Listening for the Music
As I sit here looking out of my windows, watching for birds, I can hear my wind-chimes...a reminder of the wind and the wind chill on this early February day. If I listen closely I can hear sounds from various sets of chimes. There are the large tubular chimes that sound like vigorous Besses. Then there's the not so long chimes that seem to be more like robust altos. (That's for you, KZ.) I have a good size triangle shaped bell that reminds me of the tenors in the middle of United in Purpose - not much pitch variation, but strong. I have to listen more closely for my little chimes. (Sopranos) They have just as many tubes as the biggest chimes, but because of their smaller voicing, they can be overpowered. Sometimes a Blue Jay helps the little bells be heard more by landing on the shepherd's hook on which they're hanging.
All this is to say, let's listen for other voices, both around us and across the room. When needed, be the Blue Jay and make it possible for the sopranos to be heard. There are times they are in their weaker vocal range. Be aware of the voice which needs to be heard. (ex. basses in United in Purpose & Hold On.)
At home, we have a table in the corner where there are two sets of french doors. As I was sitting there eating some soup, I heard a persistent "meow." Whiskers was trying to get my attention. It worked.
Whiskers permanently adopted us about a year ago. When she came to us she was young and very scared. I started putting out food for her. (The reason she's permanent, I think.:-) Near summer she was used to me and would come closer and eventually I could pet her. Now she can't get enough of me. Every time I step outside she's there following me, wanting petted first and then often, food. She is very sweet. She is an outdoor cat because of my allergies, but that doesn't stop me from petting her. I think she says, "We belong together." I know she's grateful that I put a heated house for her on the patio, next to the breezeway, because she's always in there when it's cold.
I think along the same lines as Whiskers, in that, "We belong together." We have such dedicated singers who want to be a part of our family. We have a bond through music and in turn, friendships are made. Almost weekly I hear from someone about enjoying getting to know someone new. I hope that's the case for you all. Be confident enough to talk to someone. Whiskers took that chance and now we're friends.
(Update: Last Sunday Ann Conley gave Whiskers a new home - indoors! I miss her and sometimes feel guilty because she had decided I was her person. I know Ann will love her. By the way, we named her Whiskers because of her very obvious white whiskers.)
Raindrops keep falling on my home - ahhh, the relaxing sound of the steady rain. Isn't it nice? I can sit and listen until it lulls me to sleep.
Our concerts are a stress reliever as well. It is my hope that when our listeners come, they can leave their worries at the door and find joy, laughter, beauty and renewal through it all.
To give that gift to all who attend, we must sing our best, and that not only means using our beautiful voices, always, no matter how loud or soft, but it also means, having all the right notes and rhythms. We don't want to create worry that someone will sing when they're not supposed to. (OK, some may laugh, but I wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of that laughter.)
So, learn your notes and rhythms in order to sing confidently, without worry for you and others. It is your responsibility to learn. That's why I gave you breakout parts and a recording. Sing with confidence because YOU learned the notes at home.
Everything around me has its own timbre. Tap on a table and listen to its sound. I hear measuring cups clanging and I can tell by its sound whether it is a big or little one, made of metal or plastic. Water boiling in the big soup pot has a different sound than water boiling in a hot pot, which I use for my tea. The spoons clanking on pans has a unique sound based on the material of the pan and spoon. An aluminum pan is a lighter sound and the big roaster is a solid sound. The doors entering the house have their own squeaks and one has a set of bells attached to sound the alarm. I know which door is opening.
So it is with the chorus...everyone has their own unique quality and is a gift to the overall music/sound. Just as we know what utensil to use in cooking, we must know which voice (hopefully not a playground voice) to use in our songs. Your voice has a purpose.
Sing confidently, knowing how you fit in to the mix.
Are you a casserole or a steak?
Thoughts by Christine
Listening for the Music #5
Thump, thump, thump, thump! My suncatchers on our windows start vibrating. I hear the constant rhythmic thump, thump approaching and in a bit, I hear it again and listen as it disappears.
Our house is in the path of the emergency helicopter that goes to and comes from Mercy Hospital. Often when I hear it, I say a little prayer for the one whom it carries, because I know it is life threatening.
ACFAC makes music together, but we all know we are more. We are singers making a difference. And I don't mean just for our Causes. I know of members who pray for someone going through some challenges. I know when someone shares a scary diagnosis, or a loss of a job, they are the recipients of handwritten notes and cards, as well as emails and calls checking up on them.
It's good to be part of a caring community , making a difference.
Sing confidently knowing you are doing your best for others, not just you. Thank you for that!
Thoughts by Christine
Listening for the Music #6
In our home we have Alexa who lives with us. She is very smart, but sometimes, very dumb. "Come on! Why don't you know that?!"
One of the things I like about her is she knows when I want to listen to music and when I want silence. Oh, ok! I tell her.
That's not much different than what we're singing in ACFAC. The composer tells us where to sing and where to be quiet. The rests serve a purpose. Can you figure those out?
Confidently observe those rests and sing, knowing why they are there.
Thoughts by Christine
Listening for the Music #7
Today I am sitting in quiet, but am I?
I hear the tick tick of our Cuckoo clock and every 30 minutes she sings. That steady beat keeps time so that she can do her part.
Where might you find that steady beat in ACFAC? First, it would be me. I wave my hands and arms for a purpose. (I hope that wasn't a surprise. :-) Then there's Mark who keeps a beat with the piano. (Always following me.) Rhythm certainly is part of music and some that's more challenging. You have more of that in this concert. Just as that steady beat of the clock keeps it "living," so it is you need to be accurate in singing your rhythmic parts or we may not end at our destination together or worse, we could crash and burn and have to rebuild it from the beginning.
My cuckoo just sang, thanking me for winding it up every morning and evening. That, in turn, reminds me that studying my music and learning your rhythms keeps you going, as does your work on it all keeps us alive. We all appreciate your daily/weekly beat of your part so that we can sing confidently, without missing a beat.
Thoughts by Christine
Listening for the Music #8
I enjoy watching birds and feeding them. I also enjoy photographing them, but often I don't have the patience for the best shots. I guess that's why I only have 7 on my walls...photos, that is. (Our house is full of my photos from vacations.)
There are times of the year that there is only one bird that I can hear while inside with the doors and windows closed. That is the Blue Jay. They can be a noise bunch, grabbing seeds and leaving in a hurry. The chickadees also do a swoop and grab, but they quickly leave to go eat in private. Woodpeckers seems polite, willing to share the seeds or the suet. We have a lot of sparrows (They have to eat too.) and house finches, with a few cardinals, titmouse, nuthatch (A favorite of mine - they are kind of the clown in the lot.) and more.
In the Spring I love listening to all the singing and chattering going on. We have those who pass through and stay a couple days or weeks...Baltimore Orioles, Rosebreasted Grossbeak, and once a Scarlett Taniger. (Wow!) But there are always the regulars. The charter members?
This is much like our chorus. The charter members and those who fly out of rehearsal (swoop in and out) and then the ones who will talk with everyone. We have the long-timers, the seasonal singers, those passing through and don't stay long, the fashion conscious, the bossy ones and the peace makers. (Doves) I love watching the relationships. I love seeing ones who are loving to all. (I bet you can identify those.) We need those "doves" among us. Even when there are bullies, they keep coming back. They are forgiving. (Am I still talking about birds or people?)
It strikes me that all birds have their safe havens. It is my hope that ACFAC is your safe haven and we are all there because of our love of music. It's ok if you are like the Jay or Chicadees, or more like the Sparrow or the dove. Let's just come together to be chorally fed.
Being friendly takes confidence in yourself. Join me in the love and sing (and greet) confidently.