On one of her first nights at the helm, our new director asked the choir, “Do you read music? Raise your hand if you do.”
Well, ability to read a score is not one of the requirements for joining and we have no auditions, so it was a fair question.
To my surprise, my hand stayed down. Just what did Megan Henderson mean by “read music”? Hear it in my head, the way a composer, conductor, or professional performer would? Not me!
Immediately identify a note on the staff? Well, I studied violin, but that was in the treble clef and I sing in the bass clef and that causes a delay when I have to translate what I see as G to a the B it really is before I pipe up.
Sight read? Well, sometimes yes. For many of the notes on the page, I know how they feel or fit in my throat and on my tongue.
And then there’s the matter of keeping time. Sometimes I’m a stickler for the beat, but sometimes I miss. Just saying.
It helps being in a good section, surrounded by strong musicians. But then it’s also fun when we sing mixed, surrounded by the other parts instead.
So do I read music? I really should have raised my hand – halfway.