I’ve been invited to sing in a choir. And this just doesn’t happen to me. Granted, it’s a family choir, and there’s only one necessary qualification—to be part of the family. But still! When you consider that I’m the least musical person in the family, that people in my family give recitals and take music lessons and hold graduate degrees in music and critique music with words I don’t understand—when you take all this into account, you can see why singing in this choir is a bit breathtaking for me.
This choir came about because of the pandemic. Our family isn’t gathering for Christmas this year, not in person. Instead, we’ll meet virtually—four generations of us. But Zoom’s no way to sing together. With audio lags and glitches and garbled tones, everyone else’s voices would sound as unmusical as mine usually does.
So since we can’t fathom meeting without music, my brother offered to put us together into a sixty-eight-member virtual choir, the kind you can see on Facebook, with people singing from boxes in a grid.
“I’ll make sure you don’t sound bad,” my brother assured me. “We want one hundred percent participation, and I’ve got the technology to blend your voice in with the group.”
He might have meant the mute button. I’m not sure.
Regardless, I’m glad to be included. My brother sent me something called a scratch track so I could practice. With it, I can hear in my ear the notes that should come from my mouth. And as I sing along, I’ve been feeling like a good singer for the first time ever.
I’m now a fan of scratch tracks. And I’m thinking about how I can offer people scratch tracks of other sorts—guides that can help them do well what doesn’t come easily.