In "An Incomplete Education -- What Should I Know About and Why Should I Know It" I talked about the way an avocational-singer, mother-at-home-type such as myself could get sidetracked and waste time when everything musical seems interesting and acquiring knowledge in a general way was so enjoyable. But I wondered if I couldn't be smarter about the acquisition of knowledge and specify it to better fit in with some of the goals for my musical life.
Then, after choosing a course in early music last summer -- which I enjoyed thoroughly -- I questioned whether I had spent time and money well enough based on my own goals and needs as an avocational singer. In the post "Ornamenting Handel and Bach, Rameau, Mozart and Monteverdi, Me?" I expressed fear that the way I spent time and money on continuing music education had not been well chosen. However, in the follow up post, "How Ornamentation Has Changed Me as a Musician" I conclude that, while perhaps this wasn't the most appropriate place for me to start furthering my musical education, something of value to my goals as a singer did come out of it anyway.
Well, this year, I have some time to explore another class over at Westminster Choir College and I think I've got it right this time -- I think I have chosen something that will grow me in just the way I need to grow next. I have signed up for the Westminster Choral Festival. The festival is a week-long program that, this year, will focus on the study and preparation of Mozart's Requiem. The brochure says this:
Festival participants enjoy a rigorous schedule that includes classes on pedagogy and performance practice, conducting master classes, round-table discussions with conducting faculty, observation of Westminster Chamber Choir rehearsals followed by question and answer sessions, and culminates in a performance of the major choral-orchestral work at Richardson Auditorium on the campus of Princeton University. It is an exciting opportunity for singers, conductors, and educators alike. No Audition Required.
Now that sounds just right! It has everything to stimulate my interest and enjoyment, and I believe it is enough of a challenge to help me become a better choral singer. I hate that my Cantigas Women's Choir breaks over the summer, and really miss singing with that group during summer, so this gives me a chance to continue singing somewhere. In addition, despite how much I love singing with treble voices, I have longed for the fuller experience of singing some SATB repertoire, something I have not done for many years. This festival provides for that musical longing and need. It also will be very exciting to sing with an orchestra.
I've been a little dumb about this, however. Last year, when I signed up for the Ornamentation Class, I wondered if there were any materials I might need. Too late I found out that people had selected and prepared solos to bring to the class. Everyone else seemed to know what to do, but the instructions had not been on the web site. I should have thought to call, but being inexperienced with this "going back to school" stuff, I fumbled around like someone with no clue.
So, remembering last year, I began to think about things a little earlier after having signed up for the festival. I wonder if they will provide the score? I wonder if I should purchase a score and learn this ahead of time? I wonder if there is stuff I should know, like last year, that I ought to call about.
Well -- remembering that -- this year I called a little later than probably the other participants did, but at least I was better than last year. I found out that I had to purchase the score for the Mozart's Requiem from the bookstore and that I had to come to the festival with all the music learned.
I also found out I needed a floor-length black skirt and white blouse for the performance at the end of the week.
I never foresaw the strange awkwardness that stepping back into something like going to school was going to bring, as I spent these past years raising my children and staying mainly in my home as my primary place of work. I had always planned to do something when the kids got older, but in my mind I slipped back to school or into the workplace simply and smoothly. It never occurred to me that it was going to be a little rough to transition to doing other things again. Even though I've seen it on television and read articles about it, the reality of it doesn't sink in until it starts to happen.
When we are young, we are not supposed to know too much or have too much experience, and many older/wiser people step in to mentor talented young people and help them along. Not always, but I remember people just reaching out to me when I was younger.
It seems that now that I am an adult, I am more on my own. I am expected to know things and think of things. Maybe other people are actually NOT expecting this of me, but I think they are and put this burden on myself. So, I think I appear foolish to not know.
So, stepping out to do these things after the years of being in the home is quite an experience and takes a small amount of courage. The courage to be seen as someone who doesn't understand or get it. The courage to allow people to see awkwardness and hesitancy. The courage to ask questions and be a newcomer.
The funny thing is, that the years just flew by -- the years of my children's childhoods -- and it didn't seem like that much time was passing. It seems like only yesterday I was that young student trying to find the classrooms on my first day of college.
So, I am very excited -- and a bit nervous and awkward and fearful as well -- about having the experience of this choral festival this summer. I know I will be updating my blog with posts about this experience. In Frescamari's Practice Room, there will probably be files of me practicing Mozart showing up.
I hope you will join along as I proceed on my summer journey.