January 16th, 2017


Back to Writer Mode

After spending a couple of days playing musician, I’m back to writer mode, and I don’t get a holiday today because I have a deadline.

It was a good weekend, though a bit tiring. I’m not used to having to get up early and get across town — into the real city — first thing in the morning and then sit in meetings all day to then drive home in evening rush hour, being around people that whole time. They’re nice people and fun people and I’m doing stuff I love, but it’s still crowded and noisy and active. In the sessions on dealing with preschoolers, there’s a lot of physical activity because we have to do the stuff we’re going to have to teach. Then there are sightreading sessions where it’s kind of challenging reading music I’ve never seen before and I feel self conscious about not being a truly trained professional musician when I’m surrounded by professionals. One interesting thing I got out of the weekend was a good voice lesson. On Saturday, I had a slot where I’d gone to the session that interested me on Friday (they do the same schedule both days, so you can do multiple things) and there wasn’t anything else that really applied, and someone I sat with at lunch suggested I go to the session on youth choir just because the instructor was so good. It was on developing musicianship, and that’s a weakness of mine, as I never really learned music theory. He was talking about how to teach music theory for choir members, but I was picking up how I could go about learning music theory. I enjoyed hearing him speak so much, and I had reached information overload about preschool stuff, so I stayed for his last session, on developing the individual voice. His premise was that it’s not a great idea to tell a whole choir they should be doing something, technique-wise. The ones who are doing it wrong don’t think they’re doing it wrong, so most of them won’t correct it, and it tends to be the ones who are doing it right who are worried about doing it right and will try to correct it (and probably overcorrect), which means they’ll end up doing it wrong. The result of telling the whole choir to make a correction is generally the whole choir ending up being wrong. He said directors should listen and pay attention to what each person is doing and make individual corrections. There were only four people in this session, since it was the end of the workshop, so he demonstrated on us, having us all sing something, and then giving individual corrections. I turned out to have been the overcorrector in the group. It was obvious that I’d taken a very common group instruction, since it addresses a problem that’s very likely, and overdone it to the point I was wrong. Now I have to work on fixing that bad habit, and I know to ignore it when the choir director tells everyone to do a particular thing.

Then last night we had some nasty storms. I was watching PBS when the neighborhood tornado sirens went off, my weather radio went off, and PBS dropped audio to play a weather warning, so I switched over to a local station showing the radar. When I saw that the storm track included my specific neighborhood, I put on my “real” shoes and started preparing my safe space, putting a towel in the bathtub to lie on and getting the old featherbed ready to pull over me. I lucked out because just before the questionable part of the storm got to my area, the squall line caught up to it and the tornado risk dropped. We had gusty winds and a lot of rain, but no tornado. It was just rather unnerving having those sirens going for about half an hour. We got enough rain to test the repairs on my house, and I can’t detect any dampness, so now I get to fight with the HOA about getting the interior repaired and doing some mold remediation.

But first, I have a book to finish, and it’s going to be a close call to meet the deadline, so work, work, work.