By Arundati Iyer
I sit alone on the dusty, empty riser on a stage in a large hall. I hear the footsteps of another girl who has also arrived early. She climbs up the stage and sits next to me. As we wait for the rest of the choir to start rehearsal, I quietly begin humming. She starts singing her part with me, and gradually our volume increases. As each chorister walks onto the stage, the choral music grows to fill the enormous hall: our voices blend, the harmonies combining perfectly. We all depend on each other to sing our parts to make the choir whole. We do not imitate each other but add our character to the ensemble. The diversity held among thirty distinct voices is what creates our rich, complex sound. We not only must recognize our strengths and weaknesses but those of everyone around us.
In second grade, I joined Seattle Girls Choir to take my fascination with music to the next level. My piano teacher recommended it to me because I loved singing the songs I learned on the piano. Listening to different sounds has always fascinated me ever since I was a child. I would listen to all of the little sounds around me. Why does the doorbell sound so attention-catching? Why is that ambulance siren so dissonant? What song is that in the laundry machine? Singing in choir taught me the little nuances that certain pieces naturally have. I learned the difference between major and minor sounds, how to build chords, and how to recognize intervals. So no surprise that it isn’t really a passive activity when I listen to music. I start thinking about what key it is in, the time signature, how I can harmonize, and many other musical thoughts fill my brain. During my time in Seattle Girls Choir, my childhood curiosity for music became a deep appreciation for its construction.
Singing has given me an incredible opportunity to learn more about music, but it has also given me much more. The relationships and memories that I have gained will last a lifetime. When I look back at my time in the choir, I know that music will not be the primary focus of those fond memories, but instead, it will be the powerful passion that brought my friends together.
Like my first overnight camp, I will never forget the fear and panic I felt in my heart beating as I stepped onto that bus in the Nordstrom parking lot. Little did I know that it would become one of my favorite traditions I had ever experienced. A few hours later, all my fears vanished because of how helpful and inclusive the older girls were. Over the years, this camp has become one of my favorite summer activities. I will never forget the friends I made during that trip. Now that I know the power of feeling welcomed, supported, and loved, I will search for that environment wherever I go and continue to share it with others.
Truly the best part of the choir is that you can get that choral sound only from a large number of different voices. And that sound is made so powerful as the group bonds and makes connections. The cheeky glances we exchange during rehearsals and the jokes that Jake tells us all contribute to us uniting our thoughts as we sing. We ultimately use those bonds to become one incredible super voice; we represent the entire choir. During these past two years as a youth representative on SGC’s Board of Directors, I’ve learned that respect and inclusion within each choir level are even more important on the board and among its members.
The choir was the first place where my voice was fully welcomed and appreciated. It taught me to share my thoughts, speak up, and sing out. It has allowed me to grow into my voice rather than hiding and shying away from it. Most importantly, it has taught me to work and learn from others because there are some things that you honestly cannot do alone. It has taught me that every voice does matter and to encourage diverse perspectives. As I leave SGC, I will never forget the lessons and memories that I have gained. So thank you, Seattle Girls Choir, for helping me find my voice.