Thursday, April 2, 2009

My Dark Past: The Choir

"Meno, Meno, Meno-no-no-raaaaaah!!! Meno, Meno, Meno-no-no-raaaaaaah!!"

We were 14 young boys and girls, singing our little hearts out about the most magnificent and magical holiday of Chanuka, being led by a little woman with a guitar, bouncing left and right as the metronome for the beat.

One late Friday afternoon at Shabbos Party, somebody must have seen us and gotten the bug. The drive. The ambition. The dream.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could enter these young Jewish children into a choir competition between other schools in the county, and humiliate them not just in front of their friends every Friday, but on a County-wide level?

Well, that's exactly what happened. Somehow, all of us ended up at some prestigious school one evening, dressed in our Shabbos best. As we were waiting in the halls, our little minds couldn't begin to comprehend what our parents and school had done to us.

We took our places on stage, along with about eight other choirs, in front of a packed auditorium of parents, school administrators, and most likely scouts for the next vocal wonder.

All the other choirs from the other schools came with gospel-esque robes and dresses. You know, the yellows, or blues, or peachy colors. The biggest difference between us and them was that they were all going to sing with the accompaniment of a piano. We had our little guitar-playing mother standing facing us.

Before the showcase (or competition. We never viewed it as any competition. A competition implies thoughts of winning.), everyone else started their vocal practice. We gawked and snickered when we heard the other schools singing "mama made me mash my m&m's" going up and down in tone, pitch, and whatever the heck else they could do and were experts at. We never practiced stuff like that. We had no idea what an octave was, or what baritone meant.

Then they played the national anthem, which of course all choirs started singing, and beautifully, if I may say so. Even if we had known all the words, most of us were too scared to sing too loudly with the rest, lest someone should hear us and kick us out even before we began.

When the rehearsal (competition??showcase??whatever...) began, we found out that a school choir actually was a pretty impressive display of pure vocal talent. The other schools sang beautiful songs, and in such harmony.

When it was our turn, we just did what we do best: We bounced with our guitar-mom and sang Meno, meno, meno-no-no-raaaah!!! as we had practiced, and knowing quite well that the stunned crowd would clearly have asked for an encore had they not been speechless, we launched right into Oseh Shalom Bimromav, the Reform-ish (and therefore kind of choir-ish) version. (That's why I spelled Bimromav that way, and not Bimroimav (see the difference?).) Oh yeah. Another difference between us and the others was that we couldn't sing. We didn't go through a rigorous screening process throughout the entire school.
We were just the ones to be at the wrong place, at the wrong time. And none of us could sing well.

There were of course judges at the event, and we were pretty sure after the night was through that our score and official remark would be: "Well, that was pretty cute, but a waste of a spot on stage, don't you think?"