Saturday, August 22, 2009

Stepping Outside the Comfort Zone

A couple of weeks ago, I sang alto for my church choir.

That might not seem so odd to anyone who doesn't know me; after all, altos aren't all that unusual to find in church choirs! I'm a soprano, though, so it was definitely a bit of a change. But at choir practice on the Thursday before, neither of our altos (we're a small group) showed up, and since I sing second soprano (basically, if the soprano line on a sheet of music has two different notes in the same place, I sing the lower one), our director asked if I'd sing the alto line that week. Always being willing to try something new (within reason, of course), I said I'd give it a try.

My music reading is probably not as good as it should be, though it's improved by leaps and bounds since I joined the choir last November. I tend to learn music better by ear than by sight, and being on the soprano line I don't have to do much frantic sight-reading because we nearly always carry the melody in anything we sing. So this definitely represented a very decided step outside my personal comfort zone; knowing my limitations, our director helped me through the lines that evening, and I took my music home so I could familiarize myself with it over the course of the next couple of days. And I admit that I cheated a bit; I'm familiar with the ABC music notation system and I have a copy of BarFly, so I simply coded the alto line of my sheet music in and practiced along with that, then found MIDI files of the music I needed online so I could get used to singing my part along with the other three. Hey, when I have such a short time to do what I have to, I figure I may as well use any advantage that I have in order to not make a fool of myself, even among friends. ;) In the end, we did very well that day, even though we only had six singers and received many compliments for the sound that we were able to produce. (Incidentally, I heard that the alto line came through nice and strong. *grin*)

It occurred to me afterwards that I had recently had another experience in which it paid off to step outside of my comfort zone—the day that I decided I'd give this choir a try in the first place. Although I had been calling myself a Christo-Pagan for years, the truth is that I was neglecting the Christo- part of that description; I was simply a Pagan who believed in Jesus, and perhaps at the time that was enough. When my choir director first approached me with the idea of joining the church choir, I was very much afraid that perhaps my background—being far from that of a traditional Anglican—would make me an outsider in this community and make the idea of joining the choir a very bad one indeed. I was rusty on any sort of Christian ritual, even if I did say the Rosary every once in awhile; when I do that, I precede it with the casting of a circle and a moving meditation that I learned after my Level 1 Reiki attunement (with words I've adapted for my own needs, of course). Stepping into the rehearsal room for the first time was probably one of the most nervous moments in my life up to that point simply because of the fear I had that I would somehow prove to be not equal or valuable to this community that I was joining.

As it turned out, I couldn't have been more wrong. Several long-established members of the choir have told me that they're glad I'm there, and I feel genuinely welcome every time I step into that poky little rehearsal room now.

There can be great benefits from stepping outside the comfort zone. I should make an effort to do so more often.

Perhaps I should attend the next Pagan Pride Day—after all, I've never done that before, either, and I'm sure it would be an enlightening experience!

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