We were the motely-get-together-whenever-we-can-choir, from all corners of the globe and all corners of the state of Tasmania, but our choir teacher, Erica, was a talented music teacher who didn’t mind our varying skills and took delight in our different cultural backgrounds.
Erica would help us to find our pitch and tone. She’d do this by patiently singing a note, or if she had access to it, by playing a piano or keyboard note.
We sang mostly at the end of or during breaks in Baha’i meetings when the whole state came together. Sometimes we sang at a wedding if the bride and groom requested it.
I still remember us all being lined up with tallest at the back and shortest at the front. We knew we had graduated when we were in that back row.
Erica herself, was not very tall, had thick rimmed glasses, and very bright twinkly eyes. She had a very tall musical repertoire though and a quick wit.
There were no stars in our choir, we were all treated equally. Sometimes people sang solo as it made the pieces interesting, but that wasn’t that often.
One of the trickiest things we had to do was sing rounds. It helped if you weren’t right next to someone singing the other part so we would try to wriggle a gap if we could or cover our ears. But eventually we got used to it and they sounded so brilliant. They became my favourite thing in choir.
Not every child was keen on choir, and they did try and escape, but for me it was a joy. I loved it and am sure it gave me lots of confidence in other areas of creative endeavour.
One of the things that made it possible for us to sing together, even though we were so irregular, was that we sang the same songs and prayers back in our home communities, or if we didn’t we took them back with us and kept singing them after she had taught us.
Sometimes she played the tunes to us from a tape recorder. Often she would become excited when she had a new one to introduce to us.
When Erica couldn’t take choir, it wasn’t the same. I think she had a lot of patience and no-one else could match it.
One day when I was a teenager visiting Sydney I went to the Baha’i temple there and was mesmerised by the choir that sings on Sundays.
I thought of Erica and our motely-get- together-whenever- we- can-choir and respected her even more, for bringing just a small reflection of that experience into the lives of some small town Tasmanian children.
Thank you for sharing that memory. It is lovely to know that you got so much from it. At least there was at least one child who enjoyed singing, because sometimes one was more conscious of the ones who didn’t enjoy it, as they made it very clear!
I am trying to remember which Baha’i rounds we would have done then – maybe “A Plea for one world”, and certainly “God sufficeth”. I do not remember specifically which songs I would have done with you- perhaps Blessed is the Spot, God is One, Building Bridges – there are so many children’s songs which I have done over the years with the Baha’i children and it was always fun!
Inspired by the Who Shaped Me project for ABC Open this month’s Pearlz Dreaming blog theme will be about the people who inspire me and there are lots of them!