In the fertile ground of my imagination, I have the beautiful singing voice of a glorious meadow lark, whose sweet melody is pure rhapsody to the weary soul. In the harsh light of reality, however, my singing voice sounds more like the raucous cawing of an old crow. I open my mouth expecting to hear Julie Andrews and Edith Bunker comes out. This is inherently unfair. I have a great passion for music and just enough musical talent to be frustrated.
My father was a professional musician. He played piano and organ on live radio and television back in the day, and accompanied some well-known singers, such as Bing Crosby, Doris Day, and Rosemary Clooney. He could do some pretty amazing things, such as sight transpose, and he could play songs in one key in the right hand and a different key in the left—at the same time. This of course sounded gosh awful, but it was always a hit at birthday parties. I did manage to inherit a tidbit of his musical ability, for which I am grateful, as playing the piano and organ are usually a relaxing outlet for me. And although I grew up with his sometimes harsh criticism of my less than perfect technique (his idea of a compliment was along the lines of, “That didn’t sound too impossible”), I am still happy that I have a small degree of musical ability. And I have come to terms with the fact that my natural talent will never equal his. This is okay. He couldn’t neuter a cat.
The one thing I have never come to terms with, however, is the fact that God didn’t give me a beautiful singing voice. I know we are supposed to be content with the gifts God gives us and not want someone else’s gifts. But singing is the one gift I truly covet. I can listen to someone whose voice moves me to tears and ask, “Why couldn’t I have that voice?” Why can’t I be the person who raises my hand when the choir director asks for volunteers to sing the solo parts of a piece of music instead of hiding behind my choir book saying, “Ain’t no way?” I suppose, in actuality, I could volunteer to sing a solo, but not if I don’t want to be un-invited to join the church choir. And our church choir takes anybody. No talent necessary.
People tell me, “But you can play the piano!” Yes, I know, and I don’t want minimalize that gift, but why can’t I do both? There are other people who are musically talented in both singing and playing an instrument. Why not me? There’s probably nobody who would appreciate the ability to have magnificent melody flowing from my mouth as much as I would. Perhaps the Good Lord knew it would be too much for my pride to handle. But it sure is frustrating to have an ear for music—I have perfect pitch for crying out loud—and to have the singing voice of a bullfrog with Strep throat.
As if that isn’t bad enough, my husband had to go and make things worse.
“I wish I could sing like an angel,” I lamented to him.
“Angels don’t sing. They chant,” he replied. “Nowhere in the Bible does it say angels sing.”
“What? Are you sure?” He had to be wrong. “What about the angels in the Christmas carol? You know, Hark the Herald Angels Sing?”
“That’s in a song. It’s not in the Bible.”
Well. If that didn’t deflate my balloon! What a letdown! “Then where did the expression ‘sing like an angel’ come from?” I challenged.
“I don’t know. But angels don’t sing. They chant.”
I brightened up. “Well then, I have the voice of a chanting angel!”
I’m sorry I never heard your Dad play, I Know musicians, like my guitar teacher who could do the same as your Dad, I just took pleasure in listening to the music and especially watching their hand. Its such a shame that kids today have no interest in learning how to do that. All they want is computer generated trash. I know I was never on par with your Dad or my teacher, but I learned enough that at least people didn’t walk out the room. It always bother me that my singing was not of a very high quality, but I didn’t care, I loved to sing and since I could play, ity worked out, As for you, I;ve never heard you sing and I suspect its not as bad as you say, but you have incredible talent on the keyboard and I’m sure the combo is a good mix. If you want to hear a singer who will knock your sox off, check out Eva Cassidy. She’s no long with us, died 20 years, but her voice will bring a tear to ear with its crystalen (sp) quality. Start Over the Rainbow, which I hated, but with Eva, its now a favorite and What a Wonderful World, Keep a couple of kleenex’s close . She was 33 when she died ( cancer) and her career was just ready to take off. When you listen to what the world missed, Its very sad.
BTW, I got called on a similar mistake when talking to my boss at the time who was a Baptist Minister ., WE were talking music and I brought up the song God Bless the Child which I thought was parable. Joe just looked at me and said that was just a song, ( a great song in my eyes)., but had no Bible significence, . I thought geez, i might be able to score some brownie point with that, LOL.
Great post, as always, Ellen. I didn’t know your father was so musical! Do you play piano and organ for your church?
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