I had long cherished the desire,
To join a large, prestigious choir.
When first I heard the Graduates sing,
Immediately I knew this was the thing:
To sing the works of trad and anon,
To tambourine, fife and gong.
To perform with an orchestra in great masses,
Tenors and basses, surrounded by lasses,
Altogether, a hundred voices or more,
Intent on the conductor, or head in the score.

I never sang in a church choir, as many do,
And rarely sang hymns from a hard wooden pew.
So I came to the choir as a musical ignoramus,
To learn from a conductor with a Masters and a B.Mus.
He didn’t like our Australian vowels:
A, e, i, o, u, brought forth frowns and scowls.
“Italian vowels is what you must sing,
By pursing the lips into a ring.”
This he repeated almost week by week,
A fine sound, relentlessly did he seek.

As week by week and month by month went by,
I heard the same old plea, with a sigh.
“Yes sir”, is what I thought,
“I hear what you say, I well understand, and what I’m doing is OK.
The point you’re making, I very clearly see,
You don’t need to keep on telling me.
But to these other folk, it is not so plain,
For them, you must repeat it, again and again.
So I will be patient and not complain,
A studious countenance I will feign.”

To help us all to sing in one accord,
We’re supplied with a magnetic sound record,
With piano playing rhythm and tune,
We can practise at home, so improvement comes soon.
Once when practising with the tape recorder,
I pressed the keys in the wrong order.
Instead of rewind, it began to record,
Sounds harmonious or in discord.
Just as the recording was about to begin, 
Spontaneously I began to sing.

When again I played the recorded tape,
In astonishment my mouth did gape.
My spontaneous singing had been recorded,
An unbiased mirror, it surely afforded.
The beautiful vowels I had in my mind,
Despite all my effort, none could I find.
A, e, i, o, u, (in broad Australian) is what I heard,
Woven into every Latin word,
Giving praise to our good Lord.
Good Lord! The word is mightier than the sword.

But now I must confess, oh, my embarrassment,
My immediate thoughts, just what it meant:
“Oh, forgive me Music Director, I was so blind,
I knew not the foibles of my voice or my mind,
Forgive us for we know not what we do,
No matter what you say, we do not hear like you.
And so with patience, you must persevere,
With tolerance, good humour and good cheer,
We love you, with respect and sometimes fear,
As our Music Director, our musical seer.”

Elvis Kipman.

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