Alright, obviously this post is long overdue. I meant to write it before Christmas and just never got around to it. But I think it's a good story and still worth sharing. I think my new motto for the year is going to be "Better Late than Never."
Now on to my miracle, for I firmly believe that that's what it was. My church choir continues to be a bit of a struggle for me. I have mentioned before that I'm lucky that I have people who come. I have great support, although even that is waning now that we have church at nine, and I'm holding Sunday rehearsals at 8 a.m., rather than noon. I don't blame people. Who really wants to get up and sing at eight in the morning?!
My biggest problem recently has been with my accompanists. I have two people called to share the choir accompanist job. One is a young mom, a wife of an anesthesia fellow. She is very capable, but she just hasn't been around. They have been traveling, she had has surgery, and many other things to get in the way of her helping out with the choir. She was out of town during our Christmas performance.
The other girl is a high school senior. She is very nice, but the kind of teenager I don't know how to relate to. She's very quiet, and I think easily offended. I think I hurt her feelings at the get-go when I had a co-accompanist called to help her out. I always feel like I need to walk on eggshells when I'm talking to her, and I just can't seem to get over being uncomfortable around her. But she's nice, and when she knows the music, she does a decent job accompanying. She and her mom have even expressed gratitude for the opportunity to learn more about accompanying.
The problem is that she is a high school senior, and an incredibly busy one. During the month of December, she was so busy that she didn't have time to learn the music to accompany the choir. But she didn't tell me that she was too busy to practice, so I didn't know that I needed to find someone else to play. I just continued to run rehearsals from the piano (like normal) and hoped that she would catch up one day.
It all kind of came to a head about two weeks before our performance Sunday. I had a song that involved another teenage violinist playing along with the choir. The violinist had been working hard to learn her part, the choir knew their parts pretty well, and we were ready to put it all together for the first time. My teenage pianist said that she was ready to play, and I hopped up in front of the choir to lead.
It completely train-wrecked!
The pianist didn't know her part, and it derailed everyone else. The choir and violinist went from being able to sing the song decently to panicking.
After the rehearsal ended, I asked the violinist if she would be willing to come over to my house during the week to rehearse the song with me. She jumped on board, seemingly grateful for an opportunity to rehearse.
I asked the accompanist if she could join us. She flat out said, "No. I don't have time this week." She went on to say that she would be ready to play it the next week. I was disappointed, but gave her the benefit of the doubt that she would learn the song.
The next week came, and it turned out that she had been sick all week and couldn't practice, but she promised to know it by the next week (which was performance day). I pinch-hit during the rehearsal and found someone to sight-read the song. After the rehearsal that day, I met with my last-minute accompanist friend, and suggested a few changes to help out the choir, including adding bells and the organ to the accompaniment. They were great suggestions, but it just wouldn't be a possibility for this teenage accompanist to show up at the last minute and have her rehearse with all of that (choir, violin, organ, bells). So, I had to make an awkward phone call and tell her that she didn't need to worry about practicing the song.
But in the end, the miracle happened. The choir numbers came together. People stepped up and sang. I think I had over 30 singers that day. I had someone to help me accompany, or lead the choir so that I could accompany. And the choir sounded good! It really did. I was so grateful for a Christmas miracle that brought the Spirit into our Christmas meeting through good music.
The whole experience was a lesson to me in problem solving, being flexible, communication, and mostly of being faithful. I prayed for help, and the Lord helped, not only me to feel good about it, but the choir members to feel that they had accomplished something great.
And also, I have to mention that through all of this, Gunner was paying attention. He sat through some of our rehearsals. He knows what we struggle with, albeit peripherally. We were driving around town one day during December listening to an old family favorite Christmas album. An energetic choir number came on, and we had this little conversation:
Gunner: Mom, is this a choir singing?
Me: Yes, it is.
Gunner: Whoa. They are WAY better than your choir, Mom.
I think I busted a gut laughing.