Jack Frost roasting on an open fire, chestnuts nipping at your nose

Me singing at the Candlelight Processional in Epcot.

Photo by Jan Eldredge, one of the two best photographers I know.

There may be people out there who’ve had more cool experiences than I have, but I’ve definitely been pretty lucky in that regard. I’ve met a lot of awesome people and had a lot of unique adventures, and last week I got to add one more to my catalog: singing at the Candlelight Processional at Epcot in Walt Disney World. I joined a megachoir composed of choirs from several local schools, Disney cast members, and Epcot’s own Voices of Liberty in singing Christmas hymns at the America Gardens Theatre, while a celebrity narrator recounts the Christmas story. I went as part of a combined student/faculty choir from the high school I work at.

I almost didn’t get to participate; I had food poisoning the night of our audition, and so I wasn’t guaranteed a spot. I was essentially an understudy, rehearsing and learning the songs just in the hope that I would get to sing. With so many people involved, I believed the odds of getting to sing were good, but I didn’t get the word until less than an hour before we took the stage. I don’t think the kids in our group realized I night not get to sing, but the faculty with us knew, and knew how deeply disappointed I was getting ready to feel. Luckily, things worked out like I’d hoped.

I’m a better than average singer, but choral singing really doesn’t play to my strengths. My vocal qualities and [lack of] training seem to make me better suited for singing pop, country, and showtunes. (Hence my love of karaoke.) When it comes to choral music, my poor breath support seems to be more of an issue, and I’m not really great at blending with a lot of other singers. I’m more equipped to belt songs out. On the upside, choral singing is more forgiving than solo singing. If I need to take a breath mid-note, nobody’s really gonna know. I don’t think I embarrassed myself, anyway.

Learning the tunes was no easy task. One might think, “Christmas songs . . . everybody knows them, so what’s the big deal?” But I had to learn these specific arrangements, and my specific part within these arrangements. There wasn’t a lot of rehearsal time for faculty, since we don’t have the luxury of 45 minutes a day given over to chorus class. We rehearsed on Wednesdays after our meetings, and I worked on learning my parts from a part CD during my commutes to and from school. Instead of biking like usual, I walked a lot during the last three months so that I’d have more time to go over all fifteen songs over and over again.

I get a high every time I’m in front of a crowd—stage fright isn’t a big worry of mine. This experience was made all the cooler by the fact that I was on stage at Disney World, which is a pretty special place to me. I also loved getting to hang out backstage at Epcot. I hope I get to do this again at some point–next time I’ll have a leg up on knowing my part!

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