Monday, August 29, 2011

One Music-Induced Stupor Coming Up

The Christmas season has started for choirs everywhere. This may or may not be good news depending on the choice of music, but for me, it's EXCELLENT!

Our choir director has chosen a good pile of great stuff; I like all of them. But by far the best two pieces are the ones about light: Lux Arumque, by Eric Whitacre; and O Nata Lux, setting by Guy Forbes. I have ever been a huge fan of ethereal a cappella pieces, and Eric Whitacre is one of the most amazing composers of this type. Those distonal chords and the resonant high sopranos...the sheer magic of it is enough to suspend me completely in a music-induced stupor.

The words of the song are taken from a poem by Edward Esch.

warm and heavy as pure gold
and the angels sing softly
to the new-born baby.

Whitacre had the poem translated into Latin:

calida gravisque pura velut aurum
et canunt angeli molliter
modo natum.

Here is Whitacre's virtual choir performing the piece. Enjoy. Then come and see us perform (minus about 160 voices) in December.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Musings on Becoming Expert

I just finished up editing and evaluating a manuscript. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of handing it back to the very nervous author, who was expecting me to tell him never to write again. Instead, I congratulated him for having actually written a novel, since many people have it on their bucket list but only a few ever accomplish it. Then I showed him the pages of notes I had written for him; he nearly fainted when he saw the editing marks covering every single page of his book. I think in that moment he really felt like throwing up his hands and never trying again, though he was paying me to tell him what worked and what didn't.

I told the author that he had the beginnings of a great book, despite what it looked like after I got through with it. I told him that constantly practicing his writing will only make him better and better, and if he gets sick of his current novel, he can start another one. Why not? Plus, even the most famous published authors have often written multiple novels before getting that one acceptance letter among a huge pile of rejection slips.

While dropping off Little Gary for his first day of preschool today, I saw a poster outside one of the classrooms at the elementary school. It said, "Every expert started out as a beginner." I love that. No one is naturally perfect at doing anything without hours of dedication and practice. Even if you have a talent, only the time you put in to honing it will make you an expert. You don't even have to have a natural ability for something to get good at it if you're willing to work. Nothing is out of bounds for anyone; you just have to decide where your efforts will be placed.

Sounds like good advice to me! I think I'll finally pull out that dusty old manuscript I've had sitting on the shelf for far too long and start becoming an expert.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Thar She Blows!

I tried out some spray wax last week. The hairstylist used it at the salon on Elannah and convinced me to purchase some, dangling the carrot of a 50% discount. Elannah looked adorable, and I wanted to do something with my new, shorter do, so I went ahead and bought a bottle. It feels a bit odd (like having wax in your coiffure!), but I was able to scrunch my hair into light waves and have them stay put all day.

The next morning, I looked in the mirror and laughed so hard I nearly took a picture. Nearly. Obviously, I couldn't keep the wax in my hair unless I was willing to sport some ultra-funky look (which I wasn't on a Monday), so I took a shower to wash it out. I shampooed once and shampooed again. Then I checked the spray wax bottle, which said, "A second shampooing may be necessary."

Phhht. Understatement. I shampooed my hair five times, and I still couldn't get it all the way out. The only reason I gave up shampooing was because I was running out of hot water.

Several showers later, I think it's finally been washed down the drain. I now view that sleek, white bottle with a jaundiced eye, though I haven't thrown it away yet, thinking there must be some good use for it. What if I want a mohawk? A girl never knows when the urge will strike.

Word to the wise: Paul Mitchell is laughing all the way to the bank.

Other than using myself as a guinea pig for crazy hair products, I've been so busy that I have spent the last month ready to puke with stress at any moment. Some people thrive on stress and busyness. Not I. I crumple. My brain functions take a vacation, my hands wring themselves, and I occasionally try to hyperventilate for good measure. Where did my tolerance for stressful situations go? Has age and experience put me at a level where the smallest things will send me over the edge?

I do remember being this stressed in high school. In my senior year, I found myself as the yearbook editor-in-chief AND layout editor, co-editor of the literary magazine, choir president, and occasionally involved in the school's drama productions (once as a singing narrator in a Russian play and once as living scenery during Shakespeare's Twelfth Night) (and no, I wasn't an overachiever. My GPA was never a 4.0. Necessary involvement was the bonus of attending a school where my graduating class was only 40 strong). I was also in the city youth orchestra, president of my seminary class, and dating a boy I could only see in the late evenings because of his schedule. There was some hand-wringing going on that year. In contrast, college was a huge relief.

I have, however, come through this month's numerous deadlines, duties, and responsibilities with only a few new twitches. I never did throw up, and getting the kids ready for school in the mornings seems easy in comparison. This morning, I took time to dance to some 80s music Husband bought for me. Nothing relieves stress like belting out "Because your kiss, your kiss is on my list. Because your kiss, your kiss, I can't resist. Because your kiss is on my list of the best things in liiife!" with Hall&Oates, or rocking out to "Eye of the Tiger."

No pictures were taken to preserve your sanity.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Let Me Fly

If you've been reading this for a while, you'll know I love singing in my county choir. They're a fun bunch of people, and the director is absolutely amazing. Not only does she pick challenging music, she's very good at what she does, and that makes all the difference in the world in a choir.

Here we are singing "Let Me Fly" in our last concert. It wasn't my favorite song, and it's the first one of the concert, so those sopranos were really reaching for the high notes, but I thought I'd share it because you can actually see me in this video. After all, this is my blog. I'm in the second row, right in front of the white column. When the female soloist steps down to sing in the microphone, you can see just about all of me.

You're lucky my daughter ran out of disk room before we got to "Pink Panther," when I went just a little crazy with a pink feather boa. How embarrassing. My alter-ego completely took over.

Oh, you love it when I let loose.

You scare me. I mean, I'm lucky there wasn't a pole right there or I'm not sure what you would have done.

Naw, nothing that bad, but it was hilarious watching Husband's eyebrows try to climb into his hairline.

Believe me, I'll never forget.

The choir director did encourage me to have fun, remember? Right before that number, she whispered to me, "Let it loose! Just like dress rehearsal."

I'm not talking about this anymore. My parents-in-law were there. I blush just thinking about it. Hee hee hee!

I am so much more a part of you than you'll ever care to admit, and you don't mind one bit.

Hush, now. That's our little secret.

Ahem. Anyway, I'm pretty glad there's no recording of that part of the performance. Honestly, when I get on stage, sometimes I really do just let it all go, and I'm never quite sure what's going to happen. Never hand me a pink feather boa and ask me to sing "Pink Panther." It will be better for all of us. Besides, it's hard to sing when I'm shimmying. In my defense, if some of the other women hadn't been laughing so hard I wouldn't have been encouraged to be quite so outrageous.