The Musical Detour That Changed My Life

It’s hard to believe that it’s already been seven years since the life-altering summer day I stumbled onto the Mormon Tabernacle Choir‘s audition announcement.

It’s time for the annual audition process. Get your audition packet HERE between July 1 – August 15th, 2014. May the force be with you!

My Story

Unlike millions of musical Mormons, being a member of the ‘MoTab’ was not at the top of my “bucket list”. If it was ever on the list at all, it would have ranked somewhere between “walk barefoot through fire” or “dive off a cliff“.

OK, OK, I acknowledge both of those items probably rank at the very top of some people’s lists! I, however, prefer not to raise the odds of early death and/or dismemberment! So, yes, for a majority of my life the idea of  singing in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was akin, in my view, to “early death”. Not as physical peril, but as ‘career killer’. I was a professionally trained singer working toward a professional singing career. The idea of choosing to become an unpaid choir member requiring the same time commitment [or more] of a professional singer definitely was not “logical”. Taking this road = end of the solo career dream.

UNLESS…you happen to be [former] MoTab chorister Super Star [& my good friend!] Alex Boye, of course!! – :D Woot!! [Love you, Alex!]

But, as life proves time and time again, despite our hardest efforts moving along a path we think is right, sometimes God has a completely different road in mind up ahead. [We tend to forget Who makes the roads & directs the traffic] And so it was, on a warm July evening in 2007 my life took an unexpected detour.

follow-detour-ahead

Something very large churned deep inside me as I looked at the computer screen. The pressure of the idea built until it bubbled up and spilled out into four decisive words:

 “I need to audition”

Really? Well…OK then.

The way was clear, although the reason or destination was not!

Perhaps it would be an exercise in “humility”? Perhaps I would gain some useful musical experience from the process. Or, perhaps I was just meant to show my “willingness to follow” God’s spirit, and then He would guide me on from there.  I could say “I did it”. The more I pondered, the more I was convinced I would NOT be accepted. It was all about the journey, not the destination. So, I swore husband and kids to secrecy. I didn’t want any added pressure from friends and family “rooting” for me, and then having to “disappoint” them.

If interested, you can see how my “secret audition plan” was foiled HERE.

This audition experience is not a simple undertaking! It’s longer and more intense than any audition I have ever experienced before. Those brave folks who decide to launch their audition process this month are embarking on a quest where they must successfully pass through three levels.

Kind-of sort-of [not really] like this quest… but still epic!

Hundreds of applications are sent each year. In the end, only about 60 will win a seat. This year’s group won’t find out if they’ve “made the cut” until sometime in November. And, the letter announces they’ve been accepted to the Chorale at Temple Square, which is all part of an intensive training period, called “Choir School”. In January 2015 the newbies will begin “Choir School” which requires two nights per week from January-March 2015 and most Sunday mornings. Perfect attendance is required. Eventually, after ‘practice runs’ performing in Sunday morning broadcasts, they will eventually take their final exam and then during April – May 2015 closest family and friends will be invited to join a private ceremony where they “officially” become a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir receiving a blessing which “sets them apart” to serve as a Musical Missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

It’s the only volunteer Church service calling I am aware of where people actually work, train, study, audition, and “compete” for it! :D ha ha

And after all of that processing and training, guess what? I was still unprepared for the deluge of music, the hard work, the time commitment, and the pace! For many months I felt dizzy trying to keep up; so much to learn, so little time before performing on international TV and RADIO every single Sunday morning…week after week…and Special Concerts, and General Conference, and recording weeks, and TOURS, and the list goes on and on…!

As the popular Choir phrase goes:

“Get in, buckle up, and hang on for the ride of your life – You’re on the speeding train that never stops!”

And what a ride it is!

mosopmotab

 

This is Choir life! And, once you adjust to the speed,  and the commitment, it’s quite a thrill! My seven years have flown by like a dream. I’ve hardly had time to stop and catch my breath let alone think about how long my journey’s been now. Seven. Whole. Years. And counting… Hard to believe it. Choir hopefuls may audition between ages 25-55. They can stay a member for 20 years or until they turn 60, whichever comes first and then they must retire [there’s a big send-off event each April with lots of tears!]. When I joined I thought “how could I ever possibly do this for 20 years?! How does anyone want do it that long?!” I figured maybe I would last about 5 years and then move on. But, now I understand the secret. Every day is a treasure. As exhausting and demanding as it is to do this musical service, it’s also an amazing privilege. There are unique joys, musical highs, and so many sacred memories.

I love being a member of the Choir!

The music & performing is glorious of course. But, the best part? For me, it’s the friends I have made. These people are amazing. They have become a part of my family and I’ve made some of my closest ‘BFF’s’. Priceless.

I get to sing with real live angels every week. They make me want to be a better person. Each one of them have so many life challenges – oh my goodness – you just wouldn’t believe how much suffering with all the different trials of life you could imagine – and yet they come faithfully to every rehearsal and every performance with genuine smiles on their faces filled with love in their hearts and faith in God. We sing from our hearts to heal others, and we also sing to heal ourselves. We sing to bring hope and peace to a hurting world.

Singing with some of my angel friends!

Singing with some of my angel friends!

Is this easy? No. Is it always fun? Nope. Is it hard and exhausting? A lot. But, how tragic it would have been if I had missed this opportunity in my life! I just had no idea. I left a nice little fast-paced highway, and in return, I received a bumpy, narrow little trail which I discovered is so much sweeter and definitely more scenic [yep, the ‘view’ is amazing!]. I’m glad that God had a different direction in mind, and He helped me find the way to walk this way, despite of myself.

My musical talent, my love of singing, my years of studying, training and performing were all just a gift on loan from Him so that I could use it for Him.

To all who feel the audition “calling” to their heart like I did, I wholeheartedly say: “Yes! Don’t hesitate! Go for it!”

Face your fear. Challenge your doubts. Hush your pride. Put your best foot forward and trust in God to lead you through it and, if it’s His will, to it. You have nothing to lose. No matter the outcome, your personal journey will be affirming, and potentially life changing. – MoSop

_____________

Get your audition packet HERE between July 1 – August 15th, 2014. May the force be with you!

Want more MoTab? Watch HERE, Sing Along HERE, or Read HERE

8 thoughts on “The Musical Detour That Changed My Life

  1. Dear Holly, You have no idea how much more I enjoy watching and listening to the MoTab Choir since I started reading your blogs. I feel like I have a friend in the choir, even though I’ve never met you. I’ve had a health problem for a while now that has prevented me from going to church on Sunday morning, and I always watch the choir on BYUTV on my computer. It comes on here in Louisville, KY at 11:30am. That has become my worship time. I always look for you in the choir. For me, you have given the choir a personal face that I can relate to. When your daughter first had her health problem and you blogged about it, I always looked to see if you were there on Sun. morning. And, you always were. You, my dear, are the perfect example of what keeping a commitment to God means. I’m so glad that you’re in the choir. I would still watch them, but it is just so much sweeter with you in it.

    Lynne

  2. Wow Holly- How I loved this. It is so true that when we are in the service of our God there is Joy and peace and comfort everywhere. How well I remember your resistance to the Choir whenever I brought it up, How well I remember the shock of the newspaper article and calling you and you answered with not a hello but “I guess you saw it mother”. Well YES! I am screaming and cheering on the other end. Thank you for sharing your great musical gift with the world in the choir. You sang constantly from the time you were three and you drove your uncle Dallis crazy saying “does she have to sing about everything?” Even when you were little your face was a glow when you sang. If anyone gets a look at your face when you are singing in the choir they will see that wonderful glow still there.as bright as ever! We Love you, Mom and Dad

    • Considering that you called before 6 am I knew that meant either you’d seen the newspaper, or someone had died. I went with the more positive of the two options. ;) I couldn’t have done it without you. Thanks for bringing me into the world, for all the music lessons, attending every musical event, “enjoying” all of my impromptu performances, and being my support team. I love you too.

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