Personal stories of growth at Eckerd College

"A Change of Tune"
Carolyn Horton Hall ('64)

I always loved music and being in choirs. My father was a Minister of Music and my mother was the alto soloist in our church. Everyone said I sounded just like my mom; so to be like her, as I began singing in church choirs, I sang alto. Besides, I could read music; most of the sopranos couldn't. And besides, most of the sopranos were prima donnas, which I most certainly wasn't.

When we entered Florida Presbyterian College in August of 1960, one of the initial activities was the organization of the first college choir. Almost everyone, including me, showed up for auditions; we were all so enthused about the school and wanted to be a part of everything that was happening. Much to my dismay, the director (Guy O. Baker) told me in no uncertain terms that I was a soprano. How could that be, I lamented? Sopranos screech and don't blend; sopranos sing only the boring melody; sopranos can't read music. My whole world was seriously turned upside down. If I wanted to be in the choir, I had to sing soprano. I literally had to re-define myself.

So that's what I did. Because I was in the FPC choir, I have continued to be in choirs. Because I was in the FPC choir, I learned some wonderful music, and that began for me an exposure to some extraordinary music in some awesome venues with some outstanding choral groups. Because I have been in choirs, I have met some of my closest friends. Because I have been in choirs, I have grown spiritually. And, as a soprano, I had the joy of singing duets with my mom.

The upheaval of that first week at FPC has become a metaphor for what my college experience has meant to me. Old assumptions were turned upside down and replaced by an openness to continue to learn and question that has stayed with me throughout my life. The narrowness and naiveté I had as an entering freshman have been replaced by inclusivity and complexity. New material excites me; searching for answers challenges me. Self-identity is a continuing journey, and spiritual fulfillment an on-going quest.

That would not be so if I'd stayed an alto.