Friday, August 14, 2009

Out of Practice

Before HW and I got married, I had voice lessons on a regular basis. Unfortunately, once we got busier, the lessons were the first to go. At this point in my life, I don't get to really work on new pieces very much. Sure, I practice the music that I need to sing for Sunday liturgies but something I can truly sink my teeth into usually falls by the wayside. Between the husband, children (and their activities) and housework, there is little time left in the day for me. You can imagine my excitement when I finally arranged a private voice lesson with my "former" teacher. So, the other day I had my first lesson in almost a year. Holy Cow! She made me work! Honestly, it felt good too. While a couple of the vocal exercises were tricky, I got the handle of them. However, that's not what bothers me. What concerns me is the piece of music she's given me to learn. Talk about giving me a challenge! It's a piece by Mendelssohn and it is HARD.

Do I dare say I'm up for the challenge? I don't know. It scares me a little, but I have to try it. I think finding the time to work on it and learn it will be tough. However, I think it's time to put my money where my mouth is. I always say how much I want to learn more, be challenged and grow as a musician. I don't want to rest on my laurels, become stagnant and rusty. It's time to make the time and get to work.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

What will he do next?

As you may remember, I sing at church. Well, three churches to be exact. In those churches, I work with different music directors who have varying abilities and personalities. For the most part, I enjoy doing what I do. It can be lots of fun and hard work (yes, singing is work--you use many different muscles!). Anyway, today was one of those fun days.

One of my favorite directors is RL. He is incredibly talented, has a type A personality, even-tempered and has a great sense of humor. I often wonder what he's doing in a rinky dink little church on Long Island and not in Manhattan playing at St. Patrick's Cathedral. However, the cathedral's loss is my gain. This man challenges me to become a better musician. During mass, he will modulate keys, add interludes between verses of songs (when none are written), play a different harmonization (such as English ones), go off on musical tangents all while expecting me to go along with him. Some singers might find this stressful, but I don't. He and I both feel it makes things more interesting. Playing a hymn over and over can become tedious and boring. My job is to encourage the congregation to sing along with me. If I let his creativity stress me out, the people won't feel comfortable and won't sing along. They should feel as if singing with me is like taking a walk in the park. Something that is an easy, enjoyable activity. Not to blow my own horn, but I know RL doesn't do this kind of thing to the other singers. He has told me so. It makes me feel good, really proud of the musicianship I've achieved, yet I find myself wondering what will he do next. It's good, it keeps me on my toes.