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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Having a Spiritual...No, MUSICAL...Oh, Whatever you call it, EXPERIENCE

This past Wednesday, I went to choir rehearsal, as I sometimes do.  Honestly, I don't like most of the music, but the conductor is a fantastic musician whom I believe could make a toad sing.  Anything written by Carol Cymbala gives me chills, and I like it because it makes me feel good.  I looked through my folder this week and saw a piece of music with a four part vocal score and piano accompaniment.  I was almost afraid to look. Could it be something I actually like singing??  My heart starts racing as I look to the top center to see the name of the work: Hallelujah from The Mount of Olives.  I'm sure I turned fifty shades of red as I looked to the upper right corner (you know, where the composer is listed) and saw the name Ludwig van Beethoven.  I saw the first line of lyrics and instantly remembered this work!  Never mind that I haven't seen this music in about 25 years.  I remembered it, and it seemed to remember me.  I could sing those repetitive "high" notes without any difficulty (prior to 2012, I would have not used that descriptor about those notes), and my "A" was only a little flat.  I saw that bit of Beethoven as a precious gift to me; as an unexpected reunion of two old friends. We were just getting reacquainted.

I reposted a cartoon from Eric Whitacre on my Facebook page.  It is one where the composer (who looks like a cross between Snoopy and Greg Brady) needs a long rest.  Snoopy Greg gave himself 18 bars and was refreshed.  I have been following this guy on FB because I like his posts.  They are witty.  I had no idea who he was.  I just thought he was some pop musician I hadn't heard of.  A friend  posted a photo of herself conducting one of his works.  WHAT??  I went straight to youtube to investigate.  WHAT???  I have been missing this?  Harmony. Dissonance.  Dissonant Harmony? Yes! It felt as though I had been given another gift.  This is work that I would sing, and it makes me feel good.  Good music sends me to a place where I'm transcendent.  It makes me feel as if there is hope for the most difficult things to be accomplished (like that maybe Congress would actually act in the best interests of the American people?).  I joke about Congress, but I remember them standing shoulder to shoulder all singing, "God Bless America" after 9/11, and I know that as much as the emotion of tragedy can unite people, the expression of that unity during that time came through music.  (For example, the first public work done in New York after this 9/11 was Brahms' Requiem).

The power in stepping outside of myself  that is delivered on the wings of this music gives me hope for the most unlikely things.  To pull sounds like this out of the air, to think in chord structures, in melody lines, and to balance all of that brings together the concrete and the etheric where the earth meets the sky.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Spiritual Restlessness and Singing

As I listen to an interview with Sue Monk Kidd, I understand the restlessness she described going through.  She felt out of place being a nurse.  Although I am much happier and have been told that I am doing a great job working in hospice, something about that statement from her still resonates with me.  I feel that I can do this job and still be true to who I am (I could not go back to the hospital and feel the same way), but it seems that there is more to life than work.  And more to life than religion.  Singing always made me happy, from the days of standing on a stool and singing into a hairbrush or singing into the handle of the vacuum cleaner to singing in a recital hall, Bass Hall, Carnegie Hall, and Vienna.  Although I don't have the same vocal ability as I had before my wreck, the music calls.  The creativity calls.  It occurs to me that, for me, to sing again requires courage.  To open my mouth and let the voice find its place and to allow it to resonate where it will is painful when I am used to judging every sound that comes out.  Is the pitch correct?  Is the support in place?  Is the sound resonant and beautiful?  The answer to all of those is sometimes.  Can I be kind enough to myself to remain nonjudgemental and to love who I am when the sound isn't so pretty?  Why is there shame in making errors?  It isn't a sin to miss a note.  Singers rehearse to learn, polish, correct, and to own the work that is being sung.  Wrong notes happen in that process, and no one gets hurt (not really, lol). Being less than confident in my ability (to learn, to read the music, and to sing) is a disservice to me and to those with whom I sing. To continue requires the heart of a lion.

Like Sue Monk Kidd, I think that I am a good, caring nurse who does my best for my patients.  I still wonder if becoming a nurse was showing a lack of bravery.  I chose this because I needed a job and knew I could do it.  There was never a doubt about my ability to understand the concepts necessary to become a nurse and to pass the licensure exam.  It wasn't exactly easy, but it was do-able.  I have enough empathy and compassion for others to take care of them.  As taking care of patients really is not about me, neither is continuing to sing and to follow the calling of the more creative path that calls to me.  I'm a small part of a large planet, and I hope to continue to have enough personal fortitude to continue to sing my part.