Monday, August 23, 2010

Classical Vocal Repertoire and a Book of Glinka Songs

I interrupt my regular blog posting to bring you a spontaneous post.  I know I just wrote a post about parental musical influences and I do hope you all get to read and enjoy that post, but I am just feeling so good about a music book that arrived in the mail today and I wanted to share the experience with you.

Remember a few posts ago, when I told you that the organist from my church, who is Russian, wanted to do a recital with me?  Well, in that post, I mentioned that he loved the Russian composer Mikhail Glinka, and he encouraged me to explore this composer.  He said he would help me with the Russian language.

Well, why not?

Well, here's why not.  Isn't singing in Russian kind of advanced?  Isn't singing in Russian something you do after you've established your international opera career and have a recital schedule around the world and a recording contract?  Isn't singing in Russian something you do for your thesis project in graduate music school?  Does a little struggling avocational singer such as myself ever sing in Russian?

To make a long story short,  I figured Russian was way off my radar, considering the fact that I don't know any other languages except Spanish yet, and I just figured that it would be years and years and years before I got to Russian, and being that I'm older and all, I just figured maybe Russian might be for another lifetime or something.  That's the way I perceived it, at any rate.  We all know how faulty our perceptions can be, however.  But, in a similar way as to how we have to give our voices freedom, and not constrict them or try to mold and shape them to what we want them to be, we also have to give our repertoire development and education freedom to develop and grow the way it wants to.  If a pianist comes into my life who would like to collaborate on some music and can school me on Russian stuff, I'm not going to say I'm not ready for that.  It's an opportunity and it's the way the larger musical forces of the universe are kind of guiding me to a new area of exploration, enrichment and study.

So, I set about to get my hands on some Glinka music.  I didn't have great luck finding a collection of Glinka songs from my usual Internet sources, so getting some was either going to involve getting myself to a good music store or library -- like the Juilliard store or the New York Public Library for Performing Arts -- or, as I wrote about in that same blog post -- challenge myself by doing something I'd wanted to do for a long time -- calling Glendower Jones, owner of Classical Vocal Repertoire.

I have to admit that I have a fear of calling people on the telephone.  They even have a psychological term for people afraid to make phone calls -- "Call Reluctance." It's usually connected with a career in sales, but it revolves around being afraid of self-promotion.  I've written on this blog before about how I didn't continue to pursue a career in theater because of this distaste for self-promotion.  One time I even bought a book to try to help me get over my fear, back when I had a little scrapbooking hobby business.  I can't find the book I had back then but it was something along the lines of  I'd Rather Have a Root Canal Than do Cold Calling!

Anyway, you'd think that if you were not a professional singer, you would not have to do any cold calling or self-promotion, and that one of the perks of being an Avocational Singer is that you'd have an easy life, right?


Avocational Singers have to do scary icky things too if they want to grow and be all that they can be.

So, after exhausting many possibilities, it seemed that the musical forces that be were setting me up to make that scary phone call to Glendower Jones.  Now, people who have phone fear are afraid of rejection.  It doesn't matter what kind of rejection.  Just rejection in general.  Rationality does not come into play.  If it did, it would not be scary, because our intellect would tell us that the worse thing that could happen when we call the music book store would be "No, I'm sorry, we don't have any Glinka."

Actually, no, for the person with these kind of fears, the worst thing that could happen would be for them to say, "NO!  We don't have any Glinka, and never never never bother me again!!!" in a really mean scary voice.

Okay, well, back to the task.  So, my task, if I really wanted to proceed on, was to make this phone call.

And I bet you all know what happened.  Glendower Jones was one of the kindest and most wonderful of professional people to call on the phone.  He was extremely knowledgeable and helpful, just as I'd heard from all kinds of singers that he was.

He had a complete volume of Glinka songs, of course, and he took the order and sent it.

Now the real treat is that the book came today and it was a beautiful volume, one that any singer would want to have in his/her collection.  Here's a picture:

The hardcover book felt soft and smooth to the touch.  It came protected by a sturdy cardboard enclosure, and the invoice was printed on a cream-colored paper that was heavy and smooth.

Since our phone conversation had gone so well, I was brave enough to mention an Argentinian composer, whose songs I had searched for and been unable to find.  Mr. Jones, as a response to that conversation, had enclosed with my order a sheet, on the same creamy paper, a list of available titles from that composer.

I ended up really liking doing business "the old fashioned way," without the impersonal filling in of Internet forms.

I was delighted by the entire experience, and feel that by pushing past my fear, I reaped a great benefit of now having a great source from which to purchase my music.

In the end, I've realized that having a passion for something forces me to grow.  When you really have an interest and you really love something, scary obstacles might delay you temporarily, but the desire to explore, find out and see eventually wins out overcomes the fear.  One gets to the point where in order to continue on, you have to face the scary monster and it is that desire to see it through that helps you take the growth step.


  1. Told ya, told ya - Glendower is a sweetie! :)

    Drool drool drool - that Glinka volume is indeed quite gorgeous.

    That call reluctance thing? I have it too, to a greater-than-average degree, and I have a friend who has it (at least we still manage to talk on the phone to each other :) There was a whole NFCS thread recently on the distaste for self-promotion thing, too - it was titled "Believing in yourself". So I guess it is a more common experience than I realized.

  2. He may be a lovely guy, but does he EVER answer the phone on a Friday? I've been calling from the UK for the last two hours, and really need some music that he stocks, but is impossible to get anywhere else. Umph.