Can I go to a sing-along concert of the Messiah and not sing along?
November 23, 2012 2:23 AM   Subscribe

Can I go to a sing-along concert of Handel's Messiah and not sing along?

I have loved the Messiah as a piece of music for a really long time, but I'm not a singer. There are often opportunities around Christmas to go hear the Messiah, and some of those concerts are billed as sing-along. I really like the idea of sitting in a concert hall full of people singing that piece of music, but I'm worried it would be awkward to go and then just sit in my seat and beam happily the whole time without ever opening my mouth. I know that the box office isn't going to reject my money or ask whem I'm ordering my ticket if I am an alto or a soprano, so my question is more about the proper etiquette. If you are a singer and go to performances like these to sing along, do you think it's strange if you see someone there not singing? Would it be rude to not sing?
posted by colfax to Society & Culture (14 answers total)
As a singer, someone choosing not to sing is fine with me. It is not rude to refrain from singing.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:31 AM on November 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yes. (you can go it's fine)
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 2:40 AM on November 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

I cannot sing to save my life. (I'd like to claim inherited tonedeafness, but sadly I think I'm just bad at it.)

When I've been at sing-alongs, I've often ended up kind of "nominally" singing and just making sure the people next to me are thoroughly drowning me out.
posted by katrielalex at 2:46 AM on November 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

At my high school it is traditional for the recent graduates to come back and go to the christmas concert. It is also traditional for past graduates to go up and sing the Messiah with the chorus at the end and it is huge and very loud. I went up and "sang" which scared the choral conductor because I have no singing experience. In reality I knew the words enough to mouth along with everyone and just listened to the song from in the middle of the chorus. No one cared, but if too many people did it it wouldn't work well. If yours is just a singalong in a big group again I would just go along and mouth the words, but if everyone does that it wouldn't be that good.
posted by koolkat at 3:24 AM on November 23, 2012

A theater company I've worked with does an "act-along" thing every Christmas (think karaoke meets "It's A Wonderful Life"), and we also welcome the people who don't want to join in, but just want to sit and watch, with open arms as well. The point is to get people there and having fun, and if "having fun" for you is just sitting and listening, I see no reason why anyone should turn up their nose at you.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:14 AM on November 23, 2012

If my experience going to these is any indication, the people around you will be far too busy following the score themselves to scrutinize your singing or non-singing. Be graceful about accepting sheet music if it's offered and sitting with your singing part, and you'll be fine. Plus, if you know the Messiah really well, who knows whether the spirit might move you to join in on a line or two?
posted by Bardolph at 4:15 AM on November 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have done this, to absolutely zero disapproving looks. Go enjoy.
posted by kmennie at 4:22 AM on November 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

Many years ago I went to one in a church where the main level of the sanctuary was reserved for singers and the balcony was available for friends/family/whoever wanted to just enjoy the experience.
posted by jamincan at 4:25 AM on November 23, 2012

If I'm in town, I do the Kennedy Center sing-a-long, and there's a generous sprinkling of people who are there to provide an appreciative audience for their friends and family.
posted by evoque at 6:35 AM on November 23, 2012

Same as jamincan, I go to one of these every year at a church (and sing, though not so well) and there is a small balcony for observers.
posted by kirst27 at 9:52 AM on November 23, 2012

I sing and I wouldn't be even slightly worried about it as long as you looked like you were enjoying yourself.

However, do be aware that these events vary substantially in quality so if you are offended by horrible noises or don't want to hear your favourite music massacred then they might not be for you.
posted by kadia_a at 9:56 AM on November 23, 2012

Yes, it is fine to do this.

And yes, being surrounded by the sound is a wonderful experience. But choose wisely! If there is a singalong being hosted in a smaller space, choose that! You'll hear a much better blend of voices. If you're stuck in the middle of 40 sopranos in a really huge space, that's all you'll hear.
posted by jph at 10:10 AM on November 23, 2012

Thanks very much for the answers!
posted by colfax at 2:01 AM on November 24, 2012

posted by msittig at 4:21 AM on November 24, 2012

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