About age 10 at primary state school our teacher got each of us in turn to sing Do-Rae-Mi-Fa-So-La-Ti-Do. Yeronga was a very big school and she needed about 20 for the school choir so most of us failed and were told “you can’t sing – fall out and go back to class.”
I carried this chip on my shoulder (the chip became a caber over the next 70 years) until I was 80 years old, when a friend said “come to my choir, you don’t have to audition”.
I levelled with the choir director and said that I couldn’t sing but was told “just make a noise”. So I practised hard at home playing the bass parts on a keyboard purchased for the purpose. But she phoned me at work just prior to my first concert and suggested not to turn up for the final practice nor the concert since “some of us have symphony orchestra experience, don’t you know!”
Six months after being banished, I bumped into one of the other bases and he wanted to know why I had quit. I said it was the other way around – they quit me! But I heard they were about to do Handel’s Messiah which I had appreciated at Canterbury Cathedral at Christmas some fifty years earlier whilst in the Royal Navy, so I sang that and then announced my “ retirement”, having achieved a lifetime goal.
But the night I “retired” I realised that most of the choir were battlers and that none of the bases were much chop (the concerts were being carried by the soloists and the music). So I took singing lessons and persevered with that choir, started to enjoy singing (in tune on occasions) and joined The Heathens who were far more accepting.
Which prompts me to ask all other Heathens choristers:
LIKE ME, WERE YOU TOLD YOU COULDN’T SING? Do you have a story to share?
Contributed by: Harry