The Sequin That Bugged Me

It was on my shoulder, and it was bugging me, one shiny sequin that I’d failed to see when I’d cut them off my second-hand sweater. It was a blue and green floral, found in a thrift store, hardly worn, but the sequins dated it. to the 80s.

So I’d cut them off, except for one.

The new director was working with the sopranos. I was a new alto, having been demoted (or promoted) from my tenor part position which I’d held for nine years. The old director had asked me what part I sang. I auditioned, and she put me in the part of my choice.

Not the new guy. He had each of us sing for part placement. It was early July, and my allergies were bad. Plus, I hadn’t sung regularly since the pandemic began.

I know, excuses, excuses. Anyhoo, he told me I had a nice tone in my upper register.

I’d dropped out of organized chorus in 9th grade, when the new chorus teacher did nothing with us for two weeks. I was bored, and all my friends were in Home Ec.

“Drop chorus and switch to our class,” they said.

I did and then regretted it for 40 years. It turned out the high school chorus (10-12th) had a great teacher. Everybody looked like they were having so much fun. They wore matching outfits while performing. One couple met in show choir and are still married, almost 50 years later.

But I digress.

Back to the sequin. I kept tugging on it because the director was busy with the other half of the room.

“Are you alright?” Linda asked.

“Yes, it’s just this sequin,” I said. “I’d like to take it off.”

By this point I had my fingernail scissors out of my purse (I cut my sister’s nails for her at the care home), and I was trying to cut it off with my right hand, but it was on my right shoulder. I couldn’t reach it. I’m not a contortionist.

“There, I got it,” Linda said, “but I don’t want to pull on it and make a hole.”

“It’s okay,” I said.  “It’s just my OCD.  ll have to take off my sweater.”

Since I already had the scissors out, I trimmed a thread by a buttonhole.

“Altos, stand up!” the new director said.

I jumped up as he led us through our measures while the sopranos got a rest.

The week before, I ccouldn’t hit any of the high notes in my part. I wanted to go back to tenor.  I strained my voice and sounded like a screech owl.

Then I asked my youngest if she had any advice for me on how to reach those notes. She is also an alto.

“Mom, do you know about head voice and chest voice?”

I’d heard the previous director use those terms, and also the jazz group leader, but I didn’t really know what they meant. Why had I dropped out of chorus in 9th grade?

“Hmm,” I said in a text. “What are they?”

“Ask your director,” she said.

My director has 100 people coming at him all the time.

I went to YouTube instead and watched three videos that explained range, registers, head voice and chest voice. The little lightbulb went off. Ah ha!

I tried singing softer and opening up my soft palate, if you will.  Voila! I could reach those notes after all.

I also cut off the sequin. 

Life is good.

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