Wednesday, December 30, 2009

M.M.Ed.

I have to get my application in for my Masters.


This is a little overwhelming. But I think I'm just letting myself be overwhelmed...this is do-able.


Here's what I have to do:

- write a paper on my philosophy of music education and why music education is important to the public school system. (I'm actually really into this...just insecure about my writing style and trying to sound cohesive and intelligent.)

- videotape myself teaching a lesson. (this might be a little harder to pull off, but I'm going to try to enlist the help of some of my friends. Then there's the chance the taped lesson falls to pieces for any number of reasons...we'll see.)

- apply for financial grants/scholarships (doubt I'll get any, but it's worth trying)

- fill out application (I love this part. Something so thrilling about filling out a simple form. I know, I'm a dork. I love Staples too.)

- find some people who would be willing to recommend me, and see if they can write one up in a month. (That's not a lot of time for a recommendation.)

I know there are a few other things in there as well, but I have to get this done and in to the program by Feb 1. I'm not really freaking out yet, but starting to think about it. I actually really like deadlines, because it makes me get some things done, but man, is it stressful. I don't eat, I sleep less, I type more, I agonize more over every time anyone has every told me I'm not good at anything pertaining to anything I'm trying to accomplish.

Just do it. Who cares, right? What does it matter how others perceive me? I'm doing this because it is dream God has given me. I do like to teach. I do think it's important to educate young people how to be artsy and creative. And I think God has given me some tools to do it somewhat well. There's a lot to learn though. I have to find my grounding in Jesus, not in others' high and low opinions. They are just His creations too. Just like me. I guess I just need to do the work set before me.

So, on to philosophizing about music education...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

one of my favorite christmas songs.

tears are falling
hearts are breaking.

how we need to hear from God.

you've been promised -
...we've been waiting...!

welcome, holy child.



hope that you don't mind our manger
how I wish we would have known

but long-awaited holy stranger
make yourself at home

please, make yourself at home.




bring your peace into our violence
bid our hungry souls be filled

Word now breaking heaven's silence
welcome to our world
welcome to our world



fragile fingers sent to heal us
tender brow prepared for thorn
tiny heart whose blood will save us
unto us is born
unto us is born





so wrap our injured flesh around you
breathe our air and walk our sod
rob our sin and make us holy

perfect son of God
perfect son of God


welcome to (our) world.

Monday, December 21, 2009

holiday equality?

I have had a couple of really interesting discussions with colleagues in the music education field regarding holiday celebration in the public schools. There are so many differing views on this topic - it is impossible to please everyone.

The elementary school in which I work does not have a winter concert. There is opportunity for one, and I suspect one has been done in the past, maybe about 10 years ago. I would not mind putting one on every year, if only just during the school day, having various grades sing for the remainder of the student body, concluded with a sing-a-long of some sort. It has been a touchy subject with parents for years that the schools should not be advocating the "Jesus" part of Christmas...we have to sing about Chanukah, we have to make sure we include Kwanzaa, some districts are even making sure Winter Solstice is part of the celebration. While it is difficult enough to get even one holiday's songs in during the busy 40 minutes/week I get to see the students, it is near impossible to get one song per holiday before winter break. I am starting to think it would be best to just forgo having the kids do any sort of holiday music, which would be a crime to the history of our country, and is a shame to waste that opportunity in music class to teach the kids to sing and play these songs well.

However, I have already been talked to by my principal about a parent who mentioned I was "teaching Christmas songs about Jesus" in my classroom. I understand the sensitivity, as Jesus has always caused argument among people, but I took offense because the activity being complained about was not even a song they were learning to sing. And I was not even the one talking about Jesus. Another child asked me if that was the history about the song. I replied, "yes," and moved on. This is what the parent is complaining about.

Anyway, my problem with this whole scenario is, if there is supposed to be tolerance and equality in all things in our society, then why are the songs about Jesus during the holidays off-limits? Why is it ok to sing Chanukah songs, which are all religious in their language, but not ok to sing the traditional Christmas songs of our country? A music educator friend of mine was saying that she received an email from her administration, instructing them that they (the music team) could use any music for the holiday sing-a-long, as long as Jesus wasn't mentioned. I (and she) saw this as prejudiced and hypocritical, since their district is heavy on promoting equality.

This just is really getting to me. Although this is not that big a deal, I am pretty irritated that everyone who complains that their holiday doesn't get enough "air-time" is coddled and appeased while Christians just have to suck it up and bow to many others's ignorance and blatant disrespect of our holiday. I really try to be inclusive, and am not upset by wishing people "Happy Holidays" as opposed to "Merry Christmas." I do not want to disown people I know who don't celebrate Christmas...that's just stupid.

What I do want, is for the hypocrisy to stop. This is just one example of many in the US where a wrong for one person doesn't translate into a wrong for someone else. If we are truly equal, we should be able to celebrate Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Winter, Christmas (commerically), and Christmas (religiously). Jesus is my reason for celebrating. I don't appreciate you pushing Him out. If we are being equal, let's be equal. I will acknowledge your holiday; you acknowledge mine.

As for the schools, the small vocal minority of parents in my district have made it clear in many ways that Christmas music in any form is equal to discrimination in their eyes. So, I think we should forgo any teaching of any holiday. We can't pick and choose if we can't include them all.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

for the soul.

I sang twice today - once paid, once unpaid. They were both worth it.

The first was a funeral for a man that I didn't know. I was asked to sing as a "fill-in" soloist...this is easier for me to do for a funeral since knowing the people involved brings emotions that are usually too hard for me to keep in check to sing well. The family had no preference of song, so I chose "It is well with my soul", the old traditional hymn. I LOVE this hymn. I had sang it before at my physics teacher's funeral when I was a freshman in college, and it was a pivotal moment in my performing career, another story for another time.

I have been thinking a lot about singing for the love of the music, the love of the poetry being sung, singing for love of singing. And today, I think I did. I mean, I know I did. That song has meaning for me in more ways than one, and I sang to my Savior today, and I sang to the people who don't know Him, pleading with them to hear the love in my song for this wonderful God, and I sang to give glory to the One who gave me my voice. And it was so much better than worrying about singing correctly.

The difference in this performance from others where I have let go like that is - I didn't let it get away from me. I was able to trust my technique was solid and focus on breath and tone and resonance when needed while simultaneously letting the performance just...flow. I think I am starting to make some progress.

The other singing gig I had was with my choir. This was our third Christmas concert of the year, and it was a major theater in Boston. We were not the feature of the evening, but we were the pre-show. People were walking in and finding their seats while we were providing background music/entertainment until the real show began. And it was a full house. And we made them stop in the aisles and forget about their seat and listen and stare. And we made them holler and applaud and love us. And it was wonderful to sing to people who appreciate, even if they don't always understand. And it was wonderful to sing with my choir-mates, my fellow choristers, my friends.

So often, becoming recognized as a "good" singer/performer/actress/showman of any sort becomes about connections and money and extreme availability...when really, there are talented singers in many places. Some of them don't have the time or the availability or the money to constantly be out there trying to be noticed. But when they sing, people are stunned. When they act, audiences are captivated. When they are on, people pay attention. The people watching wonder why this person is "hanging around here when they could be in New York!" (I heard this comment today about our choir)

I used to want to be famous. Words like these would go to my head and make me long for big city lights and large venues to sing in. Now, I am trying to sing because I want to sing. I don't care about being recognized. Sure, it's nice - everybody likes to be noticed and appreciated. But, I don't want it to go to my head like it used to. I don't want it to be as important as it used to be. A comment from an audience member would make or break a performance for me. Not anymore. I know I will fall into that trap at times again, but I hope that I will continue to learn what music is for. It is not for money, not for filler, and not for distraction. For me, it is for the soul...

...even if nobody listens.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Love then.

Here are a few inspiring words from my friend's blog (you can find the entire post here). To read about Mary Lou Churchill's passion for music and love of it was a much needed wake-up call for me-the-performer. I began singing as a teeny little girl, wailing away to Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, and anything else that my motown-loving dad would put on in the car. I would sing myself to sleep every night, just with any old song that struck my fancy. I would sing to God as a prayer, instead of speaking it. I would try for the high notes and be so excited at the thrill it would bring to hit them, and sometimes even hit them well! ;)

But somewhere along the line, I went into training as a singer. There, I was told that I had "potential" but needed to "clean the technique up a bit." I had always been told by listeners that they enjoyed the meaning I put into whatever song was being sung. But, lately, in the quest to better my singing - and present myself well at auditions - I have forgotten the first rule of performing: Love the music. If you are not performing with love, you are nothing but a clanging cymbal or a crashing gong.

"It appears that the greatest concern of the young musician seeking an orchestral position is the belief in stage-fright or nerves. Assuming proper preparation and a good attitude (I have nothing to lose, I don't have the job so I can't lose it), the manifestation of a loss of control is simply fear; fear of not doing as well as you can. There is a law of this universe which is so simple and so powerful and it literally wipes this fear out of your being, and it is this... "perfect love casts out fear." If you are actively engaged in loving your instrument, loving the music, loving the audience, loving the committee, loving your enemies, then there is simply no room for fear of any kind, and you will find yourself playing better than you expected. To love is to live, and breathe, and sing, and play. Love then." ~ Mary Lou Speaker Churchill

Monday, December 07, 2009

Feedback from Magic Flute Audition

So, I finally got some feedback from the Magic Flute audition that I posted about here.

Comments from panelists:

* Could consider the possibility that soubrette soprano rep would be better than mezzo

*Not much in the way of acting – doesn’t move - needs specificity!!

*Vibrato occasionally fluttery (off breath)

*Posture could be much better

*Too harsh in chest voice

*Lots of potential, change is needed


Comments from Stage Director - General comments for everyone:

* EASE. Physically, with character, with voice. Be pleasant and fearless. Do not force anything... everything should seem to flow out of you. Many people at these auditions were "chained" to the floor. A lot of folks were singing from the waist up and seemed to be presenting as opposed to performing. Finally, be careful not to wander aimlessly.

* JOY. It should seem to "make your day" to get this chance to perform... try not to care whether it is an audition or a show. When you have fun it makes us want to watch you and listen to you.

* FOCUS. Do NOT look at the audition panel! Many folks were not in character at all... they would watch us to see what we were doing. Or wander aimlessly. Find specific focuses that make sense within your aria and relate to your character.

It's SO great to get feedback from real people in the business. I am privileged that they took the time to email this to me. It is a struggle to stay positive, especially when I have been feeling like I've been singing well for the last year or two. And, now come to find out the problems are more than I thought. But, there are good things, and I need to work with what I have and work to fix the things I don't have or are weaknesses.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

some God-rambles.

I have been too judgmental lately. I have been putting people in a neat little box. I have been writing actions off as "just plain cruel" or "totally selfish" or "unthinking stupidity."

But the unfortunate truth is, there are many facets to people. I should not write off the person who cut me off at the supermarket as a rude and self-focused boor...when they might have been thinking about a fight they just had at home with one of their family members and so were understandably distracted. I should not believe co-workers to be cruel based on the testimony of another co-worker who, admittedly, sees the world through grey-colored glasses.

Where is the person in me that used to look for the good in others? That girl who was disappointed more than once at those who didn't rise to my expectations, but who believed the friend/acquaintance/stranger had it in them to rise to it anyway? The girl who would cheer for humanity when other, more cynical friends would give others a second chance, even when they seemed like a lost cause?

Have I become that jaded? Do I see only the "there is none that are good, no not one" and not the "love your neighbor as yourself"? Who am I to call down judgment? Is it not left to God to judge? I am called to forgive. And forgive. And forgive. I am called to love God and my fellow man. I am not called to be justifiably angry when I am wrongly accused, or spitefully ignored, or even betrayed by another. Jesus had all these things happen, and he trusted that vengeance was God's. He trusted that there was a bigger plan. And he trusted that God made the creatures who hurt him. He trusted that God loved them. And he knew his place in God's plan.

I think that is an extremely hard concept for humans...dare I say, American humans...to swallow. Jesus knew his place. He accepted that there was a limit to what he was supposed to do. God wanted him to die on that cross to save you and I and all who would come to Him. Jesus certainly, as a human, didn't want to go through with it. He even prayed to ask that it wouldn't have to happen. But, God, in His wisdom and compassion and grace for you and I, said no to His son, and Jesus knew his place.

Do I know my place? I am constantly fed through the media and culture I live in that no one has to have a "place" anymore...we have all broken through the barriers of race, of culture, of authority, of age. But, with that has come broken relationship, egotistical minds, and unknown boundaries. Some barriers are certainly good to break through - like racial barriers. It's appalling to think it took us this long to treat all men equal, despite how they look. And we still have some ways to go. But others, like the barrier of age...there is little to no respect for age anymore. These people may be out of touch with technology (some of them), but they are a wealth of information about life and how best to live it. But young people are taught from very young that an aging person is a decrepit person who has nothing to offer because youth is everything. Unfortunately, we all get old, so this is an unwise direction for society to look.

God desires that we submit our wills to Him. It is not easy, quick, or pleasant, as so many things in society strive to be. But it is our place as Christ followers to submit. It is anti-American. It is ludicrous to try to explain to someone. But it is God's desire. And I have found it can be a daily activity, even hourly activity to submit. But it's better than the alternative of trying to live my own way. I've tried that. I ended up crying myself to sleep every night, wondering what was wrong with my life. I needed God to be in control, because I sure couldn't be. I screwed stuff up way too much.

I bet if a lot of you are still before God, you will hear that need echoing around in you somewhere. Talk to God about it.

Friday, November 20, 2009

a little too much...

Today: shopping to use up my awesome free coupons, cleaning the church, cleaning a house, babysitting, meeting with S., ...and I just realized that this will all be in the rain.

Tomorrow: clean the stinking house and get as ready as possible for our trip to OK.

Sunday: church, travel to Gillette for amazing Patriots game! Get back late-ish.

Monday: work, pick up kids, babysit, make dinner, lyricora rehearsal.

Tuesday: work, pick up kids, make dinner, meet J. for tea and bonding, pack!

Wednesday: work 1/2 day, try to get out a little early to get home for last minute packing, leave for airport around 1:30-2. Go to OK with a 2-year-old who hopefully won't melt down on the plane during bedtime! :)

How does everything just get so crazy for the holiday times?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Peaz-u and Thank you.

Jeremiah: "Peaz-u mummy."


Jon: "Jeremiah, it's Daddy."


Jeremiah: "uh, Daddy."


Jon: "Say, 'Please, Daddy."


Jeremiah: "Peaz-u Mummy. Uh, Daddy."


(man behind the store counter laughs)


Jon: (to man) "We're working on it!"


Sunday, November 08, 2009

Affirmation...and Rejection

I accomplished my goal...(was it really me?)...I got passed the first round of Opera Idol and was asked to sing in the second round Semi-Finals yesterday. My friend, Dan, was also asked back - we were both ecstatic. I felt really affirmed that I can sing well, and especially so because I sang a song that I have not gotten much positive feedback from: the "Seguidilla" from Carmen.

I know I said earlier that I was going to sing "Una Voce...", but they changed the format up and had the judges choosing a song for the first round. Two women before me sang two of my selections, 1)"Va! laisse couler..." and "Una Voce...", so I figured they didn't want to hear either. Those are the two favorites for me out of the four I listed before. The Carmen character is hard for me...I don't like to appear sensual and controlling...which unfortunately is a most of what Carmen is about. But, they asked for Carmen, so I became as much like Carmen as I could possibly be in the moment. They seemed pleased, I felt I sang well, and got a call back on my ride home. Done. Mission accomplished. The fact that I wasn't that nervous, was able to play the character and play with the line and articulation of the song and have others see and hear that - that was my goal for this competition.

Second round was the next day - this time I get to choose my own piece. I felt that the showiest piece was "Una Voce..." even though I know it is done a lot, and I had been waking up every morning feeling more and more like a cold was inevitably coming on. I, again, drank coffee, drank lots of water, warmed up and felt the top was in great shape, the middle and low notes were bellow-y...which happens when my sinuses and throat are swollen. I would just have to be careful to sing through it and keep as much top as possible coming down the lines. This makes the performance a little less powerful in my opinion, but it's better to have good technique when you're not up to par.

So, I went in, sang my piece. It went well as a performance, but I felt I let the bottom of my voice get away from me as it popped in and out a few times during the song. Jon came with me this time, and he didn't think it was that noticable, but maybe it was after all. He and Dan thought I did well - and I felt I did myself justice given the circumstances. The only things I wish I could have over would be my health and my nerves. I ended up being way more nervous than I thought I would be...obviously this made my voice sound shakier than it already was with the sinus-cold-disaster. The panel had the option of asking for a second piece, which they did not, but thanked me nicely. I felt confident enough, but wasn't sure what they thought. Was it good enough for the top 15?

Dan got into the finals, and called to tell me so. Then came the agonizing 2 hours of waiting and slowly coming to grips with the fact that I am not going to get a call. There will be no finals for me. Bummer.

But, if I stick to my original plan - I already accomplished my goal. Everything else would have been icing on the cake.

Maybe next time I should set a bigger goal. ;)

Friday, November 06, 2009

Opera Idol Round 1: 7:20pm

Tonight I will walk into a Lutheran church and sing "Una Voce Poco Fa" as I hope to have never sung it before...and I hope that it is in the good way, not the bad. I have been feeling like a cold is trying to infiltrate my defenses - but I think I may have caught it with some AirBourne in time. This morning my ears were a little wonky, but I drank some coffee, then drank lots of water, warmed up and FELT GREAT. Singing went SO well this morning - I just hope I can sing that well in front of a panel. There are quite a few songs that I have been working on, and I think at this point I need to start having some good friends watch and listen and give tips on how to make the stage presence, sound, and production all work together. I have so many friends who sing beautifully, and I need to take better advantage of that.

If I make it to the second round, the panel will choose a second song from four I will be presenting:

1) Una Voce Poco Fa, Il Barbieri di Sivilgia, by Rossini
2)Pres des Remparts de Seville, Carmen, by Bizet
3)Va! laisse couler mes larmes, Werther, by Massenet
4)Lullaby, The Consul, by Menotti

I feel great with all four, so I hope to just overcome anxiety and remember that all is in the Lord's hands.

So, the kids are asleep, the house is quiet, the laundry is done, and the scones I just made are a little burned, but still good. I am trying to ignore the little nervous turn of the stomach that hiccups into me when I am least expecting it...and focusing on God's word, my music, and my housework.

If I make it past the first round, I will be happy. If I don't, but feel I overcame my nerves and sang well...that will be enough for now. If you read this and get a moment to pray at 7:20pm for my nerves...I'd greatly appreciate it!

Monday, October 26, 2009

low thoughts.

I am feeling a little low lately. I have had two evaluations happen the last week, in both my teaching life and my performing life. Both were good. Both were not horrible. But, I am still doing something that I tend to not usually do with my teaching, and often do with my performing:

Over-analyze.

The teaching scenario involves a normal procedure for non-professional educators: the standard observation. My school has them 4 times a year. FOUR. They are really watching me like a hawk. I cannot make one step without them knowing. But...at least they care, unlike the last district I was in.

Anyway, I had my second observation a week ago monday, and the post-observation the following wednesday. My principal is wonderful...I really do like him. He is new this year, and he is super supportive and firm in his opinions yet gentle in his delivery. The thing I am having trouble with is his assessment of my lessons and procedures, partially because I am not as well-versed in procedure and assessment as I should be, and partially because I have never had someone care enough to give me actual criticism on my teaching. Music doesn't tend to rank high on an administrative's list of "fix this now." Mostly because there is a little thing called MCAS that gets in the way and clouds all reason and opinion.

Again, ANYWAY...I digress. I was observed. And the class went well. And he told me it went well. And then proceded to give me a page (single-spaced!) full of suggestions and recommendations to employ in my classroom. I was a little disheartened...I think mostly because I tend to see those things as failures. If I had no recommendations from the principal, my delusional self would think, "They must have thought it went so well, it could not have been changed for the better!" When, in the past, it has definitely more been that they don't understand my subject and didn't know enough to criticize procedural happenings. This guy was a 5th grade teacher for 10 years, and knows his teaching strategies backwards and forwards. He is genuinely wanting to be a help to us teachers in the district, and even shared with me that many times when he had been observed in years past, he would be frustrated by a lack of suggestions from the administrator. I know this is his angle. I know he means it as a good thing, and not to be taken as criticism. But I am most definitely feeling low and humbled and like I can't teach very well. Or at least, not as well as he would see me teach.

Singing, as you can see from previous posts, is going well. But, I am questioning my confidence...is it valid? Is anyone's confidence truly valid? There are myriads of great singers out there...am I delusional for thinking I can actually sing well enough to get parts and not just be in the chorus? I don't want to be too prideful, but on the flip side, I feel like I have been unconfident with my singing for so long in my life, that to actually have confidence the last few years has been enlightening and helped me start to use my talent. I don't know where the balance is sometimes. I really don't want to be a diva, but am afraid of inevitably becoming one.


I know God would not want that.


Lord, give me clarity. These two fields of study are difficult and full of egos. Please help me check mine and submit to Your desire. Help me to trust Your observations and knowledge of me, instead of flying at every whim of human fancy. Help me to find the truth that is spoken and sift the chaff. Thank You for Your consistency and unending love. Thank You for bringing me to Yourself.


Amen.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

here we go!

I am officially in the chorus for MetroWest Opera's "The Magic Flute."

I am excited, yet desperately wishing I had done better and wondering what the other girls did better. Oi. Some of my friends are in this production as well, so that's fun.

This is a great opportunity, and I am going to really enjoy this...they are going to send me feedback on my audition as well. Which is scary since, as I mentioned before, I forgot an entire phrase.


So...hopefully it won't be too ugly....I'll post them when I receive them.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

thoughts for "Magic Flute" audition today

I am singing, singing..."Voi che sapete..."


then.


"Gelo e poi sento..." Appropriate that I would mess up that one line in my audition. (translation: "Freezing is this feeling...")

Ah well. I can honestly say that my nerves did not get the better of me for this latest audition. I was scheduled to sing two songs - the panel only had me sing one...they were "speeding right through." I know they were behind in the time slots, so I hope they were sincere and not just being nice.

The schedule girl told me, "Nice job!" I try to take that as a good sign when those people say something...since they've heard everyone. And the little time I was there, she hadn't said that to anyone.

So, I am hopeful. The good thing is, I feel I sang well and represented what I could do, to a small extent. The bad thing is, I forgot the aforementioned phrase. UGH! I could just shoot myself in the head. It really ticks me off.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

backwards thinking

I saw a little bit of "So You Think You Can Dance?" last night - there were in the weaning stage...trying to eliminate enough dancers so there were only 20 left...the 20 best, supposedly. The bit I saw had about 4 dancers, and one that they had highlighted for us to be "rooting for" as an audience. After he danced for the judges, they were not very pleased, but told him to keep practicing and come back again another time.

He completely broke down. Tears streaming down him face, trying to not sob uncontrollably in front of the panel and his peers and America, and not being all that successful at it.

One of the judges told him in no uncertain terms that he was not helping his career by doing this. He needed to toughen up and find some inner strength if he wanted to make it in this business. And then he said something that struck a chord for me:

"You need to not care so much." When he said that, the boy was finally able to pull it together.

I can empathize...I've been wondering if my problem all along has been that I care too much about this dream. If only I could not care...I would excel. That seems backwards, but maybe there's something to that.



Saturday, October 10, 2009

"Laud to the Nativity"

I've been asked to sing Respighi's Laud to the Nativity for a Christmas concert in early December. I had never heard of this piece, although I had heard of Respighi in Music History class ages ago. When I was first asked, I youtubed the title and heard a random choir performing...and was unimpressed. Today, after receiving the score and a cd to listen and learn from, I am very impressed. This music is beautiful! I am very excited and eager to start working on it, especially since it needs to be memorized for the concert.

There are three solo characters, as well as a choir and small orchestra. I am Maria, or Mary, who sings last. The mezzo is always the mother. Or the boy. Or the witch. :) But it is really a nice part - it really spans the range and I get to really sing. It was described to me as a "real Marilyn Horne type of singing piece"...which is not my voice because she can be a real beast...but I think I can make it work.

I've been watching too much Project Runway. "Make it work."

Monday, October 05, 2009

Why do I doubt my great God? Because I am narrow and limited and stubborn. Thank you Lord for loving and guiding me anyway. Truly You know best.

Why do I try to do it on my own. It's so stupid.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

attempting release through poetry

up and down
block it out
talk
it
out?
not likely
unless
right one
with
right moment.

God-speak
happening.

peace is not.

emotional
eclectic
stomach churning
pain
without seeming
reason

why does there have to be

why is there
objective
pressure
opinion
time

can't it be simple
black and white
creativity






Can't think

shouldn't think

anymore.





Lord, take my frantic worry, my unknowing, my accidental looks that show my thoughts, my ever-present and crippling fear and turn my face to look towards your God-given peace and Jesus-given love and trust. Show me the gift-filled relationships You have placed in my life. Show me who You are. I need to get beyond this.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Not a fan of:

tired cranky children who pull at my clothes. ({cough} jeremiah...)

tired cranky people who take it out on me. I know we all do it sometimes, but really. Please stop. Go home and go to bed.

apathetic students. When did it become cool to diss your elders?

excuses. Just do it.

sarcastic responses. Get a life.

altos singing tenor parts. Freakin' what? I'm a mezzo!

sore muscles. I think I'm still sick.

nasal drip. 14 days now.

10pm baseball games. Why? Can't it be earlier?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Clean my House!

I've been hired as the cleaning lady at our local church...it's been an interesting ride so far. I really don't think the church has been deep-cleaned in years. I'm doing way beyond the normal requirement of basic cleaning week-to-week...but it is SO needed. I've finally gotten to the point that I'm basically happy with how things look...but a lot of heavy-duty things still need to be done. Like, shampooing the carpets, repainting the windowsills, completely re-doing both the bathrooms in the main church area, purging the library and storage areas that are filled to the brim with sunday school and lesson materials that are decades old.

Ugh, I get so mad just thinking about it sometimes. The first week I was there (scrubbing black stuff off the kitchen walls) I just kept thinking about the fact that any new person stepping into our church would think we don't care about what God thinks at all. We had this place so disgusting...and it is a reflection of how we view our Lord. I don't know why it hit me so hard... maybe because I've just read through the entire Old Testament where every action is about honoring God and the consequences of not giving Him the honor and praise He deserves...but I was incredulous at how dirty everything was. I've been working over the alloted time to scrub down walls and floors and make all these outdated rusty appliances and cabinets look clean in some way shape or form. But the important thing to me is this: We need to keep God's house in shape. It's a reflection of our love for Him, and the rest of the world will notice. I've been slowly getting to all these little things, and thinking to myself, No one will notice that this huge stain on the carpet is no longer here. But I bet they noticed when it was there.

And we wonder why we've had visitors never come back. If you kept your house that way, do you think people would be breaking down the door to return?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Opera Idol

Ooooo....this is cool.

I had a dream that I was going to try out next summer for American Idol (maybe because I watched "So You think you can Dance" last night) and was totally psyched for it. Then I saw an ad for Opera Idol in NH with the Lakes Region Opera company...I think there's a theme going on. So, I'm gonna do it. The competition is sometime in November. A couple friends of mine have done it in the past and said it was fun. There are cash prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd, plus an "audience favorite" category (my friend won that category one year).

I think I'll do my "Una Voce Poco Fa"...it seems to get good feedback, plus it's definitely showy and fun.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

coming up next...

So, no go on "Charlie Brown"...but then I had already assumed that there was nothing there. I don't know that I would want to be part of something that didn't have people to choose from that could come to callbacks. I really hadn't been able to show them much, so I don't blame them at all. In fact, it's a bit of a relief, since the rehearsal schedule for that show was ridiculous! 4 nights a week this month and next and the show wasn't until Nov. 15th or something like that.

Next audition is late October for Magic Flute. 2-3 arias, one in English, perferably one Mozart. I have that, no problem. The rehearsals and show dates for this would take place between March 15 and late May (much more plausible!) and is a company I have auditioned for previously, but didn't get a role. But, they did encourage me to audition again, so here I am.

Really, I just need to keep auditioning, regardless of whether the time makes sense for me or not. At this point, I am still too nervous auditioning to sing well. It doesn't matter if it's an important audition or not. (See this)

I must get over the fear of rejection.

Friday, September 04, 2009

It is so hard to get back into school mode. I have been spoiled rotten this summer...letting myself take naps whenever I want to, going wherever I want to, and not one work obligation. I don't think that's happened since before high school. Of course, I had to be home to let Jeremiah sleep for his nap, but then I could sit outside in the gorgeous weather and read read read for hours and get a perfect tan. Or, I could sleep. Which, believe me was totally worth it too.

And now, I have had one week of school. Well, kind of one week. Two teacher days and one half day of teaching. Which ended up being a joke, because an assembly took all my teaching time away. Anyway, tuesday is my first full day of teaching. I am looking forward to teaching and singing and all that...but am not looking forward to the scheduling. Ugh, how I despise being on a schedule. I know that is probably not normal, but I feel so limited and trapped when I am supposed to be somewhere. And the time that I am not working, I am babysitting my child and another. Which will be fine, but definitely an adjustment as I learn this other child's temperament and way of communicating. During the dinner hour. Every day.

Yes, I'm whining. I'm not really upset by all this, but needing to vent. I don't like working...I like to do what I love and that's it. But, then again, that's everyone, right? ;) At least I'm teaching music. I do have fun with it, and I do find myself getting passionate about it...I think it's just a little harder for me to fully delve into than some other friends of mine. And I kinda wish I were more like them.

But, instead, I am a quirky singer who wants to sing. So, I am making the most of the summer by following up with some singers I made connections with at Longwood Opera, hoping for a little one-on-one time to get advice and ideas on how to proceed. I have two auditions scheduled for the fall. I need to be fearless and guiltless. And I know that really won't happen, but I have to find a way to pretend really well at times. I will not quit now.

Not unless the Lord desires.

Friday, August 28, 2009

a few vs. the masses

I think part of why I get so nervous to sing at an audition (apart from the auditors there to find what is wrong with what you are doing) is the fact that you are singing in front of only one or a few people. I think that is much harder than singing in front of an audience. And audience...you can kind of...block out into a senseless mass that wants to be entertained. They are friendlier and less critical in my mind. They cough and sneeze and whisper loudly about funny things. And they are "supposed" to clap for you at the end. One or two people is just awkward. They are usually close in proximity and don't make any noise. Indeed, they listen carefully, with rapt attention so that any mistake is magnified and judged. And then they decide to accept or reject you. I can be very confident only if I know it is casual. I hate the stand-there-and-sing-while-we-barely-greet-you-and-stare-as-you-pour-out-your-heart-in-song audition.

It's unnerving.

Charlie Brown

So, I tried out for "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" the other night. This is my first official Broadway show that I am trying out for...or should I say "off-off-off Broadway show". Anyways, it's broadway music as opposed to opera/oratorio/art song. And I went in and sang like I usually do, with a little operatic flair, but still expressive and somewhat like these singers are "supposed" to sound. But no belting. Which, believe me, was there some belting going on with the other auditionees whom I could hear very clearly through the paper thin wall that separated the waiting auditionees from the one actually auditioning at the time.

I sang a slow ("Not while I'm Around" from Sweeney Todd) and an upbeat song (Vanilla Ice Cream" from She Loves Me) and then they had me called back in to do a reading for Sally Brown (the soprano in the musical). I did ok on that...not really sure what they thought. I was going for a superiority complex, and they asked me halfway through to be more indignant, so I changed it a bit, and they said "good!" and let me go...without finishing the reading. So, not knowing what that meant, I left.

And got an email today, saying they want me back for more dancing and acting. But I had indicated on my contact sheet that I couldn't make callbacks (Jon and I have free tickets to Tanglewood to see James Taylor), so the director emailed me to say she realizes that and will still take me into consideration for the show. So. There it is.

Whatever happens is what it is. I don't know if I want to do this... there are a LOT of rehearsals and the show is the couple weekends before Thanksgiving. About 4 rehearsals a week. Which I can only make 3 if I get in. Which means, not much time with Jon (Jermeiah would be asleep by the time I would have to leave for rehearsals). But...I'm taking this as an opportunity (again, if I get anything) to stretch and see if this show (opera/musical) thing can consistently happen, or if it's just too hard. I need to be singing and building my resume, and it can't be all concerts and recitals. Plus, even if I don't get this role, it was good to audition. I need more experience auditioning...I still get way too nervous. And I need to know what type of people these other singers are. I am very different than many of those people. Most of them are college age and pretty self-focused. I am married with a kid and working a job with benefits. But, we all want to sing. So, that's something to keep in connection with the rest of these crazy people who are trying to get roles. Like me.

I'll update when I know more.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I'm worried.
I'm fearful.
I'm tired.
I'm not able to catch up.
I'm keeping it to myself.
I'm overanalyzing.
I'm doubting turning thinking.
I'm needing.
I'm sad.

Lord, You know my tears. You know the joys that come in spite of fear and longings for things to be different. You know what I want, and You know what I need. You know where they coincide even as I don't. I trust that I can be whatever I am right now and You know me through and through. Even as I struggle to reveal it to those You've placed close to me. I can trust that You are the great I AM, even though I must remind myself to let go and not cling to what I believe to be better at one moment, and try to accept as gone the next. I want to be strong, but You know me to be weak. And still I am loved beyond reason. Thank You for the times past. Please give me strength to forge along to times ahead. Defeat the demons of discontect, cynicism, and despair that claw at my heart. I am Yours. Let that truth reign in me.

Amen

Friday, August 21, 2009

forget about it

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

"So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow has enough trouble about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." - Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, Mt. 6:31-34

Thursday, August 20, 2009

my WEBSITE!

Yes yes, I'm trying to create a website for self-promotion with my singing. I sincerely doubt it will see the light of day until next spring, because there really isn't much to put on it yet. So far, I have some headshots, my resume, and a (very) short biography of my short career as a singer. But, it's a start! I'm not sure I like the free service I'm using, but it's fun to dabble in this idea. I would be ok with paying for a website as well, but I want to play with this one first and see what I want before I get too professional with it.

So...I'm not telling anyone the web adress yet. Or maybe ever. We'll see. It's really only for me at this point. But maybe I'll let you guys in on a sneak peak at some point in the coming months, if I can get some recordings done and posted on there. :)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

dealing

"Because You are my helper, I will sing in the shadow of Your wings." Psalm 63:7

That verse has meant a lot to me over the years - I found it as a college student and wrote it into all sorts of things so that I would remember His gift to me and how I can use it.

Right now, it is a comfort that I can sing while turmoil is happening. Emotions are high and time is never enough and I just want to crawl into a corner and not answer anyone's questions and sleep and pray and read and not be responsible for anything. I have my last summer concert with Longwood Opera tonight (I am singing the Flower Duet from Delibes' Lakme). My parents are gone in 4 days away from my area of the country and into another one that they love that is truly beautiful and relaxed and perfect for them but still very far away. It is the first time that my family has not been within close proximity with each other. I'm not upset that it's happening, just sad. I think it's a natural reaction. I think any person with a fairly healthy relationship with their parents and family feels it is a bit unnatural to live away from them. It has been a week of packing and cleaning and sorting my parents' stuff and pushing my own emotions away until they have to be dealt with...when I shut down.

It is a comfort to know that God can protect me from myself. From the lies in my head. And he can give me my daily sustenance as I work and talk and plan for the future. I have more opportunities to sing than I used to and that brings me great joy and an outlet for these emotions that I tend to stuff inside. God has provided that for me. He is good. He will protect and nurture me and my little family here even as my parents move farther away. I trust that. It's just hard to say goodbye to seeing them often.



Thursday, August 06, 2009

Just finished Gilbert and Sullivan night with Longwood Opera. What a disorganized mess that was. :( Not too fun to be a part of as a performer, but I don't think the audience caught on. They seemed to love it! I've decided that I need to learn more G&S stuff...since it's pretty popular everywhere and good for young singers to learn. Not my favorite music, but entertaining enough.

Next performance: The Flower Duet from Lakme by Delibes. Singing with another amazing singer that I met at Longwood.

Next audition Longwood Players (no relation to Longwood Opera) in Cambridge is holding auditions for "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown." It's Aug. 26 at about 8pm. I don't know if this is a good idea if I actually get a part, but I want to make myself start auditioning more, and the venue is only 45 minutes from our house.

I've been thinking that if I continue to pursue singing like this, it would behoove me to move closer to Boston. It wouldn't have to be too close, just closer so the drives in would be more like 20 minutes instead of 40. Maybe I can talk my hubby into that. That would work for our further schooling plans too.

Friday, July 17, 2009

the goal is to audition next year for a Masters of Performance degree...hopefully somewhere in Boston. Been working on a few songs, some of which you know from previous posts:

1) Italian:
"Una Voce Poco Fa", Il Barbieri di Siviglia, Rossini
"Voce di Donna", "La Gioconda, Poncielli
"Voi, che Sapete", Le Nozze di Figaro, Mozart
*lots of Italian to choose from...these are the three I think I will focus on at this point.

2)French:
"Pres de Remparts de Seville", Carmen, Bizet
"Habanera", Carmen, Bizet
"Ah! Vaissez Couler mes Larmes!", Werther, Massenet
*I know all three of these, and all are really fun. Out of the three, I am really in love with the Massenet...very dramatic and tragic.

3)English:
"When I am Laid in Earth", Dido and Aeneas, Purcell
"Augusta! How can you turn away?", The Ballad of Baby Doe" Moore
"Must the Winter Come So Soon?", Vanessa, Barber
*I do not know the 2nd one, but like it the best of the three...I know the other two and like them...my voice teacher says the 1st suits my voice well...but I think it's a little understated. But then, I tend to like things over-the-top with my singing. :)

4) German:
"Chacun a son gout", Die Fleudermaus, Strauss
"Nimmermehr wird mein Herze sich gramen", Martha, Flotow
*there are not many options for Mezzo- german arias...I am not thrilled with the 1st musically and the 2nd is unknown to the general population of classical music buffs...but is really fun with lots of coloratura and bravado.

I don't know how many languages I need...it varies from place to place. Most seem to want 3-4...which I would have. The good thing is, most of these songs I've been living and working with for a while, so I can really feel comfortable with them. Except for the German...those are the X factor. And the ones I'll probably be asked to sing, with my luck.

Anyway, just an update. Here's another one of these songs for you to hear, "Voce di Donna". Really pretty.





Monday, July 06, 2009

Very encouraging -

"You just redeemed many 'Una Voce's' for me...I've played that for many people and not one of them sang it as well as you just did." (J. B., the accompanist for L. Opera)

WOW. Thank you, Lord. Please let me always remember that this is for You.

"Una Voce Poco Fa" tonight. There are many things I could freak myself out about...but I have been waiting for something like this for a while. I need to just believe that the directors want me there and put on a smile and sing with spunk and confidence.



Thursday, July 02, 2009

alright, I'll join in on the MJ craze...

I am a big fan of Michael Jackson, the performer. Not so much a fan of Michael Jackson, the person. Although, I am not one that thinks we have free reign to make fun of/derail/or otherwise make derogatory comments about him. I am also not saying that I am guiltless of making such comments...just in thinking about the frenzy his death created these past days, and the millions of opinions that have surfaced about every aspect of him and his music...I have decided that it bothers me.

Regardless of what you think of MJ, you can't deny the talent and artistry that he put into his music and performance. He singlehandedly changed the pop music culture. I admit a bias because I grew up hearing his music (my dad is a big fan as well), so I have an aptitude to listen when it's being played...and occasionally dance.

However, the problems I have are with the comments about his death, things implying he "got what was coming to him," or one I heard from someone who watched a video of him dancing, "I wonder if he's dancing now." What point are you trying to make? That this person is somehow worse than you or I? Unfortunately, all sin is said to be equal, so whether or not the molestation charges were true, whether or not it was wrong of him to change his body the way he did...he was still a sinner regardless. And so are the rest of us. My little white lies and bouts of anger are equal to this man's sins...and I am called to let God be the judge.

This does not mean to turn a blind eye to sin...simply to recognize that the condescending statements that are so often made are not a reflection on the person we are talking about - but on us ourselves and our desire to be "better/higher/more powerful" than those around us. It's our way of saying, "See? I'm not as messed up as that guy. He deserved to die." What a horrible thought. That someone deserves to die. Yet we all do. And it is only by the grace of God that He saves us. We are not the ones to judge. We do not need to approve of his life or his decisions...but we are not to be the condemner. God brings all justice to Himself.

And, one thing we all tend to forget concerning people we don't understand: God loves this one too. I am no better or worse...I cannot win His favor more than this other child of His. It is as if I have two children who were constantly comparing to each other to win my affection. It would be so easy to see that they are simply being prideful and not all that concerned about my affection at all. Yet, I would love them both as much as I possibly could, because it would be in my nature. That is how God is with us. And, believe it or not, He created Michael Jackson. I have no idea if MJ followed Christ, but I do think he was lost and searching. And I believe God cared about him. If we would all look at people as objects of God's love, we would have a lot less pride in this world.

This post seems awfully preachy, but it's something that I've been wrestling with for a few days. Amazing performers are often searching and a little (or a lot) lost and trying to find a way, any way, that works to give peace to their emotions. They often sing or play or act to release the frustrations and frantic energy inside them, as a way to express the emotion without seeming like freaks in the normal world. I know that's one reason I perform. Even if just in the car or by myself while practicing, it is a strong peace that comes with letting it out. I guess that makes me more sympathetic to the "messed-up" artists out there. In a small way, I can almost understand how they get that way. Success usually makes a mess out of true expression. But that's another topic for another day.

If you've stayed with this ramble this far, I hope you see the point I'm trying to make. Love people. I'm not all for being "non-judgemental" and "tolerant" of all things...but I am cognizant that we are vessels and God has made us for relationship with Him...not for hating on each other. We're all messed up in one way or another. How is it going to help if we point it out all the time? Especially when we don't even know the person. Like Michael Joseph Jackson.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I'm being followed!

Being an independent sort of person, I never knew that I would love being followed around by someone else every moment that they are awake. This little person in my life is such a joy...if I go into the bathroom to brush my teeth, he is there to watch and shove his face into my toothbrush. If I go into our bedroom to make the bed, he is there playing on the keyboard and pulling out all our books and climbing on the bed to get to me so he can have a hug. If I go into the kitchen, he is there rearranging all his magnets on the fridge and clamoring for yet another snack. Sometimes, I will venture into his room to "clean" or just tidy up so that he will actually play with the toys he has - which he won't do very often if I don't stay in there with him. And even then, he will want me to read him books and wrestle and sing songs...anything as long as I am interacting with him.

You might read that and think (as I would when I was "pre-kid"): That is exhausting! When does she get time to just do her own thing and relax? But the funny thing is - I AM doing my own thing. Jeremiah just fits into it perfectly. It wasn't overnight...and it wasn't easy making the adjustment. There is not a sudden "mothering-mode" that you get installed into you at the time of the child's birth. But, you learn and learn and learn...about the baby, about letting go, about yourself. And suddenly, you realize that life is normal again. Only it's a new normal with a little person following you around as you putter around the house, run errands, visit with friends. And this little person is completely happy to just be wherever you are. Or, at least mine is. God is teaching me through this little one how it feels to be truly loved for just being who you are. What a blessing.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

thoughts to ponder

It is so different to do anything personal with your life once you become a mother. It is much harder to do anything (besides mothering and taking care of the family and house) that you used to consider so crucial to your livelihood/health/mental stability. Especially when that something takes you away from the motherly and household responsibilities. My singing is a part of me that I can't ignore - although I've tried. It seems to be a nagging bother that I can't get enough time away for - time to study, time to practice, time to learn, time to perform, time to be coached and taught. And it takes what little money we have (it is a "we" now, after all) and throws it into this "hobby" (as some deem it) never to be seen again and hopefully bringing forth more opportunity and result so that I can pour more money and more time into it. And the cycle continues - but does it pay back?

It is difficult for mothers to justify time away from their children. I have a feeling that I am not as militant as many other moms are about spending as much time at home as possible, which entails not working or going out with friends or having much of a llife separate from their kid(s) and husband. And I'm not sure I disagree with those moms that choose to live that way for one reason or another. I think there are clear advantages for kids who's moms stay home 24/7 to raise them. I am a product of one such mom, and it was wonderful having that security. My husband and I can't afford that right now, so i am working part-time. So, as if that's not enough time away from Jeremiah - I am also slowly pursuing this singing career, if it can be called that at this point. But I am constantly aware that every "extra" rehearsal/coaching/lesson/performance takes that time that I am home with him away. Even if these things are at night (usually when I try to schedule them) and he's asleep, it takes precious time away from Jon and mine's marriage. No wonder so many artists of all types have relationship problems.

Art is consuming. To be good at any type of art is consuming. As much as I have tried to forget the dream of being on stage and singing, I just can't. It's in me. Sometimes I hate it, because it takes too much work and I am insecure and these people are better than me and I don't want to ask someone to watch jeremiah while I practice AGAIN and I feel so inexperienced and why do I feel the need to pursue this and and and. And at some points, the ands have to be ignored and put aside and I just have to sing, because it makes me feel like the truest version of myself I've ever known. My complete self is singing with my family and true friends around me, even singing with me. That's why I do this. At least for now. That's why I run after this ridiculous dream that makes me feel foolish - because I would feel empty and useless and even more foolish if I ignored it.

I don't pretend to understand and am not schooled in debate or even average writing skill. I probably couldn't describe this to someone if they were face-to-face with me. But, that's what this blog is for. To put into words why this desire is in me.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

soothsayer

Why is it so hard to hold onto truth? Are humans really that frail that we will believe anything that comes our way, provided we are bombarded with the false information consistently enough? There are so many times that I realize I am feeling depressed and overwhelmed because I believe that others are so disappointed in me, that I am not what I should be for this or that...to the point that I begin to avoid those very people who are clueless as to my change in behavior.

It's all built off of a look...a careless word said...and I am overanalyzing and feeling incredibly vulnerable and crummy and useless to the world. This almost always happens in a work setting. Any work setting. It could be teaching a class or babysitting a child. I take things way too personally and struggle to voice my thoughts because I will be seen as immature and weak.

Why do I believe these lies that Satan puts in my head? Why is it that he can so easily get me to look inward instead of to my Savior who tells me the truth. The truth that I am worthwhile. The truth that it doesn't matter what others think of me anyway...all that matters is looking to His hand for my next step.

It is a weakness of mine. Dependency on others' approval. It affects even my most minute decisions. I thought I had been getting better - having a child makes you care less what others' think - but I think I've just shifted the importance of the thoughts. But they are still others' thoughts. And I place them above what God thinks of me.

"Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies." Romans 8:33

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Comments from voice adjudicators:

pros:

"Good flexiblity and runs"
"Nice rich voice - strong face"
"nice attire"
"lovely, vibrant singing"
"I like your fire in (the Carmen). Nice sense of character"

Cons:

"Don't keep a hairband on your wrist!"
"Try not to sway to the music!"
"Your face was rather blank - show us the joy of (Laudamus Te)"
"Try to keep a smooth vocal line even with that drive (for Carmen)"
"Diction is not good, very swallowed"
"low notes problematic at times"
"don't show us your inner work"
"much more personality in the Bizet"
"keep your body and head still in an oratorio"
"'te' vowel is too dark - keep it forward"
"trills are a bit inaudible"
"keep consonants forward for clearer French"
"not sure Carmen is right for your color and temperament"



Tuesday, June 02, 2009

4th graders interpretation of nudity

my sweet little music kids today. I ask them how their field trip to the Museum of Fine Arts was yesterday and am answered with silence.

"Did you like being there?"

one boy raises his hand, tentatively. "Well, yeah. It was good. There was a lot of nudity."

Silent agreement from his classmates.

"What?"

"You know...there were a lot of statues and paintings...and (makes a gesture as if he was a large chested woman carrying her 'bounty')..."

...at which point, I cease being a mature elementary music teacher and laugh like the twenty-something I don't let myself often be in class. :)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

"Una Voce Poco Fa" - Il Barbieri di Siviglia- Rossini : July 7 Opera Gala Night

"Vanilla Ice Cream" - She Loves Me - Harnick/Bock : July 14 Broadway Night

"Three Little Maids" - Mikado - Gilbert and Sullivan: August 4 Gilbert and Sullivan Night

L. OPERA SUMMER CONCERT SERIES!!! Come hear me sing!


Friday, May 15, 2009

Jesus, You're Beautiful

This song has been stuck in my head for days. And I love it.

My favorite is the Sara Groves' version, but Cece Winans does a great job here.


reflecting...

On May 2, I had an audition with B. Singers Resource - just a general audition in which different opera directors and classical music gurus could come and here the local talent. So, instead of auditioning for a specific part in a specific opera or musical, it was a chance to be heard by a bunch of people who could potentially contact you for something, but you never knew what. The plus side to this organization's annual general auditions is that they bring adjudicators to write comments for you, which they then send you a couple weeks later. This hardly ever (read: never) happens in an audition, so it is a great time to get feedback on what works and what doesn't. If the adjudicators recommend you, you get to continue on to what is called the "select audition" in fall, where there are infinitely more opportunities to be chosen to sing something, but the competition is much more intimidating.

Not that it wasn't intimidating enough for me at the general audition. the auditions were held at a church north of Boston, where there was plenty of space to warm up, but you could hear every note from everyone. There were some really great mezzo-soprano voices that I heard. I tried to put it out of my head, knowing that everyone has their own voice, and I should not try to sound like anyone but me, doing the best I can with what I know, technically and musically. Sometimes it's hard to remember that when so many of the other mezzos I was hearing had some serious low range that I just don't have - and other companies are looking for pretty specifically. I put it out of my head and concentrated on warming up for the 4th time that morning.

I had 4 minutes. I chose to sing the second half of two pieces: "Laudamus Te" from Mozart's Mass in C Minor, and "Seguidilla" from Bizet's Carmen. Neither of them easy pieces, it took all my will to ignore all the factors that would distract around me and focus on how I would sing these without a freakout session.

I went to an upstairs room to warm up and felt the familiar butterflies starting...I willed myself to continue my scales and focus on what I felt vocally as I sang - which felt pretty good. It was a battle of the nerves at this point. In the past, I had let my nerves control my singing. This was getting better with each performance...there had even been times in the past few years where I didn't even feel nervous and sang really well. I hoped this would be one of those times.

I went downstairs and was told I was up next, was I ready? Sure, I replied, and proceeded to talk to poor girl's ear off as I followed her into the green room. She gave little understanding remarks "yeah, I've been there too", "It'll be fine." I finally shut up and tried to concentrate on being...er, looking composed for the adjudicators.

I walked in, greeted the accompanist and adjudicators warmly, they responded in kind (good sign) and I sang. I really don't think I let my nerves affect me too badly. Both went pretty well. The "Seguidilla" was a risk, because the way I've been singing it, and feel it should be sung, has an earthy quality to it - which is not always a 'pretty' sound. But, I think, and my voice teacher agrees, it is effective in communicating the who the character, Carmen, is. Anyway, I sang, hit the crazy high B at the end of the Bizet piece, they smiled, and I left.

The best I was hoping for was a recommendation to the Select Auditions. I really didn't think anyone would contact me to sing for anything this summmer or next fall.

But, three days ago, I got an email. It was from the General Director of Longwood Opera, asking me if I would consider participating in their Summer Concert Series. This is the perfect "first step" for me, since I have never sung a role, never really sung anything that hasn't involved my college in some way. I was ecstatic, emailed him the concerts I could do, and am penciled in for 4 different dates this summer!

I still haven't received my comments from the adjudicators, but am excited to read their thoughts, since I feel I sang an accurate representation of what I usually sing, despite the pressure of the audition. But, even if they didn't like me, I feel affirmed in my desire to pursue singing, because I finally have an offer to sing somewhere. I have been praying a lot about this, and I think God is giving me the push to press on.

Thank you, Lord!

Friday, May 01, 2009

yeah, but in real life that would never happen... ;)

this is absolutely amazing. So many times, my friends and I would discuss the possibility of "spontaneous song and dance" a la musical...well, here it is. This is a pretty sizable group of entertainers surprising the commuters around them. I love it.



Monday, April 27, 2009

let's commemorate every little thing in the children's lives

My little 4th graders are singing in a "moving on" ceremony at the end of this school year, and I have to come up with two songs for them to perform for the parents. I think these kinds of things are a little ridiculous anyway, but I think I came up with a sweet song for them to sing. It's a song called "In my Life" by a little band called the Beatles...maybe you've heard of them? :) I just had my first practice with one of the 4th grade classes, and they are going to be so sweet sounding when they sing it. I love it already.

The other song we are doing is partly a lyricist project. I'm going to take a strophic folk song and have them make up the words for the story, telling about their time in school up to this point. I don't really know if this is a good idea or not, but I hope we will be able to pull it off appropriately.

Gotta go, time for 3rd grade.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

random thoughts

I wish I was a good writer. I think about it too little, where other people think about it often, making mental notes and phrasings about their thoughts. I think I am just a little too artsy to make my thoughts form more intelligible sentences. Like that, right there. Is "intelligible" even a word? I would think not, but I like how it sounds, and I tend to write how I think anyway.

Here are my thoughts lately, in completely unpredictable order:

1. I am sometimes glad, and sometimes sad, that I am not a high school music teacher.

2. I need to learn a mezzo-soprano aria in German...which is not easy to find. I finally found one, and it is apparantly so rare that there is no recording for it. But it looks amazing. Nancy's aria from Martha by Flotow. It wasn't originally in the score, but was written for the original singer to show off. And it is most definitely showy.

3. I think I am singing really well. I am starting to get a list together for my audition rep for a masters program.

4. I am sometimes scared that I am really not that good a singer, and other people are being gracious by letting me sing at different events. Maybe I am ordinary after all. That is a big fear.

5. It was wonderful to go to a different church service this week. I need to worship with music, and our church is sorely lacking in this department. It was great to sing praise songs and listen to high schoolers sing, and get lost in praising God with song.

6. I just finished reading Ezra in the Bible. I had no idea it was that short. It has been interesting reading through the Old Testament...it has stirred me to see God's love and grace through all it's pages in ways that I never saw before.

7. It is very hard to make leftovers usable for other meals. It takes a lot of creativity...the kind that I'm not sure I possess, but I try. Right now i have a TON of leftovers in our fridge that I'm not sure I can re-use, but am trying to be resourceful. Tonight, its beef stew.

That's all. Goodnight all, whoever you may be. Give a shout out if you read this!


Monday, April 13, 2009

let the little children come unto me...

So very often I am reminded of the very scary reality that the kids we raise/babysit/teach are in our care, and also, that the time we spend with them is infused with a trust that we know how to take care of them. Today, I was running a rehearsal with the entire 4th grade, most of them up on the (rather low) risers in our all-purpose room. We have an important concert this coming Thursday, and we have a couple hard songs that desperately needed practice.

The students were very well-behaved, all things considered. Take into consideration, for example, that we had more than a dozen percussion instruments playing during one song. Take into consideration that we only had 20 minutes to practice once they got set on the risers. And take into consideration the student who blacked out and fell off the back of the risers in the middle of the second song.

Yes, I had a minor casualty today during my chorus rehearsal...the 4th grade boy fell off the risers with a resounding "Boom!" and was not concious when he was first reached. When he did come to, he was not himself, and had an irregular heartbeat. The ambulance was called, his mother (who was frantic!) rushed over, and he was loaded into the ambulance. I have since found out that he is ok, it was a case of him doing too much this week so far (three sports started this week) and not eating enough at breakfast and lunch.

And probably the fact that he was squished on a high riser next to 80 other 4th graders in a hot all-purpose room with his knees locked. That was the straw that broke his back...although he did not break his back, praise the LORD.

Needless to say, I was quite upset, and trying to stay calm. Many other teachers were in the rehearsal with me, and were able to get help, but still a scary situation. This kid has always been a hard case for me - sarcastic, edgy, and distant in class. It was weird to see all those defenses come down and see him really scared. And he was.

As teachers, we are entrusted with these children...and as parents, it is scary to think of someone else watching our kid if something happens. But, our kids will usually have other people watching them, and we need to be able to let them go and trust God that He knows their every day. I can't imagine being that students mother and getting the call that he is getting loaded into an ambulance and can you meet us at the hospital? And the look in that kid's eyes as he watched us all watch over him - until the perimedics got there - was beyond words. He was terrified and trying to trust us that it would be ok. What an awesome responsibility we have to children to help them feel safe, even if we don't always know what to do, or what the answer is. Sometimes I am really scared of when Jeremiah starts talking and reasoning and thinking more like a child, then an adolescent, then an adult...how will I answer him? How will I do this so I don't screw him up and make him need therapy to discover it's all my fault he is the way he is?

Ok, that's melodramatic, but I think any mother out there would admit to somewhat similar thoughts in her darker moments.

The answer is always God...but sometimes it's hard to remember that. God give me grace to watch over your little ones.