I was in choirs and musicals throughout middle school, high school, and college. I actually auditioned for many of these things. I've sung classical Masses with organs and strings and brass quintets, a capella medieval madrigals, medleys from Broadway shows. Beethoven, Bach, Sondheim, Gilbert & Sullivan, Irving Berlin. All of it, without ever once having a "proper" voice lesson, or even without being able to read a single note of music.
My very favorite music teacher, Mr. Milisits, told me once that I lacked skill, but not talent, and that anyway, I had the most important thing of all: a real love of music. Of course, I think he said that to all his altos to keep us around, but perhaps he had a point. I can't read music, but I can hear it, and when I hear choirs singing, especially at Christmastime, I can hear the different voice parts, and I appreciate them.
Because, listen: it's hard work, being one of maybe a dozen girls trying to sing harmony over what seems like three hundred sopranos shrieking the melody with no earthly idea of the concept of volume control. Just like the rest of life, I suppose.
Mr. Milisits finally got around to retiring last year. They had a banquet for him in May or June, I forget which, but I didn't go. I hope it is not one of those things I end up forever regretting. I don't know if I ever told him, but he was one of the best teachers I had in high school. Kind of like a musical Mr. Grier -- he knew what we were capable of, even if we ourselves didn't, and he demanded nothing less that our best.