I had a minor epiphany this weekend. I've generally been okay with the path my life has taken. I'm doing one of the jobs that I've dreamed of doing since I was a little kid, and I'm now actually making a pretty good living at it. But there are still the moments when I wonder what else could have happened with a different path. I've also always had an interest in music, though very little opportunity to develop it other than school band. I didn't even realize until I was an adult that what I was able to do in singing was at all unusual. Even as a little kid, I could match pitches when singing with a record, and then I could sing those songs on my own without the record and still carry the melody. I might not always have started with the pitch as on the record, but I was able to maintain the proper intervals from that starting pitch, and once I heard a song, I could sing it. It might take me a little longer to learn the words, but I had the notes down. When a friend was talking to a music teacher about her kid being able to do something like that, the music teacher got excited and said she had to get that kid into some kind of music classes.
So that's made me wonder what opportunities I might have missed by not getting the training. It's not even purely a "road not taken" thing because even if I had decided I wanted do this, the chances just weren't there where I was. You had to already have a certain degree of training to even get into a university music program. I couldn't have shown up with some raw talent, a bit of time in church youth choirs and a serious case of stage fright and been accepted as a voice major at any university. So, yeah, there has been some occasional resentment at having a talent that wasn't allowed to be developed until it was already probably too late to go anywhere with it.
This weekend, I went to the holiday concert of the University of North Texas One O'Clock Lab band and Jazz Singers. The band gets nominated for Grammy awards all the time, and this is one of the better music schools in the nation and probably the best school anywhere for jazz, so their student concerts are like hearing top-level professional performers. I hadn't heard the Jazz Singers before. They're a mostly a capella group, though in this concert they did some pieces with the band. And I was in awe. They blended so perfectly that they sounded like one voice. And I sat through their whole set just aching to do that kind of thing. I was having a massive case of wanting a do-over on my entire life.
I mentioned this to some friends, who suggested that maybe it wasn't too late to go back to school. I don't think that's really practical, and even now there's no way I could get into a music program at UNT, and even if I could be allowed to take some classes just for fun, those ensembles are insanely competitive. But then I had the realization that I don't actually want to do that with my life as a profession. Even as a solo performer, music requires a lot more interacting with people than I really want to do in order to do it for a living. I'm too much of an introvert for that. I think what I really want is to be a lot better at something I do for fun, and I would love to find more opportunities to do more interesting kinds of things as a hobbyist. That's the challenge. The church choir is fun, and we do get to do some challenging things occasionally, and there's always variety, but there are limits to what you can do with a group that accepts everyone who wants to be in it. I jokingly suggested to the director that we could do the kind of music the Jazz Singers did, and he laughed. I don't know of any more selective groups around that might do more intense stuff, and even then, the rehearsal and performance schedule are probably more than I could deal with.
I am thinking of starting some serious voice lessons (I did a six-week session in college, then have taken a few voice classes over the years, but that's about it) once I get the whole house buying/selling/moving thing over with, but that will probably just amount to being better at singing in the choir and in any ensembles or solos. My solo and ensemble opportunities just about dried up with the new director because he's doing less of it and since he used to be in the choir here, he's calling upon the people he knows, and I hadn't made it past the stage fright when he was here, so I guess he doesn't think of me. I'll just continue to make myself available and look for bigger community things like the Mozart Requiem I did a couple of years ago.
But otherwise, it's nice to come back to the realization that I'm on the right path, that I didn't miss out on anything, and that I wouldn't have wanted the life that came with any other path, even if I'd had the opportunities.
Now to go lock myself in my cave and happily write with no one around me to bother me.