QUOTE(Swell Box @ Jan 22 2012, 07:40 PM)
StradiVarious, I will tell you a true story about the ladies who wear choir robes our own parish church.
About six or seven years ago, Swellbox Junior and I were roped in with several others to help out in the choir at a Civic Carol Service. We were even granted the rare honour of being allowed to wear their choir robes!
During the first choir practice it was decided that SBJ should sing the first verse of 'Once in Royal David's City' unaccompanied, and this was duly rehearsed. Everything was going well, so the next week SBJ was asked whether he would sing the first verse of 'In the Bleak Mid Winter', whilst I was invited to sing the third verse in the Tenor register.
The Organist at said church may be a good Jazz musician, but he simply cannot follow a score to save his life. His accompaniment (and especially his use of root chords) was frankly more of a distraction than a help, so I asked if we could sing unaccompanied (except for a quiet organ accompaniment between verses) until the fourth verse when the full choir and organ would come in.
'You can't do that, you'll ruin it' hissed one of the septuagenarian choir ladies. 'Why?' I asked. 'Because you'll finish flat, and it will sound terrible for the rest of us' I was told.
I asked if we could at least try, and each of the three soloists demonstrated that it was perfectly possible to stay in pitch until the end of a verse, but it was made clear by the senior choir lady that this was verboten.
I am not a great fan of church services with Mayoral chains and suchlike, but the service itself went well enough, and everybody seemed happy over mulled wine and mince pies afterwards. We have offered to help out at Christmas services since, but have always been told that we are not required. Apparently, one of the other volunteers was told that the choir ladies didn't think it was right to allow 'non-regulars' into the choir for occasional services as 'there is no guarantee that they can sing in tune with the rest of us'.
Given that most of the choir rely on electronic hearing aids to hear themselves sing I think you can see where they are coming from.
I'm sorry you've had such bad experiences with churches. This occasion must must have been very frustrating for you and I understand your annoyance, but, to be a bit of a Devil's Advocate:
Imagine you are an elderly lady, with a hearing aid, who sings loyally and to the best of your ability Sunday by Sunday. However for a special Carol Service extra people are invited, including a mother and son who are also asked to sing the three solos. They sing a verse each of "In the bleak midwinter" but decide they don't want the organist, who is also doing his best, to play.
Now, although I know you will have taken great care not to let any of the choir members feel their noses put out of joint, perhaps they picked up your opinion of their singing and the fact that you felt they were too old and too deaf. It may even be that they felt that the outsiders were taking over - whose job should it to decide which pieces would be unaccompanied, for example. They may have been upset by the insult to their organist if they felt any loyalty to him (I would have been). They would probably have guessed your opinion of him however diplomatically you put it. Did you not know what his playing was like before you agreed to sing? Personally, in an amateur situation I would just have sung the thing and let him cope as best he could.
So, although I sympathize with your frustration, I can also see how the choir members and organist might prefer to muddle on on their own in the future.