I’m a second soprano. I sing in an all women performance choir and I love it. I love expressing myself with my voice and music is the vehicle that allows me to do it in person. But sometimes I struggle. On the more complex or wordy songs I find myself stuck in the middle between the top and the bottom and I don’t know what I’m supposed to be singing. Sometimes I gravitate toward the melody, but sometimes I settle in among the lower alto notes, and there are times that I just can’t seem to reconcile myself to the part that suits my range.
But I have come to love singing harmony. I love when the part that is mine moves and pulls against the melody. I love the resolution of a dissonant chord and knowing that my contribution enriches the whole of the piece. That without my part, the melody would be flat and lifeless. Even with the alto line, there are songs that need more. Songs that have stories to tell with complexity and subtlety, that need a second soprano line to give them depth and beauty. I love filling up that space. There was a time that I only sang high soprano. A time that I couldn’t bear to move away from the melodic surface of a song, but I have learned to appreciate that not everyone can or should sing just the melody.
In my life I am similarly struggling to find my line in the music. In a chorus of conflicting chords I am searching out my part. Most days I think I have it. I feel in tune and I like the way I sound in relation to the parts on either side of me. But then I lose confidence and I fall apart. It’s hard to find a part in the middle once it’s lost, especially if some of the songs I’m singing don’t have sheet music or someone has changed some of the notes to suit themselves. But then, if I listen to the accompaniment underneath it all, I can very often find my place again. Sometimes I have to wait for a new section to start – perhaps a place I am more familiar with – but I almost always find the notes that are mine.
The key, I am learning, is to know my part well on its own. To have confidence in the notes I am given to sing, without worrying about what others are vocalizing around me. It’s a challenge when the director of this choir called life isn’t visible to us and isn’t always giving us the direction we think we need. But even in the uncertainty of an accidental, or when I can’t always hear if I’m blending well, I know that if my part is strong, it will strengthen the whole.
And that’s something to sing about.