The Occasion to Listen Only


Monday night, I stepped into Palmer Commons for our weekly choir rehearsal. But I sat in the back. I wasn’t going to sing that night, but rather, just listen.

Ian and I sing with the University Musical Society Choral Union. Among other large works we perform, often with orchestra, our choir has the longest, annual tradition of singing Handel’s Messiah. That’s what we’re working on right now. This choir has performed it every single year since 1879.

I walked in with a headache that had been present throughout the day. That headache had a way of making visual surroundings a bit overwhelming, so I decided I was going to have an auditory rehearsal only. I closed my eyes nearly the entire time and listened.

And it was a wonderful experience.

I know this piece well, but still, I heard parts from other sections that I had not really noticed before. And though I try to listen while singing also, it was helpful to hear the sound as a whole without my own voice.

This made wonder, in what other contexts might I make the decision to listen only? If I do, what might I hear differently? What have I not noticed before?

Renee Roederer


2 thoughts on “The Occasion to Listen Only

  1. Renee, what great timing! Our congregation is hosting an entirely different kind of Messiah on November 25. We are calling it Singalong Messiah.” No rehearsals. No auditions. Only requirement: bring your own score. Free soup supper afterwards. We hope to not only have singers, but listeners as well. I myself will be listening. My singing voice disappeared several years ago; therapy did not help. So now, I, who used to be just a little bit (a lot!) vain about my voice, will not be singing. But those who have no other opportunity to let their voices soar in these precious choruses now have that opportunity, thanks to as congregation (thrityish of us, median age 70ish) that is willing to take a chance. Our mission statement is to be a presence in the community and this is one way we can do it. I hope you will be able to sing—there is nothing closer to heaven, but I’m happy that you had the opportunity to listen. Blessings!


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