Stuck At The Kiddie Table

It happened a few weeks ago. I was sitting in my usual seat, listening to the instructions that were being given. Wondering why we were going over this….AGAIN. I wasn’t sure if my patience would endure much longer. My annoyance had been growing over the past few months, but I kept shrugging it off and replaced it with indifference. This time, it was a bit too palpable. This isn’t what I wanted. What I wanted was to get up and leave.

It’s a little known fact that I like to sing. You might even say, I love to sing. My singing portfolio includes four choirs, three praise teams, and, I hate to admit, a high school R&B group. So when I moved to Pittsburgh, it was imperative that I join a choir. I chose to join the all-male gospel choir at my church. There were other choirs I could have joined, but something about the image of a group of black men devoting their time to singing for the Lord drew me to this choir. They welcomed me as one of their own as soon as I attended the first rehearsal. We sang at other churches, nursing homes, community centers, all over. It felt good.

The issue was that I wasn’t used to the demographic and song selection of the choir. The choir is full of older men. Almost all of the guys are AT LEAST 20 years my senior. A lot of them spent their entire lives in Pittsburgh. It’s been really hard for me to connect with most of them. We make jokes during rehearsal and exchange small talk, but nothing past that. And as “my shit don’t stink” as this is gonna sound, I can’t deal with the quality of the singing anymore. Some of the guys have an ear for music and can sing pretty good. But the rest are just awful. Tone deaf. Screaming notes. Can’t follow the tempo. The quality and breadth of songs we can sing is handcuffed by this too. And it’s sooooooo frustrating when my entire section gets pointed out for being wrong when it’s the same people who can’t get the notes right (see: not me). I just feel like I’m at the wrong table. I’m with the kids.

I praise God through song. That’s my gift. I can praise Him in other ways, but nothing makes me feel closer to Him than when I praise Him through song. But I can’t focus on God when all I hear is you singing in the wrong key. I know that church people try to say that it doesn’t matter what you sound like when you’re singing for God, but it DOES when it’s your ministry! As a choir it’s our job to bring others into worship. We can’t do that effectively if our sound is not on point.

I’ve considered joining our church’s Praise Team, who sound PHENOMENALLY better than the Male Choir and are more my pace. However, even though I would be fine with quitting the choir today, I made a commitment to sing with them in August. I don’t like going back on my word, so if you see me tweeting about them, you’ll know why. But after that, I’ll be ready to leave the kiddie table and hopefully find myself looking forward to choir rehearsals again.



6 thoughts on “Stuck At The Kiddie Table

  1. This was so well-written. Love the metaphor of the kiddie table (their mediocre quality) coupled with their advanced age. I like the nice (im)balance of the two.

    So glad you found the Praise Team to give you inspiration to sing. And I respect you not dropping out on your word. But, as you know, after that it’s time to move on. You can’t let your passion suffer by being in an environment that isn’t really feeding said passion.

    Excited for your new relationship with the Praise Team!

    • “Love the metaphor of the kiddie table (their mediocre quality) coupled with their advanced age.”

      Although the contradiction wasn’t planned ahead of time, I was like “yeah B, that’s real deep.”

      Not being able to ignore the fact that my happiness was suffering is what really pushed me to come to this choice. It sucks cause the guys are great people, but it’s just not working for me.

  2. You sound just like my pastor!! I mean word for word. Unfortunately he doesn’t have the numbers to gently push away the ‘non-professionals’.. which is why I offered to quit.

    I can sing pretty well (if I practice) and like you I feel closer to God when I do. But I can feel that closeness when Im singing off key in the audience. I just have another calling..which is why I has to let choir practice go..unfortunately Im one of three sopranos and I project really well I’m needed. I made a commitment to keep singing tho until we get new members. I do love singing tho.

    It’s such a blessing that you have that are right to honor it by moving on to a choir that will let your gift shine like its intended to do. 🙂

  3. I give you props for coming to that conclusion. Unlike you, I have been hiding my gift behind me feeling like I am inadequate because I go to a very large and somewhat prominent church in MD. So, I haven’t been using my gift to glorify God (unless its in the car or shower) but hopefully one day I’ll muster up the courage to sing on a choir at church.

  4. #1 I was literally at the kids’ table on Thanksgiving until I turned 21. (My 21st birthday was on Thanksgiving) The funny thing is, that was also my brother’ s first Thanksgiving at the adult table. He was 35.

    #2 After you graduate college, it seems like there’s hardly any groups for people between 21-40. And for church, it’s pretty much nothing between age 14-60. I really think churches need to work on reaching out to young people. And that Young Professional groups need to stop having so many club-centirc events

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