Dad sings in ward choir to be with daughters

By Bill Hill

For Mormon Times

Published: Sunday, May 29 2011 5:00 a.m. MDT

The ward choir is an adventure for me. For one thing, I can’t sing (I mainly joined the Madison High School's Bel Cantos for the girls) and I can’t musically count.

Our choir director is really into music, she is music. Too bad she has to deal with me and draw some sort of musical effort out of this culturally repressive sock.

I really became part of the ward choir to be with my daughters, who are both songbirds, and to spend this quality time with them on a Sunday afternoon. I was persuaded by the higher cause, so give me a break.

So I go over to the church, and wouldn’t you know it, they wanted me to actually sing.

No mumbly stuff either, and no hanging back and mouthing the words while Brother Rosen does all the work. Actually sing.

Here I am in a musically challenged body. I think down deep there is possibly a Barry Manilow or a David Lee Roth just wanting to burst forth and sing "Love At Home" in a singularly captured, noteworthy moment, but at the present my effort is largely a talent that is probably best buried deep in the granite vaults and never unearthed.

But what can a person do, with a gung-ho choir director who embodies music and has the gift of angels? You keep on going, belting out the selections in a goose honk belch of sound, I guess.

Only, there’s the counting thing as well. I know the quarter-note takes a one in the one-two-three-four, and the half-note gets a two, and a whole takes up all four (which a breath must be held), but what about all the speckled notes, the dotted ones?

Somehow, the creators of these beautiful hymns craved a positively painful way to inflict the non-musical in an assortment of uneven segments of confusing torture. So why does our sustained choir director have to further mix them all up like a good chicken noodle soup from the cannery? Hold on tight to sanity. They are telling me that I have to sing and count at the same time. Give me a break, I am a male and a one-tasker, which is one and the same.

There is a story, possibly in the "Mormon legend" category, that one poor unmusical soul had to sing with a choir that performed in front of the prophet. The same soul was probably male, with daughters in the choir, couldn’t count, and I don’t know but you get the picture. He was nervous to sing for the prophet because the director wouldn’t let him just mouth the words. Anyway, when the time came to sing, there were some extra angel or two singing along with the earthly strain and everything went A-OK. Have you heard the story? I have.

All I can say is this: I am going to need a substantial portion of heaven’s glory to get through "Love At Home" on Sunday. That, and a busy part of Einsteinian mathematics to get through all the counting disorder.

It’s a good thing the meeting begins and ends with a word of pray.

Bill Hill lives in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and is married with three daughters. He does rehabilitation work for children with behavioral disorders.

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