I spent Friday and Saturday at a church music workshop. Friday, I went to sessions about teaching young children, and I think I've found some keys to working with my crazy bunch. The teacher had some great ideas for encouraging reluctant kids to sing, which is the problem I have this year. There are all kinds of little steps you can take to gradually increase their comfort level. One big change I'll have to make is to sing to them rather than with them. I can model the song to them to teach it, but then I need to back out and let them sing it on their on. If I'm singing, they'll just listen to me or they'll think no one will notice if they don't sing, and it then sounds weird to them to sing in church when I'm not singing with them. It's so obvious, but it hadn't occurred to me.
Saturday, I went to sessions on vocal health. They had a speech pathologist who specializes in the voice presenting (from the med school where I used to work), and while a lot of it wasn't new info, I picked up some good warm ups and exercises that will be great for me as a singer, but that I think I can also introduce to the kids as games. I was sitting next to my choir director in these workshops, so we were comparing notes and sharing our findings Sunday morning.
In between, they have reading sessions where everyone sat in the chapel, and they passed out packets of music that we all then sang together. I think the main idea is to help choir directors hear music they might want to use while also getting to see how various guest conductors conduct, but for me, it's exercise in sight reading, and since you don't sit in sections, it forces you to not lean on the other people around you. It can be scary when you can't hear anyone else singing your part (and especially when you're singing soprano, so it's very exposed), and it's a little intimidating for me because most of the people in the room are choir directors and professional singers, while I'm there as someone who volunteers with children's choir. But I think I held my own pretty well.
I love this workshop so much that it's one of the reasons I keep on as a children's choir director.
Now, though, I'm back in writer mode. One thing I learned from the vocal health sessions was that, although overuse is more of a problem for most of their patients, non-use is also an issue, so I need to make a point of talking or singing during the day. My pattern of silence Monday and Tuesday, then lots of singing Wednesday, mostly silence Thursday and Friday, some talking Saturday (depending on my social schedule), and then singing Sunday isn't good for me. I need to do a little each day. Since I start Requiem rehearsals with the community chorus tonight, that will add a little more singing to the mix.
So, maybe I should do more brainstorming out loud. I have a medical recommendation to talk to myself. I suspect that talking to imaginary people is okay. I'll just need different medical help if they answer out loud.