The Quotable Floyd, part III

Well, friends, I’ve avoided my blog for several weeks now; and would be content to keep avoiding it, were it not for the incredibly quotable Floyd. I simply cannot resist sharing this semester’s quotes from Choral Society. As always, I do promise to share my thoughts about the concert weekend at another time, and I do encourage you to go back and read Floyd’s Quotes, part I and part II. Without further adieu, I give you the Fall 2013 Floyd Quotes.

This must be good! I have a power point clicker!

They look good. The Choir In My Head sings them really well.

Tenors, if it’s too low, just look like you’re humming.

No tongue lifts.

Relax the collision.

6/8 is a rhythm pit.

I heard s-words.

11/8 — it’s slowing down; who cares how many beats there are? Don’t count.

We’re going to fermataize.

You’ve gotta breathe sooner than you must for life.

If you can’t be forgiven in a choir, there’s no forgiveness for you.

O come, all ye faithful, lalalalala, Amen. That’s the Reader’s Digest version.

Sing in English or Latin as you wish.

There should be a fermata. If you keep your eyes open, I’ll actually show it to you.

I have nightmares about 6/8 carols.

I’m going to do the music there, not the notes.

Thank you for being wrong with me in unison.

You’re different from everyone else. But you’re Altos. That explains everything.

Oh my gosh! I thought that would be pretty! It is!

I wrote down “slower.” I hope this is the slower I meant.

I release you from any note-reading responsibilities.

You must fight for your right to sing C.

Virgin Mary had a baby boy? Have the boy later.

You’re still trying to read the notes, aren’t you? Stop that.

Please make sure your “w” has a pitch.

Big space. Big open hole. Look through there before you go on.

Take your legato engine and stop it.

It’s a vowelless sound.

We are the singers who sing “duh.”

Relax the Men.

Hum in Polish.

I will not do the proper tempo, apparently.

About 80% of this piece is entirely logical.

There’s no way I’m going to conduct this one steady. Completely not steady.

I think I will always conduct 8th notes. Except when I don’t.

I may not do what you think I’m going to do.

Do more like you did before, but not quite.

The Choir In My Head has perfect legato.

A comma isn’t a comma unless I say it is a comma.

Make it sound important.

I’m gonna sleep on my tempo.

I recommend more air. At every moment.

I wish I knew what I was doing.

Allegretto? I don’t think so. For reading, we’re going to do slow-o.

Those chords are so interesting. Why should we go through them at 40 miles per hour?

I’m gonna be releasing some energy right there.

You’re all by yourself. Except when you split. Then you’re yourself and a half.

Kris: We’re doing so well they shut the door.

Nameless Soprano: Can we keep singing this til we get to Jesus?

Nameless Choir Member: Where are we not supposed to breathe?  Floyd: Anywhere.

Wow! I didn’t realize Floyd gave me so many quotes this semester. It sure was fun! If you live in the Marquette area, please join us for Spring rehearsals. Contact me for details. :)

Pax Christi.

Sarah

Watch Floyd

Watch Floyd.

Or…Look Up.

Or…Fix Your Eyes.

Or…”Then Let All the Living.”

I can’t decide on an appropriate title for this blog. There are so many good choices.

In just under two weeks time, the Marquette Choral Society will be performing our spring concert. I can’t wait to tell you about it. I think I love this music even more than I loved the music last spring. I feel connected to this program for a few different reasons, but I won’t bore you with those details tonight. In two weeks, I promise to share my thoughts about the concert, the material, and (best of all) my Floyd quotes from the semester. It hardly seems like we can be so close to performance…

Anyway, I had something of a revelation last night during rehearsal. We are singing several incredible (and difficult) pieces of music (those Germans know how to write a hymn, yo). We were working on a piece from one of my newest favorites, Heinrich Schutz, entitled, “Dank sagen wir alle Gott”–or, We Offer Our Thanks. It’s a beautiful hymn in a sort of flowing 6/4 time.

At least, the first page is. I confess that I’ve been struggling with measure 11. It’s right there on the page, easy as can be–a half note (two beats), then a quarter rest and half rest (three beats of silence), and a quarter note (one beat). It doesn’t sound hard, does it? The two notes are even the same pitch, so there is absolutely nothing about this measure that should be difficult. All semester as we’ve worked on this, I’ve chided myself: “If you were able to sing the 7/8 song last semester, and Zadok with the organ the semester before that, there’s no way you aren’t going to master this simple measure.”

Yet…I struggle. Why?

Well, I could tell you it’s because of the page turn. That could be part of it. I’m not turning soon enough. I could also tell you it’s because this nice flowing piece of music, beginning with that last quarter note of the measure, suddenly moves. And I could tell you that I’m not being diligent about counting my rests, so I’m not hitting the quarter note with anything that could be mistaken for confidence. It could be that I’m still feeling “new” to the piece, and the movement of the next page still catches me off guard. I could tell you that I’m not breathing when I should. All of these things, I suppose, are true; but none of them (individually or together) are the reason I struggle with this measure.

And I realized that quite clearly last night when I did everything right–the counting, the breathing, the page turn, the expectation of the next page. I had it, folks. I was there, I was ready, and still–I missed it. How did I miss it?

I know I wasn’t the only one because Floyd stopped us and made us do it again. And as I sat there, wondering how in the world I was going to conquer this measure–this stupid little measure that was half silence–I had a brilliant idea. “Stop trying to figure it out,” I said to myself, “and just watch Floyd.”

The amazing part about it is that even as I forced myself to not look at the music, to turn the page a measure earlier than normal and fix my eyes on Floyd, I have to confess to you that there was an enormous part of me that didn’t expect anything to happen. I’m embarrassed to tell you that it surprised me when Floyd gave me my breath, and my cue, and by gosh, if he wasn’t movin’ to the rhythm of the page turn in expectation of what we were barrelling into!

It shocked me.

It shouldn’t have.

Poor Floyd, who tells us week after week, “Watch me.” Poor, poor Floyd. Hahaha.

I just had to laugh at myself. Of course the answer is to watch my director. What’s really amazing is that I knew it all along. I pride myself in watching Floyd, in paying attention when he’s talking, in following his lead. But me, in my pride, in my folly…do I trust him when I am faced with something I am struggling with that I shouldn’t be struggling with? Nope; I decide I’m going to conquer it alone, rather than trust the man at the front of the room who really knows where we’re going.

It reminded me of the verse in Hebrews that tells us to fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith. How often do we try to conquer situations and emotions on our own? Even when we have all the particulars analyzed and figured out, even after we’ve counted every beat of silence, we blunder; we step without confidence; we don’t anticipate the page turn. Christ knows exactly where He’s leading each one of us, and if we could but turn our face toward Him and trust Him to lead us, we would excel through the most difficult situations.

“Then let all the living, then let all the living join with the angels’ shouts of thanksgiving, thanksgiving.”

God bless you this week as you learn to fix your eyes on Christ.

Pax Christi.
Sarah

The Quotable Floyd

The Quotable Floyd

or…What I learned at Choral Society…
or……Take a breath!
 

I am a quote junky. It’s true. Words inspire me. I love to be surrounded by words and quotes and ideas–even when they aren’t serious in nature, statements can be fascinating, can evoke strong response.

Our Fearless Leader is uncommonly quotable. Last semester, I had the idea to write quotes in the margins of my music wherever we happen to be working when Floyd said something that inspired or humored me. I, unfortunately, erased many of the remarks I had quoted from our Spring rehearsals, but here are a few from this Winter. These all pertain to music (to choral music, specifically), but several can apply to life in general. Regardless, I hope this gives you a taste of how much fun we have at Choral Society.

There’s no shame in having no E, Basses. 

Turn to “ding.” 

If I give a cue and no one sees it, is there even a conductor? 

Make spacious vowels.

Seek verbal enlightenment.

Sopranos, you may roll in like a Mack truck.

Are you ready to accent your yums?

There’s a breath there; take it.

Eyes are good at cues.

Don’t turn the page and lose your pulse.

You are allowed to have fun in a minor key.

It’s hard to say which quote is my favorite. I’m partial to each! Still, I think especially in light of this Advent, we should encourage one another to breathe. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in the stuff of our culture (and even the stuff of our traditions) that we forget to pause, to breathe, to take the moment of the incarnation and let it bring life and rest to our souls. Somewhere, friends, in the midst of the busyness and the beautifulness of this holiday, I pray that you’ll realize…there’s a breath there; take it.

Pax Christi!

Bob Moore

I don’t usually name names, but in this case I have to make an exception.

The other day, Mom, Jer, and I were driving and an old favorite hymn came on the radio–When We All Get to Heaven. As I listened, I got this mental image of the old days at the old Tab with the old pews (I miss the pews!), when Bob Moore would lead us in singing a few hymns before we moved on to choruses. He would stand up at the pulpit (yep, we had a pulpit, too) and lead us as if we were storming Heaven. Bob would raise his hands and his voice and the spirit of the congregation. And he had (has) one of those voices that just rings out so clear and resonant and strong–I always secretly wanted to have them turn off the pulpit mic and see if Bob still had the best volume in the church. Ten to one says he would have.

But there was something in this song that triggered another memory of Bob’s leading. If you know this song, you know that there’s a beautiful harmonic echo on the chorus, and Bob used to sing it. How odd, that the leader would sing a line of harmony! Yet, now as I think about it, I think Bob used to do that on a pretty regular basis.

This is the musical intelligence I was watching and listening to as a child. Not just someone who knows how to read music or even knows how to lead a group of singers; but someone who truly enjoyed singing and praising God, who had lungs (and control) that could outsing the rest of us, who trusted the intelligence of the congregation enough that he could stray from the melody and harmonize with us.

I remember you, Bob. Whether you meant to or not, you shaped my view of worship, music, hymns, and thus–of theology, and God Himself. I can never thank you enough, but with the approach of Thanksgiving, I am compelled to say it anyway: Thank you.

Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, keep singing.

Ode to Joe Plantt

It’s Joe’s fault.

Every so often, I play through my binder of songs, looking specifically for songs written in the same month of years past. I’m not sure why, but I enjoy it. It amazes me to think about where I’ve been, what I’ve struggled with, what I’ve enjoyed, what I was passionate about, et cetera.

But tonight, my startling revelation is that there are no songs of August.

That’s not entirely true. There is one in particular, but it is a very personal therapy sort of song. I don’t think I’ve ever shared it with anyone. I doubt I ever will. And there are a handful of others…but they are Joe Plantt’s fault.

In 2001, I became aware of this young man. I don’t recall that I met him, but that he was a friend of a friend (heh…that’s funny because of the song) and a friend of my brother. There was this incredible story about how he dropped his guitar and snapped the neck, and his solution was, to be sure, duct tape.

I was not nearly so uptight as I am now, in my elder years of almost-thirty, and to be honest with you, he was cute enough that I forgave the impropriety of the duct tape on an instrument. I went home and wrote the most ridiculous two-stanza-ed song I’ve ever heard in my life about Joe Plantt and his guitar, titled “Ode to Joe Plantt.”

When I shared it with my friends, they enjoyed it so much that I began to write these cheesy, short songs about people–or written around some weird statement they’d made (like Rachel, who was telling me about her first car, and said, “It’s nothing fancy–just a four-door, car-car,”).

But the beauty of it (which I hadn’t realized until today) is that several of them were written in August. So not only do I not have any real songs of August…I have to admit that August is the month of the Joe Plantt-inspired songs.

It’s Joe’s fault.

Long Lost

What are your long lost passions?

A long lost friend (who shall remain nameless) asked me recently what my song lyrics are looking like lately. It shocked and embarrassed me.

It shocked me because…nobody really asks me that anymore. Well, John asks what I’ve been doing with music, but he doesn’t specifically ask about lyrics. It just struck me as awkward, and then I remembered that there was a time when many friends and family were asking (regularly) what I was doing with songwriting. It shocked me that this friend asked; and it shocked me that I was shocked.

And then I was embarrassed to realize that I have allowed this once profound passion of mine to simmer on the back burner of my not-very-demanding life. Did I used to love songwriting? Why had I stopped?

Oh, I wrote one this year…about the coffee guy. Kind of. But that was in January. How dry and uninterested I’ve been since then.

My 2:43a.m. resolution is to write a song tomorrow (well, today).

And as a side note, if you’re one of the people I’m writing letters to this week, I may just share the lyrics with you and ask for your opinion.

What are your long lost passions and dreams? Why have you abandoned them?

I’m in love!

Oh man…

I just…I seriously love my guitar.  He makes me feel so talented and beautiful and cherished. I really, really love my guitar. He doesn’t remind me of my failures or my imperfections; he just welcomes me and makes me feel like whatever is on my mind is important. Sigh. What a great instrument.

I just really love him.

And I need to spend more time with him.