I just removed myself from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir facebook group. It’s just a group for members of the choir and orchestra. While no one says you have to leave the group when you retire, it’s just not so applicable to non choir members. But, after my social media fast, I realize that there are things I can let go.
I’m still having a hard time NOT being in Bells on Temple Square. It’s been 4 months, so I should be over it, right? Well, I’m not. I think I haven’t finished the grieving process, and I need to go through a few more emotions before I can be done with that. So, I’m writing this for me. To help me work through. You can read it if you want, or not.
It’s hard to let go of something that was so amazing. This group was like a family to me. I know people say that about lots of groups, but really it was. It’s not a huge group like the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square (hard to type that, and it doesn’t really roll off the tongue just yet), but only about 30-35 people in the bell choir at any given time. Some of us have been there since the beginning, so 13 years. But, as we age out, that number is getting smaller.
This is our original group picture, and from that group, there are still 11 charter members. Some of them have taken breaks for babies, illness or personal reasons. I never took any seasons off, although I did miss one Christmas with the Tabernacle Choir concert. I won a trip to Cancun from a radio contest, and so I had to miss performing with the group for the Sissel concert, but I still did come to the concert and watch it.
We rejoice with people when they got married or had babies, we support each other when our kids leave on their missions, and honestly care about each other. We are sad when one of our own gets divorced, and we rejoice when they get married. While we don’t see each other outside of choir things too often, some of us do socialize in other areas. I’ve had bell friends come over for different occasions, we go to wedding receptions. But really, since we see each other once or twice a week, we do keep in touch. I can’t say that I was super close to every ringer, but I do have some very close friends. We have shared hotel rooms, shared lunches, dinners, shared folders, shared music, and shared each other’s lives.
It’s hard to let go.
I’m not saying it was perfect. It was not. My time in the choir was also hard. I missed out on a lot of things because I had rehearsal. I missed many of my kids’ concerts, I missed my family Christmas party nearly every year, I missed any ward activity that was on a Wednesday night. There were many things I couldn’t do because they were on Wednesday. But I was blessed so much, that it hardly seemed like a sacrifice. Wednesday night was my time. I knew that I would get to talk with my carpool, chat about what’s going on in our lives, see my friends, and then I would work really hard for two hours sight reading or learning music, working out hard passages, and just playing. To be bathed in and surrounded by beautiful and often very spiritual music for two hours every single week is a rare gift. Yes, when the time was over, I was spent. My brain was tired, my back would be aching and my feet might hurt. But I knew that my brain and my body had worked hard and it was a good feeling. To work hard on a common goal together and to rejoice together when we finally got things right was amazing. And I’m not trying to brag too much here, but this group really is amazing. I mean, if you think about how many hours we practice to get to that level, it makes sense (at least 1352 hours in the 13 years I was in the choir, by the way, and that’s a pretty conservative estimate of 2 hours per week. Many weeks we had rehearsal twice a week). Like, we’re kind of a big deal. Well, they are kind of a big deal. Now, I’m just a person that USED to be in the Bells on Temple Square.
It’s like that song, “Now you’re just somebody that I used to know”. That’s kind of how I feel. Like I’ve been dumped by a boyfriend.
I’m trying not to overglamorize my time spent with the group. There were times I felt like quitting. Seriously. There were times I was very frustrated, and times I would come home and cry. And not just at the very beginning, either. When we started, I was sure I was not good enough for the group and that I would NEVER be good enough. In fact, I know that I was not the best ringer there. I struggle with complex rhythm and my sight reading is not the best. I would see others around me playing perfectly while I struggled. At one point, I was told that I should not switch spots to ringing 4 in hand. I went home and cried and considered quitting. The next week I made some other obvious mistake and was so embarrassed I came home and cried again. I got reprimanded when I decided to do a play and had to miss 3 weeks of rehearsal. So, no, it wasn’t all just glam and roses. But, I got to perform with the most amazing musicians, got to be on tv with the choir, even got to go to the National Handbell Association Convention and perform in their closing concert.
June was the end of my service, and I was already in the midst of rehearsing a play that ended up being a wonderful experience, and kept me busy for July. Right after that there was a vacation, but when school started, and I didn’t go back to bells, the sadness hit me full force.
–To be continued.