“Elaina, we all know you have a great voice, but you need to sing a little quieter!”
The teacher stood in front of the choir, looking exasperated. The children around me giggled and my face flushed. I was in fifth grade, standing in the middle of my music class. Moments before I had been caught up in the joy of singing. Now I was being told that I had to stop, and I didn’t like it one bit.
This was before I took my first voice lesson, before I knew I would someday become a professional singer and move to Fort Wayne to join Heartland. But even after I started training, singing in choir bothered me for a long time. I felt like singing with a group erased my identity. I didn’t appreciate being told to sing pianissimo or senza vibrato. I didn’t want to disappear into a crowd of singers. I wanted to stand out!
But singing in a choir isn’t about me. It is about being a part of something greater than yourself. As I advanced through my musical education, singing with youth choirs and state choirs and church choirs and university choirs, I started to feel the power that comes with unity. The singers around me were no longer bored fifth-graders; they were talented, trained musicians. And the sound we produced together was massive, ethereal, magnificent. If my voice, a high soprano, is the sparkle on the surface of the ocean, the rest of the choir is the sheer volume that I could never produce on my own.
Singing with an ensemble cultivates humility and selflessness, two traits that we sopranos are not famous for. Putting away your interests for a few hours and becoming part of a chorus is good for everyone. Unlike my tempestuous elementary school-self, I no longer mind turning down my volume and adding my voice to an ensemble. Singing with choirs makes me not only a better artist; it makes me a better person.
- Elaina Robbins, Soprano Heartland Vocal Artist