If you could press a button and redo one thing in your musical career, what would you change before hitting Play?
leader, Diaspora Yeshiva Band
I wouldn’t change anything. Not because everything was perfect, but because the little imperfections imbue the song with feeling— they tell you that perhaps the heart was involved in this music, not just the brain, the voice, and the fingers. There have always been those who approach music with a fine-tooth comb and a microscope and find imperfections, but to me that’s not music. Music is the joy, the experience of performing it. If I listen to myself recorded live and hear something a little off, I say to myself, “Wow, I was having a good time that night.”
I would change the way I used my voice, because I have regrets about how I sang when I was a bochur in Eretz Yisrael. Together with friends, I’d spend hours upon hours singing non-stop, like through the night at the Kosel on Leil Shishi. I ended up hoarse, but I’d still sing on, pushing myself. I hope I didn’t do permanent damage.
Around three summers ago, I lost my voice due to a polyp on my vocal cords, as a result of chronic strain. At that point, I had to rethink. I realized that singing publicly on Shabbos was hard because there was no mic, plus the fact that I was overusing my vocal cords that hadn’t recuperated from the week. Nowadays I protect my voice. I don’t sing at all without a mic, so I don’t accept Shabbos jobs. Since I made that decision, things have been a lot smoother.
RABBI NACHMAN SELTZER
author, choir director
I was in the Miami Boys Choir in 1990. When Yerachmiel taught us “Omdos Hayu Ragleinu,” the melody for the end of the song, “ke’ir shechubrah lah yachdav” was supposed to go down low. When I learned it though, I constantly made the mistake of going up at the end. Eventually, though, Yerachmiel decided he liked my mistake and changed his mind. We finished the song by going up.
chazzan, arranger, vocalist
If I could, I would change my attitude to learning an instrument. I had incredible piano teachers when I was younger, but I didn’t invest wholeheartedly in practicing, because I was a successful performer on stage with Miami Boys Choir, so practicing piano didn’t seem so important. Today I regret this — I’d like to be a better master of the instrument.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 892)
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