The August weather challenged my mind as I assembled my team for the Christmas production while coordinating thirty-six children ranging from ages 6-12. It was a small group of volunteers including a piano player to tap the notes for the children.
It would be my first experience organizing and conducting a children’s choir at church. I was up for the challenge in spite of the inattentiveness of the children. The plan was to create a musical production in less than four months. Many did not have stage experience or even participated in a full musical production. Many could not read musical notes or dance. Yes, it would be a first for everyone so let the fun begin!
Excitement filled the air and many older girls were practicing for the coveted part – Mary’s solo. There were other solo parts to be had but this one was the best in the production (according to the children). It was no wonder many girls lined up for their chance to win the lead solo (or at the very least, to be the understudy).
When the line of hopeful singers was exhausted, I asked if there were any more singers ready to try out for this special solo. Everyone looked around but no one raised their hand. Then my attention turned to someone sitting in the back of the room.
She was a six-year old cute blonde girl. Her big eyes hid behind the bashful smile as she looked intently at me. I had not noticed her before until now. Then my mouth opened as the words flowed out softly towards her direction – “Would you like to try out for this solo?”
Her eyes widened as she nodded.
Slowly she made her way through the sea of seated children until she stood in front of me. I knelt down to meet her eyes and asked her name. My pianist had the biggest smile as she positioned herself for my cue.
The music began as I waved my hand to conduct her lead-in. Suddenly, the softest, sweetest voice emerged from this little singer. My heart melted (as did the pianist as portrayed by her body language) as I listened to her sing every note to perfection. Even some of the older girls reacted with a hushed “Awww” as the room became quiet during this audition.
My emotion was confirmed at that very moment – this little six year-old would be our lead soloist! There was no doubt about it. She would be our “Mary” in the musical. While there were other good potential soloists, this was one of those moments in which your brain leaves no doubt that the selection is right.
During the performance, our little “Mary” sang her solo like a seasoned performer. The audience reacted the same way we all did during the auditions. Everyone was blessed by her talent, cuteness, and delivery of the song.
Fast forward eleven years to 2016. I have since passed the torch to other capable conductors.
One of our family holiday traditions is to watch the children’s musical to kick-start our holiday festivities.
This year was no different until I saw the best surprise I could ever imagine!
Who would be on stage with the other 30+ children but a taller, sandy-blonde young lady that looked very familiar to me!
It was that former six-year old singer who auditioned for the “Mary” solo at my first children’s production. She loved her years in the children’s choir so much that she willingly gave back her time to this same choir as an alumni!!!
She did not play the role of “Mary” nor did she sing any solos. Her role was to support the choir by playing a small, yet important, part of their production. I was so proud of her and how much she has grown. I was equally proud that her years in the children’s choir made a strong enough impression for her to volunteer her time to the next generation of singers.
Oddly enough, as I watched her on stage, my mind will always remember that six-year old “Mary” who captured the hearts of everyone so long ago.
Christmas is here!!!