One Note Wonder
The sun had been up for an hour stealing morning’s chill. I had shared a solitude sunrise with a cup of coffee high in a tree, in the tree house built by my husband - complete with a “NO BOYS ALLOWED” sign.
A lone sparrow lit on an overhead branch, settled himself, and began to sing. Treeeeat! Treeeeat! Treeeat! He chirped - a single monotone song. What he lacked in musical ability, He made up for with enthusiasm -- his song a one-note solo. He didn’t know, or care, if he blended into the other bird’s halleluiah chorus. I found myself carried back some 40-plus years, and chuckled to myself as the slideshow of my mind played out a childhood scene.
I attended a very small school. Auditions weren’t required for any the choral groups. Every grade had one and no talent or singing ability was necessary. My friends and I signed up the first day – mostly drawn to the idea of a field trip in the spring to compete with other schools in the county in the yearly choral contest. Mrs. A, our music teacher, took these competitions seriously, and puffed up like a proud mother goose when her goslings came home with the trophy.
Because I have a fairly low voice, I could never reach the high notes. My friend, Patsy and I were designated as the alto section. Patsy easily harmonized with the melody singing sopranos, and she could belt it out like a musical foghorn. I, on the other hand, carried my tuneless pail as quietly as possible, but hid my lack of talent by standing hip to hip with Patsy, and softly following her lead. As long as Patsy stood by me, I was an alto.
But, when Patsy missed the practice session, I shivered solo; knowing Mrs. A would call attention to my unblending little voice. This morning as I watched my treetop sparrow sing his one-note wonder to the sky, I recalled a reoccurring childhood embarrassment. It happened every time Patsy missed practice, and I was alone “in the alto section.”
Mrs. A, a gray-haired matron, would pound out the tunes on her piano again and again, molding her songbirds into a flock that could bring home the gold. Wisps of hair disengaged from her topknot bun, as she feverishly strained to hear each of us sing while she played. Her rotund hips spread wide nearly filling the piano bench and she had a large flap of loose skin, where her chin should have been, that warbled when she talked like a big Tom turkey.
She was stern, but also kind. I’m certain she didn’t intend to embarrass me but, never the less, every time she stopped playing, tapped her baton on the top of the piano and announced to the ceiling, “Girls, girls, there’s someone off in the alto section,” I wished for some magical invisible power that would let me slither between the cracks of the black floor tiles. All my friends would twitter. My cheeks would braise pink and I’d strain to keep the floodgates behind my eyes in closed position. I was the alto section. It was obvious that someone was me!
It happened over and over again that year - every time Patsy couldn’t make practice. The next year I didn’t sign up for the choral group.
I haven’t sung for years, although I do hum softly to myself much of the time. But, this morning, as I watched that little sparrow, quite literally out on a limb singing his one-note wonder, I was reminded that song is a celebration of love. Who cares if you sing off key?
What I do know is that the sun rose this morning and warmed my face, a hush of a breeze kissed my cheeks. The trees were full with the melody, and the harmony, of heartland songbirds. A sparrow perched on an overhead branch and sang as though his tiny heart might burst. What he lacked in talent; he made up for with enthusiasm.
Be the sparrow.