The Quotable Floyd, part V

Well, my dears, it’s time again for the best part of the choral post-season: Quotes! As I’ve said in the past, I love quoting Floyd. He’s so funny. More than this, however, I find his words sage and witty, pertaining both to music and to life. Now as we near Floyd’s final (full) retirement, I cherish these quips as memories. What a blessing it has been to learn and sing under his direction!

This time around, I’ve listed the quotes under the song title where they were written into my music, and I offer them to you here in concert order. Enjoy!

Resonet in Laudibus
If you sing the way I conduct, you’ll sing a wonderful concert.
 Always keep your accompanist happy.
 Everybody sing everything.

O Magnum Mysterium
 If you wait too long, you’ll sound late; if you’re too quick, you’ll be early.
 Just go ahead and try it. You may actually get it right!
 Where in the heck do you put the pitch?
 There is still some residual pulsation going on.
 I’m just gonna give you a three-four ‘cause I have a three-four to spare.
 Those two notes are friends.
 Ascend, Altos! You may ascend!
 You may flip your R in that way if you like.
 Sopranos, would you sing “la la la la.” No, wait. That’s not it.
 If you were a medieval scholar, you’d be forbidden to write that interval because it would summon the devil.

Ave Maria – Stravinsky
 If you’re gonna be wrong, be wrong loudly.
 Once in awhile I may even cue your section.
 You may generally breathe; don’t specifically breathe.
 This is the hardest little piece I know.
 There’s our friend the G!
Lynne: Watch out for the nunc!

     Floyd: Notice the dynamics?
     Lorna: They’re easy to miss.
     Howard: Mine says ‘piano for rehearsal.’

Ave Maria – de Victoria
 Our tempo meter has gone pfffffft!
 It’s gotta be in tempo. You can’t just dribble off.
 If I looked up to find you, I…I wouldn’t!
 Take a breath on the rest; don’t rest on the breath. Ooooh! That was good! Write that down!
 After awhile, the bar lines don’t matter anymore.
 If there were a sharp in front of that G, it’d be the pitch you’re singing.
 You had a real nice G#. Please don’t do that again.
 Orapronobis fermata-bus.
 Nobis? No breath.

Ave Maria – Biebl
 We’ll follow the music and see what happens. Then again, maybe we won’t.
 Go ahead and sing your fullest forte.

Glory to God in the Highest
 Some of you head too much sloppy for supper.
 The grammar will defeat you.

Jazz Gloria
 We could throw a few more pitches in there. Just for fun.
 There’s where the pitch lives!
 There’s no chord upon which to sit.
 Eat enough to fortify your jazz chops.

     Beth: Were we low enough?
     Floyd: You’re fine. It’s just ugly.

     Nameless Alto: We can’t see you.
     Floyd: Why do you want to see me? You don’t watch anyway.

One, two, three, four…twelve…thirteen…square root of eight…
 There’s some magical musical mysticism going on here.
 I don’t know what I was doing; I was improvising.
 I can’t tell what’s coming out of my mouth sometimes.
 You could, without knowing it, tripletize the sixteenth note.
 Swing: That’s not notated; it’s just felt.
 There’s no rushing in Jazz Land.
 It’s just here and there and back again.
 We’ve got two Jesus Christs, and then Jesus Christ followed by the Holy Spirit—which is very important, theologically.
 Don’t think of it as a measure. Think of it as a series of notes upon which I will pounce.
 No matter what happens—SING.
 Don’t think in rhythm.
 The wrong note at the right time equals music. The right note at the wrong time equals noise.
 Find your seats and put them in your chairs.

Christmas Day
 Make them up. (In reference to the words.)
 I bet I can unlegatoize you.
 I will shoot a cue to you that you can’t miss!
 I’m not in the right key, but who cares?
 You’ve got a rhythm to wait in expectation of.
 You’ll have a rhythmic moment right there. It’ll be short, but you’ll have it.
 The minute the tongue touches the teeth, cut it off.
 At this point we have a surprising harmonic move. It always comes at a page turn.
 I would never look down on good music!
 What you just did—write that in.
 If you’ve got the notes, I’m not gonna stop you.
 Relax. Relax. Blalalalala. Blalalalalala.

Fortify your jazz chops. Hahahaha. I want that on a bumper sticker. Don’t forget to go back and read the quotes one, two, three, and four. :)

Pax Christi, friends!

Sar

Let Go, part I

What are you holding onto?

In my closet, all the way to the right, tucked into the corner, just beyond the Hawaiian blue chiffon dress I wore at my brother’s wedding, a sassy pair of boot cut blue jeans hangs from the same hanger that has held them for the
past fifteen years. They’ve been a favorite all this time, in spite of the fact that I haven’t been able to squeeze into them since the summer I graduated from high school and fled the dreary Copper Country. Somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind, I cling to the hope of what those blue jeans represent.

Every woman knows what I mean. Somehow, it has nothing to do with the jeans themselves; it has everything to do with the way you felt when you wore them. I have one lone photograph of myself wearing these jeans, and when I see it, I still marvel. I look happy, I whisper to my soul. I want to feel the way I look in that photo.

Okay. Let’s be real for a moment. Blue jeans do not have the ability to make one happy, neither can they make one beautiful or engaging or alluring or any other desirable trait. They are an object of denim, stitch, and button. In light of eternity, they mean nothing.

But here in my physical world, they represent something. They represent the young woman I was fifteen years ago: Bright, hopeful, unjaded, confident. So you see, they are–and are not–just a pair of old blue jeans. There in the back of my closet, they whisper to me that I once was this woman…that I should be her still…that I could be her still…

The truth?

I can’t.

Oh, I’ve no doubt that I can somehow find beauty and life and confidence in myself again. I only recognize, as a woman in her thirties is more able to appreciate, that it has taken many choices, many roads for me to become the woman I am today. The girl in those jeans? Yes, she was unjaded; she was incredibly naive. Yes, she was confident; she was incredibly foolish.

Beauty is deeper than a pair of jeans.
An appealing spirit reveals in the eyes, not the hips.
Confidence is knowing who you are, not being comfortable.

So this year, as I approach the New Year, this wretched pair of blue jeans are the first thing on my list.

I’m letting them go.

Pax!
Sar

An invitation to Let Go

Every November, I begin evaluating my silly little existence and asking myself to make resolutions for the coming New Year. How can I change to be happier? Healthier? Wiser? Kinder? It is important to look at life this way, to take stock of where you are, where you’re headed, where you want to be. We are beings of constant change out of constant choice.

Will I get on the treadmill this morning? It seems a simple decision, but each day that choice is chipping away at an idea and revealing what’s really burning in my heart. And what of tomorrow? I am a firm believer in the momentum of choice. If I get on the treadmill today, I will be more inclined to get on the treadmill tomorrow. And the day after? The day after that? Etc? Each day carries with it the conviction of the previous choice, making it ever easier to make the same choice as the day before. So today, whether I get on the treadmill or not, it will be that much easier to make the same decision tomorrow.

But in the midst of such critique of your life, it can be easy (too easy, perhaps) to focus on things that we lack. I lack the self discipline to get on the treadmill each morning. I lack the silence I need to write. I lack the money to travel.

The real question isn’t what I’m lacking; rather, what is unnecessarily taking up my time and energy? And more importantly, why am I allowing these things (situations, relationships, emotions, fears, et cet) to monopolize so much of my existence? Is that really what I’m here for? Is that why God gave me life?

Not all of it is bad, friends. Some of it has simply outlived its usefulness. Maybe…just maybe…I need to let go of some of it in order to welcome whatever God has for me in 2015.

My friends, my family, random strangers: I encourage you to join me on this endeavor. Consider the things that you’ve been carrying in 2014 that have left you dissatisfied or unchanged. Life was never intended to be static. Join me, if you will, in trading your typical, easy-to-forget New Year’s Resolutions for one or two things that simply need to go. Then, together, we will do what is necessary for life and growth.

We will Let Go.

Pax,
Sar

Updates

Has it been forever since I’ve shared my heart with you? It seems like forever. I’m here tonight, friends, without agenda. I just need to write (erm…type); I need to share what’s been happening with my heart and my head and my…self.

Life has been busy, folks. I hate saying that; it’s such drivel. You don’t have any more minutes in a day than I have, and there’s no point in pretending I’m such an excellent manager of the minutes I do have. If you gave me 60 extra minutes each day, I’d still find a way to feel ‘busy.’ Admit it…you would, too.

I suppose it is never really that I’m busy. I’m the type of gal who needs time to process. I need to process my new job, my monthly bills, my leftover yarn stash, my pile of laundry, which route I will take to get to work, how many right hand turns I’ll make if I take Front Street instead of Third…I process. I analyze. I need a game plan. And you can ask my mom and brother, Jeremiah, what happens when they allow me to plan a trip. It was the best unused itinerary ever!

Unfortunately (or fortunately…maybe, somehow, it is a good thing, after all), I tend to need time to work through everything I think and feel and want to say. It can be frustrating at times, and I can’t tell you how many friendships have been on the line in my short 34 years because I needed time and I failed to articulate that need.

That’s kind of where I’ve been: I’ve needed time.

Not just with the blog. Literally, with everything in my life (except knitting), I have needed time this year. And more than ever, I’ve felt like I’ve had too many things to process for the minutes I have alone in the course of a day.

I won’t share it all with you. That wouldn’t be appropriate to the other people involved.

I will tell you that I’ve been struggling with my health this year in a way that I didn’t anticipate. I’ve been a migraine sufferer for twenty years now, and I honestly thought I had a handle on them. This year has brought much change in that department, culminating in the dreaded “worst headache of my life” that sent me to the Emergency Department. Friends, I won’t lie to you–the pain was unbearable. I thought I was going to die. Between you and me (and the world wide web), I was ready. My words to God that evening were brutally honest. When I started reacting to the IV meds they’d given me, I flashed back to that episode of NCIS where the guy was locked down in the sewer and slowly lost his mind and ripped out his own eye. That seemed very logical to me suddenly! I digress. I had a follow up visit today with a Neurologist, and I have to tell you, I’m surprised by the direction we’re headed. I don’t want to share anything at the moment, other than…he ordered some labs and I’ll have to do some imagining. The culprit, he suspects, is something my doctor suspected (and brushed off) about twenty years ago, when I first was diagnosed with migraines. Or…he believes that my severe symptoms were stress related.

Totally unreasonable.

Or…totally not, if you know the kind of year I’ve had. :/ Whatever is going on, I feel hopeful about having a Neurologist on my team. And I am eager to get my life back.

In other news, believe it or not, I’ve been writing a lot of music. I know this shouldn’t surprise any of us at this point, but it still catches me off guard a little bit: I am a songwriter. I’m not the best singer. I’m not the greatest lyricist. I’m certainly only a mediocre guitarist. But I am a songwriter. That’s so cool! Anyway, I’m trying to be brave and share a song or two with those around me. If you’re out there and you want a snippet, send me an email and I’ll link you to my dropbox. I will just warn you upfront: Most of the songs I’m writing are about a boy. Okay? Okay. Don’t laugh. Okay, you can laugh a little. It’s actually a pretty ridiculous story, and someday maybe I’ll tell you all about it. But right now, the closest you’ll get is a song. So. There you go.

Work has been good. I think. I can’t tell you how much I love what I’m doing or the people I work for and with. I’m in a new position now, which is pretty stressful for me. I confess that I’ve been feeling overwhelmed by the constant and unending workload. But I do enjoy the work that I’m doing–and that makes a huge difference. I will say, I’m praying more and more for my bosses. Our office is a busy one, and the simple nature of the office is a stressful one. It takes its toll on the staff. But I will say…I really do see the doctors investing emotionally, physically, tangibly in the staff, and that is very encouraging. I’m still thankful to be there, thankful for the people God has brought into my life through the job. But. I am stressed with it lately.

Family is…sigh. You don’t want to hear about my family, do you? I love them. They love me. Sometimes we act stupid. Still.

Choir is going well! We are preparing for our Christmas concert (can it really be coming up so quickly?) the first weekend of December. If you’re in Marquette, stop by to see us at the Cathedral. It’s going to be super-uber-totes COOL. Next semester, we will very sadly, but with many good memories, finally allow our Fearless Leader to retire and settle down to do the things he WANTS to do with his life. In honor of the occasion, we’ve commissioned a three-movement piece by British composer Paul Ayers. Seriously–if you’re going to be in Marquette, this is a concert NOT to miss. It’s going to rock like 1984, folks. We’re also planning a retirement shindig for Floyd. It’s going to be a lot of fun, and I feel so blessed that I get to be involved at this moment of his life. Floyd is like…a Marquette icon.

I’m still working on the Psalms. Reminder to self: I need to meet with Rob and talk about Psalms.

I guess that’s all I have for now. I just wanted you to know I’m here and I’m still alive. I miss you all. Yes…all of you. Give me a holler and let me know you’re doing alright.

Pax Christi.
Sarah

Words for Sara(h)

Beauty.

Strength.

Honor.

Courage.

Hope.

Relentless.

Love.

 

We grow up surrounded by the safe wisdom of those who know: Never judge a book by its cover; beauty is only skin deep; it’s what’s on the inside that counts. These are havens for us when we are young. They remind us that we are made up of something more than what we look like. At least for me, growing up with two beautiful, thin sisters–it was a haven for me. It was hope. It meant that if I was never thin and pretty, I could still be worth something.

I won’t lie to you. I won’t say that I don’t still struggle with this particular issue. In the last year, especially, though, I’ve been noticing a far more disturbing trend: A tendency to judge one another by what we possess.

And more frightening–by what we don’t possess.

College degree.

Stable career.

401K.

Health insurance.

Dependable vehicle.

Credit card with 0% APR.

Book published.

Marriage.

Children.

 

The “things” you lack do not define you anymore than your physical stature. It doesn’t matter why you lack them. It doesn’t matter whether you are happy or enraged about your lack. The only thing you need to know — the only thing of which I’m here to remind you — is that none of it defines you.

You would never disown me for being overweight. You would never tell me that this is somehow a flaw in my person, ridding me of value, ridding me of the ability to make a difference in the lives of others. You would never diminish my worth upon such a basis. Don’t you ever — EVER — believe or accept the lie that you are diminished because someone “has” something that you “don’t.”

You are an amazing woman, one that I am so blessed and proud to call my sister (even if I do get a little bit touchy about sharing a name with you when you insist upon spelling it incorrectly). You, my dear, can slay any dragon that you face. You wield an amazing sword. You have worked hard to build strength and perfect your skill. And most of all, you are unrelenting in your pursuit of what is good.

Do not ever, Sara…do not ever let anyone’s words destroy your heart. And if you need the reminder, you know where I am. I am lost somewhere in Michigan, cheering for you, believing in the amazing woman, sister, wife, student, fire fighter, daughter, friend you are. There are those in this world…who need you.

Yes, you.

Now stop what you’re doing. Go to the beginning of this blog. Read those first seven words and know: I chose them just for you as a reminder that you lack no good thing.

I love you, woman. Always.

 

Pax Christi,

the other Sara(h)

 

Malaria

semmie:

Number 5, folks: Malaria is preventable and curable. It is heart-breaking to think that anyone–ANYONE–should die such an unnecessary death. Can we get involved? Can we do anything to change the trend?

We can…

Originally posted on justfacetsofus:

The topic for this month is: Malaria.  Here are some facts and stats from the World Health Organization:

1. Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected mosquitoes. 

2. According to the latest estimates, released in December 2013, there were about 207 million cases of malaria in 2012 (with an uncertainty range of 135 million to 287 million) and an estimated 627 000 deaths (with an uncertainty range of 473 000 to 789 000).

3. Approximately half of the world’s population is at risk of malaria.

4. Most deaths occur among children living in Africa where a child dies every minute from malaria.

5. Malaria is preventable and curable

6.  Early diagnosis and treatment of malaria reduces disease and prevents deaths. It also contributes to reducing malaria transmission. Access to diagnostic testing and treatment should be seen not only as a component…

View original 255 more words

Audience

Roberta and I met Friday morning for coffee. It was remarkably good fellowship, which is saying a lot. Roberta is always great company, but this was more. More than just catching up with someone I love. This was heart to heart, the benedictions of life and peace and joy upon one another as fellow members of Christ’s Body. What a wonderful experience.

One of the things we spoke about is my complete lack of desire to sing or make music for an audience. We can speak honestly about this, folks. There was a time when I longed for audience. There was a time I believed my heart was there, on a stage, speaking life and hope to people too close to be strangers. And I don’t know precisely when it changed. I remember even in leading worship at the Tab that I made a subtle transition from wanting to “lead” to wanting to accompany and support a “leader.” When my brother got married six years ago and they asked me to sing a duet at the reception, I was so uncomfortable at the thought–but so comfortable with the reality.

I forget little things. For instance, I really do like the way my voice sounds in a microphone. And I really do enjoy looking out at people and making eye contact. And I love–more than almost anything in the entire world–noodling on the piano as I try to speak the words on my heart.

But I have long desired the solace of having no audience, no stage, and nobody looking at me.

The question is, as a musician, how do you love and pursue music without desiring an audience? This is a question I’ve pondered for years, and I am no nearer an answer than I was when I first posed it.

As Berta and I discussed this the other day, she–in her typical, gentle but challenging manner–suggested that maybe it would be good for me to be exposed to a bit of audience again. I love Roberta’s manner of making me feel totally uncertain and yet entirely certain. Of course audience is good for a musician, even if performance is not the aim.

So there I was, yesterday, sitting on the edge of the stage at the bandshell all alone, my bare, cracked feet swinging off the edge like a little girl, and my guitar in my arms. And I sang softly. There was no one nearby, so I allowed myself to have a little fun and let loose (which, if you know me, needs to happen more often). And so I’m singing one of my old favorites by Rich Mullins–My One Thing–and I’m hamming it out. And…?

This guy comes out of nowhere. With his dog. I figured he’d walk right by and all would be well, so I just kept going. Every night, every day, ya hold on tight or ya drift away, and you’re left to live with the choices ya make. Oh Lord, please give me the strength to watch and work and love and sing and pray…

Aaaaaand he sits down.

Wait…what?

Like, I know it’s an actual stage, and I know there are benches for the audience during concerts, but the fact that no one else is there and I’m sitting on the edge of the stage without any equipment other than a guitar (without even a pick, I might add) should clue you into the fact that this isn’t a concert. But he sat. And his dog sat. And wow–that was awkward.

But what the heck, right? I kept going. And I know that the pure…the pure in heart…and I know that the pure in heart shall see God. Yeah, I know that the pure…the pure in heart…yeah, I know that the pure in heart shall see God… and out of the corner of my eye, I see a young man with a lot of hair walking towards the bandshell. And I’m thinking, he’s headed for the restrooms. And the dude with the dog is just sitting there watching me with a silly grin on his face, but the song is over so instead of stopping and having an awkward moment with the stranger and his dog, I went right into another song–another favorite–Thankful by Caedmon’s Call. Of course, it isn’t nearly as awesome without the trash can beat, but…•shrug•

So I’m singing along, trying to be a little amusing for the guy with the dog, but secretly wishing I weren’t dumb enough to sit on the stage where people might mistake me for entertainment. Cause I am just like Lazarus, and I can hear Your voice. I stand and run my eyes and walk to You…because I have no choice. And I am thankful…

And the young guy with the hair? Nope. He isn’t headed for the restroom. He turns toward the stage, walks right up to the very first bench, and sits down.

Oooookay. If I hadn’t left my cell phone home to charge, I likely would have paused right there to call Roberta and make her come out to witness this odd moment of my existence. But I couldn’t, because I did leave my cell at home.

So I finish the song and pause long enough to say, “I wasn’t expecting an audience.” They both seemed amused by this remark, but neither made a move to leave. And since the dog had laid down on the ground by his walker’s feet, I figured–what can I lose? So I sang them another song–this time (be proud, folks), I sang one of my recents–Daisies, which I shared the lyrics to here on my blog recently.

And as I’m nearing the end…singing my very own song for these total strangers–a family of four walks up behind the benches. Mom and Dad and two little girls. And Dad just held the younger girl in his arms while Mom held the older girl’s hand. And me? I capo-ed the third fret and I sang the song I always sing over children, another one by Mullins–Let Mercy Lead.

And as I watched these people, watching me, I thought–being heard is not such a bad thing. It is that “being heard” that allows us to minister to one another, to speak truths through music that we are often unable to speak conversationally, to connect with people that we may have absolutely nothing in common with other than our humanity.

I stopped after that song. The family left. The man and his dog left. The young man with the hair spoke with me for a moment about guitars. And as I walked alone to my truck, with my guitar slung across my back (as no guitar-respecting young woman should ever do, because there is too great a risk of it falling [and trust me, duct tape does not fix a broken guitar]), I heard myself pray.

“God, what was that?”

But I didn’t really need to ask the question. I knew the answer.

It is just like God, too, isn’t it? We think we understand some aspect of our lives, our hearts. Someone (thank you, Roberta) speaks challenge to our assumed desires, and suddenly, God places the people and the circumstances in our lives to give us the opportunity: We can grow and learn, or we can remain as we have been.

I still have no desire to perform. But if you see me with my guitar, I hope you won’t be afraid to ask for a song, because the truth is–I don’t mind the audience.

Pax Christi.
Sar