a women’s chorus, because you know what?  I’m not really much of a singer.  I played piano and violin for many years, and most of my performance oppurtunities earlier in my life were as part of an orchestra.  So, although I have plenty of music training, I have absolutely no actual vocal training.  I have no problem reading the music, and can carry a tune and hit the right pitch more often than not, but when it comes to all the various nuances that combine to make a truly beautiful singing voice–vibrato, breath control, vowel shaping, etc–I am really at a complete loss.  Fortunately, you don’t have to audition for this choir, so even the unexperienced like me can participate. That doesn’t mean that the music was easy.  On the contrary, some of it was very difficult.  But that’s what made it so fun, to me.  I need things to make me stretch and try harder and learn new things.  I really thrive on that.

By the way, two big differences between an orchestra concert and a vocal concert: in orchestra, we got to sit down the whole time!  After a two hour rehearsal and two performances, standing almost the whole time, my feet were quite sore.  Second, nobody really cares what your face looks like when you’re playing the violin.  Nobody cares if you’re looking down at your music the whole time (you develop your peripheral vision pretty well in order to read your music and keep an eye on the conductor at the same time).  Our choir director, Merilee Webb, would often emphasize to us in rehearsal to “share the love” and spirit of the music we were singing through our eyes and facial expressions.  So, I really made a valiant effort to summon forth my emotive acting skills and tried to look like the singers you see on taped BYU concerts (the ones that the camera always comes back to, because they have their eyebrows up the highest, or a touching tear trickling down their cheek).  By the second concert, I was really into it, too.  But afterward, my mother-in-law mentioned how cute I was up there and that she had been watching me, and as I often do, I started fretting about it more than if she hadn’t said anything at all, wondering if I had been overdoing it and making an idiot of myself.  The last thing I actually wanted to do was stand out from the other 360 some-odd women up there!  Fortunately, it wasn’t taped or anything, so I’ll never really know if I looked absolutely ridiculous or not.

Speaking of standing out, there is a long-standing joke in Andrew’s family, who have all participated in many different choirs:  “You were great!” they like to say to you after a performance, “I could hear you over everybody else!”  It might sound like a compliment, unless you are a choir person, and you know that the ideal as a choir is to blend together with all the other singers, so that you all sound like one voice.  I’m sure this inside joke originated with Andrew’s dad, Kent, commenting on one of Andrew’s early performances, since he has never been shy about singing out, as anyone knows who has ever sat next to him in sacrament meeting.  (Parley follows pretty closely in his footsteps, as anyone knows who has ever sat through a primary program in our ward.)  So, the funny thing was, as I went up to greet my family after the concert, my beaming mother (who has sat through more band and orchestra concerts of varying levels of musicality than I can possibly count, but who has not seen any of her children perform in an actual choir up until last night) came up to me and hugged me, and said, in full sincerity, “Oh, I was so proud of you.  And maybe it was my imagination, but I was sure that there were times when I could hear you over everybody else!”  Andrew’s family members were standing right there, and of course, they got a real big kick out of it. 

Anyway, it was a wonderful experience, and both performances went really well, and I had a great time.  I don’t know what excuse I’m going to be able to find to get out of the house and away from my family once a week from now on.  Suggestions, anyone?



  1. Shannon said,

    Chris was really impressed. I wish I could have been there, but unfortunately we’re not financially secure enough to turn down business from my stripper baby. If they do this next year, let me know. I’d love to participate, and it would be fun to go to the rehearsals with you.

  2. mormonsoprano said,

    Loved the post. Good for you!
    Isn’t making music the most awesome thing in the world? Keep raising a “joyful noise”! 🙂

  3. Robin K. said,

    No, you didn’t look ridiculous. Your facial expressions were perfect. Yes, you must find an excuse to get out of the house once a week. (I have no clue on ideas……I’m never out myself!) I LOVE the story about hearing you over everyone else (which for the record, I did not). 🙂 Thanks for the smiles tonight and for a wonderful concert last night! My whole family really enjoyed it!

  4. Rachael said,

    I was just wondering how this choir was formed and if it is accepting any new members. i just happened to see the performance listed on the web site and reconized Merrilee Webb’s name as my Madrigal teacher in High School. I would LOVE to get involved in a choir again, but had no clue how to. If you could send me any information about the choir, I would really appreciate it! my email is

  5. kira said,

    That is great. How fun to sing in the tabernacle! I love that building!

  6. Vicki said,

    Your performance with the choir was just perfect! I loved every minute of the concert.

  7. cellista said,

    My aunt sang in that choir too! I’m like you, I play the cello and can handle just about any piece of music, but have never had vocal training outside high school choir (taught by my dad.)

    As for leaving the house–I treasure my Tuesday nights at orchestra. On those rare weeks we don’t have rehearsal, I’m always tempted to leave anyway and go hang out at Barnes and Noble and read or something, but I figure my husband would notice me leaving my cello at home and I sure wouldn’t want to lug it with me.

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