What a Note to End On…

I subbed for choir just before Thanksgiving.

“As long as there is a class leader,” I said, “I can’t play piano to run their warm-ups.”

“Not even chopsticks?” the teacher asked?

“Haha…not even….”  I texted back.


My day was a little nerve wracking not knowing what to expect in each class.  My stomach flipped and growled each time the bell rang and a new group came in.

I watched as many of my usually rowdy students from math or science rose to the occasion and stepped up to the podium to take charge leaving me in the coveted, supervisory, position of responsible adult.  

The morning went well until the period before lunch.

Upper School Choir…

There were fifty-six students.

I usually have fifteen to twenty, max.

Fifty-six was rather pushing it.

In my notes the choir director had written,

“Give them the first five minutes to chat before beginning class.”

I recognized a lot of the older ones but soon lost track of them in the crowded and very noisy room.

I looked around and knew I’d lost them to the babble of dozens so I gathered the section leaders together and asked one of the girls,

“How does your teacher get them to be quiet?”

Her face took on a blank expression, she looked at the other leaders for inspiration then turned to me and said,

“Shout?…”  that annoying teenage inflection turning everything into a question said it all.

With an assortment of whistles and cries of “Hey Guys!” they calmed the choir down and I sent them, section by section, to their respective practice areas leaving 16 lovely altos in the room with me.

Aaaah. Peace at last.

Afterwards, during a hastily eaten lunch, I thought,

I’ll just say ‘no’ next time I’m asked to sub choir…

And then the final period happened.

It was Music Theory, a mixed group of 10th, 11th and 12th graders, 7 in all.

I had been left a quiz for them after which they were to have a study-hall.

When I’d collected all their papers one of the girls unpacked her guitar and started strumming and singing softly.


Lost in her work, oblivious to her surroundings, she began experimenting with note combinations and I realized she was writing a song.

Soon she was singing full out unaware that she had an audience who kept their heads bent over their books.

When she paused to re-work a phrase one of her peers said,

“My brain stopped and I looked up to see what had changed and you’d gone quiet.”

There were sighs and they all held their breaths waiting for her to pick up the song,

which she did,

full voice,

no holds barred.

I just sat in silence wrapped up in the melody, guided past emotions I’d done away with years ago, transported along roads of heart-ache by the bitter tang of her lyrics.

I didn’t want the period to end.

“Thank you so much for that,” I said as she packed up her bag and the bell rang.

She smiled.

“Wow!” I told Hubs later on, “next time I’m asked to sub for choir I’ll say ‘yes’ just to be able to listen to Lane.”

She made my whole, confusing,  somewhat nerve wracking day worthwhile.

What a joy and what a note to end on.

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