Last night, I drove with The Lady to the annual Pyramid Concert. This is the moment where the High Schoolers try to convince the Junior High kids, who in turn convince the elementary school feeder schools, to join choir. In my estimation, since the thing was 45 minutes long (for we parents who had to sit in the bleachers), the whole thing was an overwhelming success.
So, Grumpy Cat spent the greater part of the day recruiting little kids to the choir. His old junior high school has a new choir director, and the hundreds of kids were very well behaved.
The whole thing got me thinking back to my choir days. Yes, I was a Choir Nerd.
My senior year of high school, I spent 5th, 6th and 7th periods in the choir rehearsal room, once for Swing Choir, once for Concert Chorale, and once for (believe it or not) Girl’s Choir, where I played bass.
Mister Fleshman was out choir instructor. A good guy who, from seventh grade until my senior year in high school, taught the whole mess of us kids proper breathing, choral technique, and other useful stuff. We sang standards (“The Nightingale Sang in Barkley Square”), barber shop tunes (“Bill Grogan’s Goat”), doo-wop music (“Boy From New York City”), country music (“All the Gold in California”), 70s AM pop (“The Night Chicago Died”) and even contemporary pop hits (“Africa,” by Toto, and Wham’s “Wake Me Up before You Go Go”). We never really sang classical literature; we were a Swing Choir.
I think this is explains why I enjoyed the first season of Glee so much. We, too, had the high school quarterback in choir, and a select group of misfits, and a few divas (you know who you are, Darin Hirte 😉 ). It felt very, very comfortable. Every day, we did a few warm-ups and learned our parts by rote. Darlene Kuykendall would accompany us on the piano every day (an hour break from her office duties) while her son Darren would play the drums for us.
For me, choir was as close as I came to having a high school clique; a place where I felt comfortable exiting my shell. I sang an extended scat solo to “Lullaby of Birdland” (which, looking back, was embarrassingly bad singing. I just never listened to scat greats like Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, or maybe Louis Prima, so I just made up whatever syllable felt comfortable–it was almost like speaking in tongues!
In 1984, we took home an “Outstanding” rating during our choir trip to San Francisco and San Jose. In 1985, we rode the train from Portland to Denver–an unforgettable and amazing experience. I ice skated, we learned to line dance (yuck.) and took home an “Excellent” rating. We were furious. I cried for an hour that night, I was so upset. Choir made us feel, somehow, like the gods we believed we someday were destined to become. We took a cruise liner to Ensenada, Mexico. We were even the entertainment a couple of nights.
It made me decide to study music in college. I wanted to be a choir director, which never happened. I graduated with a 4-year degree in Music Education, though, which I’ve never regretted, except in passing moments where I wish I’d chosen a degree slightly more lucrative.
In the years, I’ve lost touch with many of my choir friends, although a dozen or so are buddies on Facebook. I’d love to see a reunion before Mister Fleshman is gone, but I doubt that will ever happen.
So that, I guess, is the legacy I passed on to Grumpy Cat. I hope he doesn’t regret his choice to be wearing the same shoes as is dear ol’ dad. It’s funny how sitting in those bleachers on the wrong side of the choral director brought back all those memories. So, I went hunting for old photos.
Some are extremely grainy–all of them were taken between 1984-1985, back when life was good.
I suppose this is as good a place as any to dump them. Enjoy how scrawny I look 🙂 I’ll never again be that thin!