Last night was the local Community Choir's holiday concert. Erin sang. I've watched her perform on violin and piano and in choirs, dozens and dozens of times but I've never been so proud. Not so much of what she did, but of whom she has become.
She sang in a children's choir for two or three years when there was a wonderful choir director running a children's choir in Nelson on the day we happened to be there for piano lessons. That hasn't worked out for a couple of years, but she has eagerly sung in the choirs that same choir director leads during the Summer School of Music week. She chose to join the more challenging adult choir during the summers, an option for the most advanced teen and tween piano students. She got her feet wet that way with four-part choral arrangements, and with many of the local adults who, during the remainder of the year, make up the community choir. Several of them asked her during the 2005 summer school choir if she was going to join the community choir in the fall. She thought about it, but decided not.
They hinted around again in 2006 and she decided to jump aboard. I knew she'd do fine musically and I knew she'd cope socially, but I never expected that she would blossom into an independent, confident, competent member of an adult group. There are two really nice 15-year-olds in the choir; one is a Japanese exchange student who is Erin's equal on piano, the other a down-to-earth kid who moved to the area a year ago. Leaving aside these three, the average age of the choir is over 50.
But age aside, they all love their music and they love the hard work they do together to bring together a concert. Rehearsals were once a week for the first 8 weeks and then twice a week (sectionals alternating with full choir rehearsals) for the past month. Choir rehearsals have been the highlight of Erin's life this fall.
Over and over again over the past month or two, long-time members of the choir have been pulling me aside whenever they see me to tell me how thrilled they are to have Erin in the choir, what a wonderful voice she has, how she stunned them by having all nine pieces memorized at least a month before the memorization deadline, and how much she's come into her own since joining at the end of September.
I had glimpses of the transformation over the past month or two ... arriving to pick her up near the end of rehearsals I'd see choir members teasing her, giggling with her; I'd watch the banter and seeing the mutual enthusiasm for the work and the fun. They love her; she loves being with them.
But the concert clinched it for me. There she stood, all 4-foot-10 of her, in the midst of all those adults, positively exuding joy and confidence. She sang from her heart - her whole heart, every bit of it. She has grown into her true self. Choir is the first challenging thing she's taken on completely on her own, without my help or input or support, with no siblings along, driven solely by her passion. She defined it as hers, she took it on, created her own expectations unsullied by mine. She created her own social niche unhampered by the expectation of fitting into a group of supposed peers. There was nothing between her and what she wanted to be doing.