Sunday, August 19, 2007

To Sing or Not to Sing

When ChoirGuy came to direct our choir, a little over five years ago, he was like a breath of fresh air. He is a professor of music at a major university here in the South and he also conducts a fine acapella chorale (audition, of course). He became our part time minister of music when our "music man" retired after our church went through a major split. (Huge disaster of epic proportions, but not necessary for this now. It was serious drama, though, and would make for an interesting blog later.)

My personal group of friends had also gone through a hugely personal drama, too, as one of our dearest had killed himself. I truly believe that that episode, the church disaster and my mother's untimely death the next year really rocked my world in ways, that, to this day, I cannot fully comprehend or explain. I know that I am a different person because of all of these events. I know that, right after my mother died, I threw a lamp at LawyerBoy. Not something I would have necessarily done at an earlier point in my quiet life. It made an impact on LawyerBoy, however, and I think he looks at me in a different light and with a new kind of respect. To this day, he won't let me around the light fixtures in the house.

All this to say, that with ChoirGuy around, I had an emotional outlet for a lot of things. I have always sung. I was always in the choir, from early elementary school, all the way through college. With this new choir director, things got serious. He was about the musicality in addition to the worship. All the last guy wanted was for the music to be loud. ChoirGuy was a professional. Not afraid to try new stuff.

However, ChoirGuy was a prodigy of sorts. He has a beautiful baritone voice and has always sung. He plays the piano, the organ, and a variety of other instruments. He has a Ph.D. in something musical and has been around the world singing and teaching. Well, this comes with a price. He is a perfectionist. He forgot that we were a group of volunteers, raw and twangy.

My first clue should have been when he got angry during our first major rehearsal for a Christmas cantata. We couldn't get the rhythm right for something and it frustrated our prima donna to no end. Not pretty, but something we could handle.

Fast forward to last January. (I know, last January). We had just come back to rehearsal from a Christmas break. We were excited to see each other and there was a lot of chatter between songs. After a while, he lost his mind. He exploded. He slammed his music down on the piano. He shouted at us. He was so angry, I even think he spit.

I was so angry with him, I saw black. You know that raw anger where you actually see blackness? That was me. And then, others in the choir started. "Oh, ChoirGuy, you are so right. We are so bad. We are like little children. We are immature. We should hang on your every word. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah,blah, blah. Please, overlook our horrible behavior and forgive us."

I nearly came out of my seat right then. He slammed his music on the piano and shouted at us and then the mealy mouthed ones started falling at his feet? When I looked at the older ladies he had shouted at, when I realized the other pastor's wife he had made cry, I nearly threw my music at him.

So, I went home and I only told LawyerBoy what had happened. I didn't go to my mother-in-law (FlutePlayer in the orchestra) because I was afraid I would lose whatever religion I had left if I tried to tell her what had happened.

I sang that Sunday (my friends muzzled me) but I wouldn't go to rehearsal. My friends said he was repentant, but never apologized for his outburst.

My mother-in-law immediately heard what had happened. (Of course she did. She didn't need me; there are snitches all over the place. She did ask me if he had said that he could have had any church in the city: I love it when gossip gets going, but in his tirade, he never said that. )

I haven't been the same since. I haven't enjoyed the experience of rehearsal and singing in the choir. And I don't know what to do. Choir is a commitment. And if this is ruined, I don't know if I can even sit in the Sanctuary anymore.

So, how do I get past this? Will I ever? Every time I go to rehearsal, I just wonder when he's going to blow again. What's the next step?

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Blogger cupcake said...

So has everyone in the choir drunk this dude's Kool-Aid? Is no one else outraged? What a maniacal despot he is. Too bad you can't stage a peasant uprising and have the choir exit en masse during a rehearsal.

I'm sorry for your disappointment and really wih I had advice to give you. Oh, wait. Here's something: pray about it. God surely does not want someone like this leading His people in making a joyful noise.

8/19/2007 7:18 PM  
Blogger teachergirl said...

Cupcake, I wonder what his classes are like. Maybe I bitch too much. I just don't know. But there are a lot of followers in this choir and not a whole lot of backbones as far as I can see - a lot of KoolAid drinkers. I just know that right now, I am exhausted and tomorrow is another day. Maybe HSM2 is on again and I can watch it one more time.

8/19/2007 8:32 PM  
Blogger cupcake said...

If HSM2 doesn't do the trick, you know a nice 60 minutes spent with my best friend Oprah will.

I forgot to mention that I'm also sorry for your losses. No doubt you are a changed person because of them - you're probably less patient and tolerant of fools like ChoirGuy. I don't think you're bitching too much. I think you're one of the few people - if not the only one - in that choir to see this idiot for the wacko he is.

8/20/2007 7:25 AM  
Blogger Sally said... would be so nice if it wasn't for all the icky people!! There's always at least one and if it isn't one of the pastors then it's always the music guy (or gal)...So sorry...Praying for you...

8/21/2007 2:06 AM  
Blogger Joke said...

Perhaps it's my perverse way of looking at things but THIS struck me:

"I threw a lamp at LawyerBoy. [...] It made an impact on LawyerBoy, however, and I think he looks at me in a different light"


P.S. As re. the Choir issue, this seems like a pretty clear signal to pray over it. I think there's a message waiting for you.

8/21/2007 9:33 PM  
Blogger teachergirl said...

Joke - I am nothing, if not perverse.

8/22/2007 3:35 PM  

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