I continue to feel that playing in a room where ballet is being taught is a good thing for me. It is so refreshing that music is actually important to the teachers and students. It’s important to me of course. And I tend to exist in the world of sound, especially my improvisations. But I don’t focus on the listener. Usually this is a good thing because oftentimes people are not listening that closely. But self-conscious improvising or performing is never the best kind, anyway. Better to lose yourself in the magic and ideas. Then something happens. I’m not used to having others in that kind of space with me and I quite like it.
Today I am attending a short workshop at Hope college, “Approaches and Techniques to Improve Choral Ensembles.”
The presenter, James Jordan, is a clinician and author. I have read several of his books and also admire his fellow choral pedagogist, Frauke Haasemann.
I especially like his book, The Musician’s Soul.
Here’s a quote to give you an idea of why I found this book meaningful.
One’s center is the internal focus of one’s being. It is the place where the experiences of one’s entire life reside, but are not compacted down. Those life events both happy and sad are the place from which truthful music grows and is nurtured… Center is the place by which you stay both connected to the ground and the earth, and to the world around you. To be alive, you must always be aware of your center…
How does one access center? One accesses center by being in a state of total awareness.
Okay it’s a bit cosmic but it’s that kind of book. It’s full of wonderful quotes from all kinds of thinkers and creative people historical and alive. Also exercises that I worked through when I read the book (around 2000?).
I discovered Jordan through studying Haasemann who died in 1991.
Her philosophy and ideas jump started my post grad work as a conductor. This little book above is one I consult constantly when I am thinking about vocalese.
I then picked up on Jordan when I purchased and began using the above book (which came with a video I still own).
Then I started reading Jordan.
My copy is not this fancy looking. It looks more like this:
Anyway it’s been a long time since I’ve been in a room with musicians that are interested in choral conducting. I’m tired today and would just as soon skip it, but I can’t let myself.
I am having mixed feelings about Hope College. Since arriving here in 1987, I have been pretty much below the radar of the people at this school. The faces of the teachers have changed. In some cases they are more tolerant and open. But in others it’s a classic system situation where a sick system seeks members that will perpetuate it’s little sick dance.
I am weirdly much more at home in the dance department than I ever could be in this music department. It’s a moot thought because I think I am sort of type cast as that elderly weird guy who doesn’t seem to make much sense and is kind of a third rate musician. So be it.
Who ever said I was coherent? or a first rate musician? Hey I’m glad to be who I am.
Having said that, the introvert in me dreads rubbing shoulders with some of these people. The last time I went to an American Guild of Organist meeting at this college, I was actually sort of snubbed. Like I say, weird.
But the more common sense me knows that there is a high chance that not only will this be a meaningful workshop, but the people I see will probably be gracious and friendly.