Friday, August 15, 2008

Girls Group Reunion Tour

One hobby of mine that I neglected to share with you is that I am a church musician. I have done this work since I was 10. Sister Mad Face took about 8 talented 5th graders, (my grade at the time), taught us all that hard Latin music, and had a permanent choir for 3 more years until we graduated. For her sake, it sure did beat trying to pound that stuff that was used one time a year into a new group of recruits every year.

I had been in church choirs off and on as an adult. Some gigs lasted longer than others, because in my young adult years, we moved around a bit. I only sang in these choirs, because I was just learning how to play the guitar. When we finally settled down in one place, I joined the church choir, and we had a great time together. But I like to learn things quickly, and in a traditional choir, you do a lot of sitting while all sections learn their parts. It drove me crazy, and I dropped out after a couple of years. I started a teen guitar group, which hung together for a while, but this also seemed to fizzle out.

In the 1980's, I was asked to become part of a church group of musicians that grew to include 5 permanent members. ALL GIRLS. We got to be very good, and we provided music for special occasions as well as for the weekend services. Our voices blended well, we had all ranges from high soprano to bass. We had 4 of the people who could play keyboard, and at times, we had 4 keyboards playing various parts of the music, bass, violin, flute, as well as a real piano. I'm the guitarist, but two of the keyboard people could also play guitar if we needed that for the songs we were playing. The joy of playing and singing in this group was that it was creative work, we were all good friends, and the people in the church really liked our music.

We saw each other through thick and thin, sickness and health, death of family members, divorces and remarriages, first marriages (our youngest member). We were together for 14 years, until people started to move away. This seemed to happen sort of at the same time. I left in 1997, and shortly afterward the group ceased to be a group, as only 1 person was left in the area.

Our days together were very special. As musicians, we knew each other's strengths and weaknesses, and we challenged each other to be better. Our fearless leader, our main keyboard player, kept us on track, and corrected us if we got sloppy with our playing and singing. She was a teacher, and used her teaching skills to hone the group into a tight successful musical ensemble.

When you move away from something so special, it is hard to replace it in your life. I became a parish musician at my new home, and our choir developed a wonderful rapport, but the only instrumentalists were myself and the organist. She and I developed a very close relationship, as she is older and a former professional musician with lots of formal training and many, many musical experiences. She, too, taught me many things. But it was never the same as it was with the Girls Group.

Now I have moved back to my old neighborhood, and although the look of the parish group has changed, (three parishs with diminishing populations combined to form one mega-church!), I'm back to the same group of people as fellow parishioners. However, I have not found the same musical niche as I had before.

Now the friends we knew for 30 years from the old church are dying, and our Girls Group has been asked to sing at two funerals this summer for friends of ours. Just being together is wonderful, we still listen to each other and play well together, and our voices find just the right range and place to be. Typical exchange--"Are you singing alto, no? Oh, then you sing melody and I'll sing descant..." and that happens in 15 minutes before the service begins.

The Girls Group came together for late Mr.'s funeral. It was so wonderful to have that music for this very special occasion. One funny note--several key members of the Girls Group always take a vacation together, and they were leaving the day after late Mr. passed away. So, I just postponed the funeral until they could get back, it was that important for me to have them sing.

As I said in yesterday's post, you make new friends, but you keep the old. We are all over a certain decade in age, but are quite young at heart. And when we get together, it is a marvelous day for all of us. Our Reunion Tour hopefully can continue, too bad it has to be scheduled around the loss of friends.

These are my golden friends, those whom I cherish deeply.

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