Monday, January 19, 2015

Art Immersion

And we have yet another weekend I need a weekend to recover from. I could claim today as a holiday, since it technically is one, but I took Thursday off already and I have a lot to catch up on.

Thursday I did actually make it to the art museum. I don't know if it was just that it was a big exhibit or if it was that it was the last two weeks of the exhibit, but the museum was really crowded. I didn't spend all that much time in the big exhibit, just enough to revel in being that close to works by Degas, Monet and Renoir. Then I scooted over to the permanent collection in the museum's original building, which was a lot more peaceful, and I got to spend a lot of time up close with the works, including a small painting that may have been Michelangelo's first painting, from when he was around 12 or 13. That was rather mindblowing to contemplate. The big exhibit was on Impressionism, and while I went for the Degas dancers (they only had one of those), I ended up spending more time contemplating the clothing in the paintings with my steampunk work in mind.

Then it was two days of workshops for church music leaders. I spent Friday in sessions aimed at working with preschoolers. We had a smallish group, so there was a lot of discussion, with ideas being exchanged. When I got to our room early for one of the afternoon sessions, I chatted some with the workshop speaker, and she said I should be doing this full-time because I clearly understood children. Just the thought of spending more than 45 minutes a week with a room full of small children gave me a panic attack -- probably because I do understand them. Saturday I went to two sessions with a children's choir director -- the more serious musical kind, not the play around with small children kind. She'd worked in schools, in churches and in an auditioned city choir. I probably learned more about singing than about directing a choir from those sessions because my kids aren't quite yet at that level, but I did get some ideas. For the last session, I went to one just for my own interest on building a choir. I got some great feedback on tone, etc. (it was a small audience, I was sitting in front, and the speaker ended up mostly directing everything at me), but also got some ideas for things I could do with the kids. Then he did this really interesting exercise on arranging singers in a choir, which I had to be one of the demonstration examples for. He had a group of us line up, then sing in groups of three, and then he'd rearrange us and try with another group of three until he had us arranged in the best way. The result was almost magical. It was eerie the difference it made, both in the sound and in the way it felt. My choir director was also in this workshop, so I have a feeling I know what's coming Wednesday night. There may be a revolt because most people sit next to their friends. I'll be curious to see how this works. I tend to try to sit next to the people who feel right when we sing, regardless of social considerations, so we'll see if I've been choosing correctly.

In between those workshop sessions, they had "reading" sessions in which they passed out packets of music chosen by the various clinicians, who then led all the attendees in singing them. I think the idea was to expose choir directors to different pieces of music that they might then purchase for their choirs (I was sitting near my choir director, and he kept marking or folding down pages -- I made sure to let him know when I liked something). I found it valuable practice in sight reading and forcing myself to be more confident. I felt a bit out of my league surrounded by people who do this for a living and who have degrees in music, when I'm a volunteer with little "formal" musical training, just school band, church choir and a few community college music classes here and there. It was also weird not sitting by section, so I wasn't necessarily bolstered by other people singing the same part. I did get to sing first soprano, for a change, since I figured that parts weren't being assigned and I wasn't obligated to sing second. I got to bust out a high B-flat at the end of the last song, and some of the people sitting in front of me turned to give me thumbs up, and a few people approached me later to comment on me being the one with the B-flat. I got to act modest and say that in my choir I'm a second soprano. I was sitting next to my choir director, but I don't know if he caught the joke and the implication of what that said about our choir.

Then Sunday was a gorgeous day, so I went for a nice, long walk in the woods.

Now I have to catch up on housework (my kitchen got very messy) and regular work and get back in the swing of things.

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