For three afternoons a week, for an hour and a half (and two hours on Mondays), I forget about everything else going on in my life and walk into the Music Center, pull out my black folder, and start my vocal warmups.

I’ve sung in GC’s low voice choir, Vox Profundi, every year of my college career. Now, over my time at this school, I’ve been a part of a good number of clubs, groups and extracurriculars.

Don’t get me wrong: I love, love, love my work with The Record; I talk constantly about how much joy I get from being in the student section; I found a community and work that I’m passionate about in Prevention Intervention Network.

But nothing has been as beneficial for my mental well-being, and as fulfilling, as choir.

There’s something really, really special about joining voices with twenty-odd other people — my peers and friends. There’s a special connection that comes from singing with other people. It’s something that binds us together in a unique way; the community within the choir is really special to me, and I’ve made connections with fellow singers that I know will last after graduation.

Yes, it’s a fun group; yes, we mess around and have a good time; but just the act of singing has been incredibly therapeutic. There is no other activity I’ve done where I can genuinely let all my outside problems go, and just be in the moment in quite the same way.

And it’s more than just healing and friendships — choir has helped me get over one of my biggest fears.

A lot of people — even my family and my close friends — think I love crowds and public speaking. In some ways, I do; yes, I dressed up as a squirrel and ran around at GC sporting events for a solid year. And I absolutely do get satisfaction from making people smile.

But public speaking, much less performing, kind of terrifies me. I participated in the C. Henry Smith oratorical contest last year, and while I loved the process of it, my whole body was shaking before I presented.

That wasn’t something new to me. I try to act like Mr. Confident, but I start shaking badly in front of big groups, and I hate it. I’ve kept that hidden for a while, because I’ve been pretty embarrassed about it.

But I’ve never had that issue with choir, because I’m just one member of the big group. I love choir concerts; we make music for the community together, and I’m just a single bass — nobody’s going to hear just me!

Until last week.

I auditioned for a solo a little while back on a whim. When I saw I got it, I was excited for about a day — and then it hit me. I’d have to perform, alone, at a mic, in front of a crowd.

I was terrified. I think the rest of Vox could tell, too; my voice would quaver during rehearsal, and those dreaded shakes kept coming back. I genuinely didn’t know if I could get through it; I was on the verge of telling my director that he needed to find someone else. 

But as the concert grew closer and closer, I began to realize that there was nothing I could do except just give it my best shot.

Was I scared, when I stepped up to that mic on Saturday night? Absolutely. And was it the greatest solo ever? Absolutely not. And I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to listen to “Fix You” by Coldplay in the same way I used to.

But the feeling when the crowd burst into applause right after was one of the best things I’ve ever felt. And now I want to do it again, be that in a solo or in a speech.

That feeling is completely new… and I love it.

Daniel James, a senior history major and journalism minor from Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, is executive editor of The Record. “For the Record” is a weekly editorial.