Friday, December 25, 2009
All I Need to Celebrate My Holiday -- Christmas!
The very first thing I need, is my spirituality. I don't think that I could celebrate a holiday from the outside in. I need to have a reason that starts deep within me. I reflect on who and what I think God is, and what my relationship to God is, and what, if anything, I should do about that in my life. Reflection, silence, meditation, prayer, and keying in on why I'm here, what I believe, and what is important to me must be the starting place. From these reflections comes a set of principles I want to live by, my personal code, and I remind myself of them, revise them if need be, and I renew my commitment to sticking to these principles
The next thing I need is connection to my family and friends and all of humanity. A holiday will not make much sense to me if it is celebrated in isolation. I need to spend time thinking about the people I love, why I love them, and why I want to keep on loving them. I need to spend some time making sure these others that surround me know I love them in various ways.
After these first two big holiday needs, then I can get to the "trappings." For me, the trappings are very simple. I need a great big Christmas tree, and I need music. Especially, I must sing the holidays, which I think I have done in Frescamari's Practice Room as my own holiday of Christmas has approached. The most happy I can be as an avocational singer is when I have an opportunity to sing solo on Christmas Eve.
Last night, at midnight mass, I had my music. The church does a little extra, and hires some musicians, and the organist lines up a few soloists. It felt joyful to be part of the festivities at our church last night singing a solo part in an arrangement of "O Holy Night" our organist had made for two of us singers from the parish.
I had meant to bring my digital tape recorder and get a recording of the arrangement of "O Holy Night" that I sang with another female singer from the church. However, coming right from a great big Italian Christmas Eve feast at my husband's cousin's house, the idea of recording kind of got lost in the merriment.
I drank a lot of coffee to keep myself awake until about 12:30 a.m., when our "O Holy Night" was sung during the communion time.
They say never to try a new recipe when you are having company -- to stick with the tried and true -- however, I have been reading a book about head voice (Head First: The Language of the Head Voice: A Concise Study of Larning to Sing in the Head Voice by Denes Striny), and I felt very strongly that from this moment forward, I must not put pressure on my cords anymore. (See post "Warming up with O Holy Night -- going for less constriction" in Frescamari's Practice Room.)
So, I used all the congregational hymn singing and other mass parts to "warm up" by singing without a feeling of constriction. The hired musical instruments were loud, with a blaring trumpet, and there were other "loud" singers in the choir singing in my ear, and the temptation to press and feel my own voice and to feel powerful in some way was great. But I focused very intensely on a non-constricted and free production, even though I could not hear myself except on a couple of high notes.
When the time came to sing the solo, I wanted the crutch of feeling like I was doing something -- something like muscling the sound, but I allowed it to remain free and unrestricted. The voice kind of did what it wanted to, and I had to trust, rather than control.
I probably shouldn't have taken a chance like that, but people were very pleased with the solo, so it worked, although there were many little things I'm dying to take into the practice room to learn how to manage them while singing this way. I'll be able to use my 24 Italian Songs in 24 Weeks project to accomplish this task. In fact, I've already started using this week's song, "O cessate di piagarmi", for this purpose.
Performing is different than practicing. There are different body dynamics to work out. I do not get a lot of chances to perform, and I think I should seek them out because the only way to work out all the issues is to face them over and over again. The more the better. My Kung Fu sifu tells us all the time, "Repetition is the Mother of All Skills."
I think this holiday worked the way it's supposed to in my life. I have ended a cycle of work and striving, and will begin anew now, with more concepts to conquer and explore. I hope you will keep with me in the practice room and this blog as I find out what's next! Merry Christmas to you all and Happy New Year!