Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Whaddya know 'bout that?

Gah! For Pete's sake!

Apparently, some people think I can sing.

I enjoy singing. Actually, I love singing. It's something that I've worked at for many years, learning from many teachers throughout my life. I remember things that I learned from my elementary school music teacher (named, appropriately, Mrs. Staff!), tidbits from junior high school--though I didn't as greatly enjoy being in that particular group--and the legions that I learned in high school. In high school, our teacher was (and still is) one of the best anywhere in the Midwest. She learned choral teaching and conducting under Dr. Robert Fountain, and was absolutely born to do what she does. Many of the student teachers who progressed through her classroom were also students of Dr. Fountain, and had more and more to teach those eager to learn. Many of the techniques that I still use, I learned from them. Methods of breathing, of focusing tone, of releasing phrases, of enunciation--all of the mechanics of singing--I picked up here and there.

But in all of this time, save for the required course work, I've not ever really studied singing. I wanted to; when I went to college for a whole semester (!--before I ran out of money), my major was vocal performance. One semester, however, does not make a vast amount of difference. I learned, yes, from my vocal professor, but have always been a little sad at how much more I could have learned had things worked out differently.

The choir with which I now sing is a very good choir. We focus on sacred music from various genres, always keeping in mind the liturgical applications. This year, one of the pieces selected by our director, Pat, is the aria and chorus from Messiah, "O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion." Back around October, Pat asked me if I would be willing to take a shot at the aria. Well, ok...I'm familiar with it, since I sing along with the CD in my van, and I was hearing it plenty when I was in the Messiah choir beginning in August (we performed on the 11th). So I gave it a shot.

I have a hard time performing anything solo. I love singing in a choir--to work to blend with those around me, to be amidst the harmonies and conspire to weave beautiful tapestries of music with a group of musicians is pure bliss! Ah, but to have the eyes and ears of listeners focused on my voice alone is terrifying. And with a work so well known and loved as Messiah, well, that just takes plain guts. And work. Lots and lots of work.

So to prepare, I asked the Lord what I always ask Him, chiefly to let my voice be silent and His be heard, for His glory. I do this at the beginning of every Mass when I am the cantor, and any time I have even the smallest of parts which might stand out.

I also spent plenty of time with my CD, hearing Carolyn Watkinson croon to me, and doing my best to join her.

Amazing, isn't she? And I must say, I kind of enjoy it when people surprise me and don't match their voice. When I found this video this afternoon, it was the first time I'd laid eyes on this lovely person. I somehow imagined her to be somewhat older, rather larger, with bouffant-ish red hair, and wearing something flouncy, sparkling, and overflowing with chiffon. Idn't she cute? :) Just sayin'.

At any rate, I sang the aria, because I like to do as I'm told.

It was gushed over. Which, of course, translates to "I" was gushed over. I hate that. I don't mind that people appreciate, but it was a huge relief when my dear friend Amy understood when I said that it didn't feel the greatest, and that I wasn't entirely happy with it.

It was enough, though, for another friend to let me know that he intends to broadcast it on the radio, for Pete's sake.


Huh. Whaddya know 'bout that?

No comments: