I have twenty minutes to share some thoughts regarding an experience that took place almost exactly a year ago.
In November of 2011, I was singing at the piano with my Muad'Dib some songs that I didn't know very well. And these songs also were special because every time I tried to sing them, I got emotional and couldn't sing through it. Anyone who really knows me will understand how odd that is. I might get emotional, but as a performer I can always sing through it.
And then Muad'Dib says, "You should do this in the ward." I ask the Relief Society if they'd be interested in me heading up a musical program that could be done for an activity. They agree, shocked, really that anyone would be willing to take on such a task, and I set to work.
It has been my experience as a member of the LDS church that talented people tend to hide or disregard their talent in the name of "humility."
So I sent around sign up sheets to gage interest in the ward: who would want to perform. I need soloists. When I mentioned the program to people, they all referred me to one person in the ward. ONE singer. ONE known soloist.
I sent around those sign up sheets for four weeks. I never had more names on it than in the first week and easily had half the willing participants I needed. I prayed and prayed for opportunities to mention singing, music and sharing talents in any lesson or venue possible. And finally came the day I had set aside for "auditions," where those who were interested in solos would come forward in a group and sing indiviually whereafter I would decide what song they would sing.
I'm not going to lie, I was surprised by who came, and only slightly surprised at the level of their vocalization. Every one of them declared clearly - though with self-deprecating humor - that they were not good singers. And had I taken them at their word, we would have had no program at all.
I am grateful that Heavenly Father gave me the opportunity to hear their voices beyond their words, that I might use my talents to bring theirs out.
It took courage and trust for them to sing for me that first time. I applaude each of them for coming. And after hearing each of them sing, I was confident that the program was going to be beautiful.
Fast forward past a montage of Sunday afternoon and Friday morning rehearsals with a bunch of women - a group that finally swelled to over 20 - who were willing to try. Yes, we reviewed the same songs and the same few measures per song OVER and OVER. And we laughed. We cried.
I taught them some physical warm ups.
There were a few of my expressions that made it into full-fledged sayings. Such as, "If you're going to mess up, do it loudly so I can hear you!" and "Everyone has a choir voice."
In May, by the time we performed the program (and the encore, since men weren't invited to the first one, being as it was a Relief Society Program), I had 8 soloists and a well trained women's choir that sounded heavenly.
Now, I have been party to choirs that had heavenly help at the end because they needed it, as in they would have sounded horrible without the heavenly help. But this was not the case with this choir. Any heavenly help afforded was a lifting of the talents they had already worked so hard to cultivate. It was angels singing with them, not for them. It was amazing. Because these women who didn't think they had it in them....did.
I cried every time. The trust, the fun.... The result. The sharing. Every moment was worthwhile. And I just wanted to say "thank you" to the women. I don't know how; and writing is what I do. So at least now it's finally out there.
And I would like to add to this record the incredible gratitude to Heavenly Father for my calling in my ward. Since the Women at the Well program, the Ward Choir has grown even more. And during the last two and a half years, I have been able to perform a job that serves others that makes me happy. It is perfect. And I am grateful, so, so, SO grateful.