Gospel Choir: To Stay or Not?

That’s right! This is, for those of you who don’t know, my second semester as a member of my university’s gospel choir. Gospel choir has really been an experience; the music is so different to anything I’ve ever been involved with and the environment is fantastic. Plus my director is one of the friendliest people I’ve met on campus.

So why am I seriously considering quitting?

I love the music, but the problem is, I’m lonely. And for some reason, this has always happened to me in any musical ensemble I’ve been in.

I was in band from 5th grade to senior year; at first, all my friends and I joined together. Then, as the years went on, they all dropped out and I remained, and somehow, I was left friendless and alone. I only continued with marching band junior and senior year, where I had really only one real friend that I clung to, and she likewise held on to me. But I stopped being a member of the concert ensemble; there, no one even looked at me, and for the record, I hated the dry pieces my director always chose. Quitting felt like liberation.

I’d been in choir from 5th to 8th grade, and it was the best; once again, all of my friends and I were in it together, and I relished in singing my heart out. I auditioned for my high school’s top choirs, but to my dismay, I failed my audition and was placed in the lowest rung; angered, I quit instead. I missed it, though, and it was for this reason that I joined gospel choir in college, hoping it would be as fun as it sounded.

The first semester was amazing; I loved the music, I loved singing, and I loved the people there. I had joined with a few friends and together we all lived the experience together. Second semester suddenly wasn’t the same, however. When I returned, all but one of my friends, who sings in a different section than me, had decided not to return. I didn’t mind, figuring I could just mingle with my fellow altos. But for some reason, they had all formed this big clique, and I was left excluded, standing alone in the back row during every rehearsal because no one bothered to come near me. My director would ask us to clap and dance to the music, but how could I when I was feeling so cast out?

I began to sneak out of rehearsals early, and eventually, I stopped going. My director noticed. He asked that I come back, partially because my presence was missed (by whom?), and partially because he didn’t want to be forced into assigning me an “Unsatisfactory” grade for not showing up. I came back, and even though the music was beautiful and moving, I felt nothing. I was somber and unsmiling, and all I found myself doing was singing flatly while my eyes were glued to the clock, hoping rehearsal would end soon.

Today is concert day, and I’m sitting in the auditorium waiting for the clock to strike 3 so the show can begin. When my director saw me, he immediately came to say hello and asked if I was excited. I lied and said I was.

I feel guilty, for some reason. My director, it seems, really wants me to stay. He keeps singling me out, asking me to come to office hours so he can hear me sing one-on-one. “You’ve got a lot of potential!” he says. “I just need to hear it!” He keeps asking me to join the smaller, harder gospel ensemble, which comes as a shock to the girl who could never pass an audition, much less was ever invited to join a higher ensemble. And overall, he just seems to care about me as a person.

Will I feel better by quitting? Will I feel better by getting more involved? I don’t know what to do anymore.

The Pros:
The music is great.
I really like singing.
Being here keeps my singing voice active.
My parents love coming to see me perform.
My director sees potential in me and keeps trying to push me to do more with this so-called talent I have.
It’s something. I don’t want to spend my college years doing nothing.

The Cons:
I’m lonely. And even in face of all the good things, that’s a grueling obstacle to overcome.

Should I quit at the end of this year, or stick it out one semester?


6 thoughts on “Gospel Choir: To Stay or Not?

  1. So let’s think a bit, shall we. And please, if my words sound mean or haughty or what not, change them. I really really don’t mean to offend. I just want to help like you helped me. So, imagine me saying this the nicest way possible?

    Who are you singing for? For you? For your enjoyment? Or are you singing to praise?

    Also, will you? will you really feel better by quitting? By throwing in the towel? Sure, maybe at first it will seem like liberation, but won’t you feel better later knowing you kicked discouragement’s behind? Get good grades for you! Sing your heart out! Sing for the enjoyment of singing! Sing for HIS praise! Sing. Smile. Feel good about you! About what you’re doing. Don’t give that group the satisfaction of putting you down. Rise above it! You can do it! Don’t let them ruin something so special for you.

    Your choir director seems to really believe in you. Believe in yourself too. Work your butt off at singing, join the smaller group, see what you can do. (: Ignore those ignoring you, or better yet, smile at them. You don’t have to value their opinion so much.

    About your loneliness, look around. Is there someone else looking/feeling lonely too? Is there someone else that doesn’t seem to quite fit in? If so, get to know that person. They might just be so much cooler than the big clique.

    And if there isn’t anyone out there like that, then take full advantage of the hand of friendship your choir director is offering. Take music books or sheet music you might like to talk about with him during the breaks. Or simply take a book and read when there’s a gap and time to feel lonely. It’ll be ok. I think it’d be good for you. Not just for the “doing something”, but also to know you can deal with situations like that. Because you can!

    I’m sorry the comment is so big. 😦 But I hope it helps. (: Good luck! I’m cheering for you!

    • Thank you so much! This really helped out. It’s true, I sincerely love singing and love the music, and I think ultimately I would feel sad no longer being a part of that.

      I’m also hoping that next year, with a new wave of freshman coming in, there will be some new faces to change things a bit.

      I think I’ll give it one more semester for sure!

  2. If you feel like you gave it your best and there is nothing else you can give or get out of this than I would say to get out. College is the time that you get to join new things and drop them as you like because once you are in the real world you can’t really do that anymore. This is the time when you find you way.

  3. You feel lonely because you don’t have relationships with people in the choir? Or because something about the music triggers a sense of loneliness? If it’s because of the lack of relationships…well, that takes time in which case another semester might make a difference. And maybe the harder smaller group would help build relationships also. Heck – how does your stomach feel when you think of one option or the other? That’s how I make all my big decisions.

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