Random Blog Clay Feet: 2011-06
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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Upcoming Director

A week ago my wife and I went to the last practice of the Barbershop Chorus I am a part of before their annual show last weekend. Since I was not singing in the show we decided to sit in on the dress rehearsal which would be the next best thing to attending. At the end of each rehearsal every week it is a tradition worldwide for Barbershop choruses to sing the anthem of the society, “Keep the Whole World Singing”. Our director usually selects someone from the group to direct it and the chorus usually pays close attention to that director to follow whatever they might do in their leading of the song.

In the past when I have been chosen I have usually made the song rather unexpected which requires the men to watch quite closely to my directing. Since I have not been to practice much over the past couple months I suspected in my mind that he might select me to direct the song. I said to myself that if he chose me to do it I would get my wife to do it in my place.

Sure enough, the director asked me to lead the song so I turned to my wife and invited her to lead it in my place. She was extremely reluctant and embarrassed to be so assertive in front of so many people, but upon a little physical coaxing and encouragement from the men she finally stood up to direct.

Since she has never done anything like this before and had no idea of what is involved in directing a chorus and didn't even know the song, she asked me what she should do. I told her to just wave her arms around and see what might happen.

Sure enough, as soon as she began moving her arms the men began singing the song according to her gestures. She seemed rather shocked and sometimes just stood there while they were stuck holding a note. I had to encourage her to keep moving her hands so they could finish the song. It was all very interesting and after the song we all gave her a standing ovation. (Well, they were all standing anyway)

If any of you like to sing I would encourage you to check into finding a Barbershop or Sweet Adelines (the female counterpart) chorus in your area and at least listen to a practice or concert. These societies are open, relaxed and have a lot of fun together. Its also a great place to make friends and improve your musical abilities. You don't have to feel obligated to be a professional but if you want to learn they are always teaching skills that can help you learn how to be a better singer.

For more information or to find a chorus in your area you can visit their worldwide web site at Barbershop.org.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

On That Note

We are blessed to be able to live out in the country. Because of that we are much more aware of the rhythms of nature, and this year is one of those rare moments that only happens every seven years. This is the year we get to enjoy the serenade of the cicadas.

It began with many small holes suddenly appearing in the ground around our yard. It almost looks like someone fired at the ground with a large caliber machine gun in places. The cicadas emerge from their underground hiding places once every seven years to take over the surroundings by storm. I have recently heard stories about campers being overwhelmed with cicadas covering their food within minutes after placing it on the picnic table. We have not seen near that many here, but our dog has enjoyed a few as tasty morsels on his daily walks occasionally.
The other morning as I listened to the constant singing of these cicadas I decided to guess what note they were singing, what pitch they were using as they all sang in close unison all through the surrounding woods. I guessed that it might be the note A, but after checking it on the piano I discovered it to be E instead. So much for perfect pitch on my part, huh.

Today we noticed in the times we spent outside (though it was a very hot day) that there is another competing, or complimentary, chorus in concert with the cicadas. The tree frogs have their own symphony going on that is different than the constant note of the cicadas. Their song intensifies and diminishes in a cycle with no distinct note like the other background song of the cicadas.

It reminds me of the truth that “all nature sings and around me rings the music of the spheres. This is my Father's world...” I am gladdened by the songs of the birds that arrange their wake-up chorus of intense praise early in the morning, though we don't hear it too well with the windows closed. The cheerful expressions and colors of the Oriels when they come to the hummingbird feeder brighten our day on occasion and the buzzing and chirping of the many cute hummingbirds and their occasional dive-bombing over our heads when we walk by are reminders of a Father's love for beauty and variety.

Of course there are uncomfortable things in nature that remind us that sin has marred many things. The deer flies that attack us when we walk the dog present daily challenges to keep our head covered while still having to flap our arms around gracelessly as we walk down the road. But it is still better to be close to nature and away from the many distractions and isolation from much in nature that those living in town experience.

This year we will enjoy the cicada's songs for as long as they last. I'm not sure how long they sing for, but it is not very often that they come around so we will enjoy them and remember them after they are gone in anticipation for their next grand appearance in another seven years.