Saturday, October 30, 2010

A New Era for Singing

Well, it's time for me to come over and start paying attention to my poor little Avocational Singer blog.  Things have been so hopping over on the Barefoot Fresca blog that I've gotten a little sidetracked over there, but I can never forget my little labor of love over here where my first passion lies.

Where to start -- where to start -- where to start?!?  There is just so much going on.  Some of the events over the summer and some of the thoughtful decisions I've made have catapulted me into a new era of my singing life.

Let's try to break it down:

------------------------------------Choir Number I-------------------------------------------
I am still singing with my beloved all-women's community choir.  I was an inaugural member of this choir and the women there are like family to me.  Just like in a family, when one member wants to branch out and grow and explore, the family member still wants to keep grounded with her sisters.  So, I am kind of killing myself trying to sing in two choirs.

The interesting thing is that our choir director is on an exciting sabbatical overseas and we have an interim director who is raising the bar as far as our reading and the amount of material and the pace at which we need to learn it.  This is kind of exciting, and since I'm being challenged in Choir Number II on this level it is fun to try to keep pace and apply new and developing skills.

--------------------------------------Choir Number II-----------------------------------------------
This has been so great for me.  The choir director had told me, when I auditioned, that I would fall in about the middle of this choir as far as my level of mastery and technical ability and she was exactly right.  I feel invigorated by the people around me -- the ones with more highly developed voices, technical mastery, and musicianship -- but also feel like I'm making a positive contribution to my section, and that my own skills and sound weigh in more on the plus side than the minus side.  In other words, I don't think I'm a problem in the choir. (phew!)  That fares me well in the "choir self-esteem" department.

One thing I love about the new choir is that the director is herself a masterful singer and knows about voice.  She guides with really healthy principles. In addition, her knowledge and approach is close to what I am getting in my new voice lessons so one reinforces the other and I am making good progress.  Sometimes what a singer has to do in choir can undermine what she is working for in lessons, so it feels really good for everything to be lined up just right.  How'd I get so lucky?

Another thing I love about the new choir is that there is a focus on precision with breathing and consonants in the music.  I had never heard of assigning an exact time value to a consonant before I read it this past summer in the Robert Shaw Reader and now I am in a choir where I have to apply that concept.  You know how when you learn a new word, all of a sudden you start hearing it all over the place?  Well, that's what this was like.

Some people don't need things broken down to that extent (or maybe they do -- who knows?), but I am benefiting greatly from breaking it all down.

--------------------------------------Voice Lessons----------------------------------------------------
I've only had a couple, but I would definitely say my new lessons with my new teacher are going very well.  I definitely feel that I am in the right place for me vocally at this point in time.  The teacher is extremely knowledgeable and I am enjoying the time spent in lessons immensely and I am also enjoying some of the good things that are happening vocally towards mastery.

All in all, exciting things are happening -- if -- if I can keep up the pace.  The new schedule requires me to be on top of more things:  reading e-mails from two different choir directors and two different board directors, supporting the fund raising for two different choirs, helping concerts to be successful by promoting them for two different choirs, managing a new protocol for setting up and getting to voice lessons, learning two sets of music and trying to remember which folder to bring to which rehearsal.

It seems like, with two choirs, the week comes around again so fast and I hadn't got a chance to work on my music.  Or I've only had a chance to look at one or two key pieces.

I believe that during this time of transition I'll be all mixed up for a little while, but will eventually get it all organized and in place.  There is a learning curve when new things are introduced into a schedule and I believe I can learn to manage what I've got.  I will try it out for this year and see what happens.  It's a lot of fun and it really keeps me on my toes.

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