Last spring I had the opportunity to participate in a songwriter’s concert with some other great folks at Southern Seminary. This is a live recording from that night of Great Is Thy Faithfulness. Enjoy!
My schedule has been full of music: accompanying voice lessons and choir rehearsals, teaching piano lessons, playing for ballet classes. Finding time to write music has been more challenging. I recently picked up Writing Better Lyrics by Pat Pattison however, and I’ve been doing the first assignment semi-regularly- object writing. The gist of the assignment is to write for 10 minutes using all of your senses with an object as your jumping off point. For example, I have written about a bird picture on our calendar, our clock, a grand piano, melting snow and mail slots to name a few. How, you may ask, can you use your sense of smell to write about a calendar? The object is only the starting point, and then you can move on- so for the calendar, I ended up describing a woodland scene with two cardinals and the smell of the musty ground and leaves.
Object writing has been helpful as an avenue to stretch my writing as well as making me more aware of things around me even when I am not writing. Sometimes writing and music make me go off in la la land (thinking about them so much I don’t notice anything else 🙂 ). In contrast, object writing make me notice the outside world better and I think I see beauty more frequently because of it. This alone seems like a success to me.
On another front, as I already mentioned, I accompany for the Boyce College Choir and we will be heading on tour in a week. When the director was looking for arrangements of Amazing Grace I thought I’d try my hand at putting one together. They are going to sing it and I am very excited to hear something I worked on performed by an ensemble.
Over the past year I’ve been able to participate in some songwriting workshops with Steve and Vikki Cook, and will have the opportunity to sing a piece or two at a concert of original songs on March 25th (this coming Tuesday) at Southern Seminary (in Heeren Hall). Come listen! 🙂
In my *free* time I throw a ball to the dog, clean the apartment, and read a bit (just finished The Shallows: What The Internet Is Doing To Our Brains by Nicholas Carr, and thus I should probably end this internet session). I also did my first house project in a while:
I thought it was ironic since we don’t have a bathtub. Hah.
Also, I’m very excited for spring break. 🙂
I had the privilege of singing with Nathan Bird and NorrSound Vocal Ensemble this last week in Minnesota and thoroughly enjoyed my time. The following are a few random reflections the concert brought about.
Collaborating is a gift (and a fun time!)
All of the singers for this event were alumni or currents students of Northwestern College in St. Paul, MN, as well as of the College Choir there. College Choir is one of the first places I experienced a sense of real community. Singing together brings you together (as all the “choir couples” can attest to 😉 ). The shared work, time, and then resulting music is a process that is hard to describe, but is so valuable. I am sure many groups with shared goals experience some of that same community, but I am always blessed to re-experience collaborating with other musicians and see the results that come from it. Somehow collaboration seems to make the whole more than the parts. It is no surprise that a lot of creative work comes from places where artists are gathered together and fan the flames in each other’s work. It was good to sing together and laugh together and make nervous humming staying-warmed-up vocal noises together.
Sometimes I get frustrated by how much time it takes to merely stay presentable and hygienic- showers, hair brushing, sweeping up the hair off the floor, taking out the garbage. Never mind eating and getting dressed. I have been trying to tell myself that it is part of the larger work of “holding back the forces of chaos”- haha. Well, I realized Thursday I should have trimmed my bangs again when they got stuck in my eyelash in the middle of singing a heartfelt rendition of Shelter with a camera closeup on my face. I decided the graceful exit was keeping my eyes closed in a meditative look. 🙂
Aging can be helpful
Nathan graciously commented that my voice sounded better than on the album, which I regard as surprising given my sporadic vocal work over the past 8 mo. since completing the recording. It is rather sad, I know. In any case, if it’s true that my voice has improved, it is most likely due to aging, i.e. maturing. So, just thought I would give a shout out to the much maligned process known as aging- who knew you could do good things?
Home is a complex word
I grew up in Minnesota, and moving away has identified it as my home, the place I come from and know well. Going back for Christmas and then for this concert are chances to be in a familiar place and more importantly see familiar faces. But the fact is I no longer have a home there, though at the same time I have many home-like places. At the airport I told my sister-in-law that we should go home, by which I meant my in-laws’ place. I went to my parents’, a place that was my home for a while, and then said I was going home when I headed to my lodging for the week. And at the end of it all, I was glad to go home to Kentucky and my husband, my dog and apartment, back to a schedule and employment. One of my piano teachers talked about a “home and away” conception of music. To be understandable and effective, music has to have a sense of going somewhere and then returning. If we were always “away” in terms of chords, melodic line and intensity there would be anxiety and stress in the music. If we are always “home” there is no variety and a sense of being stuck and oppressed by sameness. I am glad to have gone somewhere, and now I am glad to be home.