Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Other passions: Star Wars

I have shared in this blog a lot of my passion for choral music, choirs, and singing. I've shared a little about my love of riding a motorcycle. I've alluded to my small obsession with The West Wing. But I haven't really discussed my passion for Star Wars. 

You may be asking "what does this have to do with the Lincoln Choral Artists?" or "Aren't they performing Faure's Requiem in a couple months? Why isn't he talking about that?" Well I guess I wanted to share my passion for Star Wars because it definitely is tied to my love of music. 

I can truly attribute both my love of music/ choirs and my love of Star Wars to my dad. One of my first memories is sitting on the kitchen floor watching "Empire" on our new VHS player. One of Dad's first VHS rentals was "The Empire Strikes Back." He still loves this episode, but he also a fan of Episode I. We very much disagree on that (damn Jar Jar). 

My dad is also a choir director and church musician at his core. Though he has done many things in his life, these two have always been present. I know some of his joy of Star Wars is the incredible score by John Williams. I remember listening over and over to the "New Hope" soundtrack on vinyl in my room in elementary school. This particular version had the dialogue included. So the first half hour of the Theatrical release of Episode IV is drilled into my psyche. I'm sure I have the entire movie's dialogue memorized, but I know for sure those first moments of Vader's entrance and Princess Leia's ( RIP Carrie) opening lines are immortalized for me. 

With the latest releases of "The Force Awakens" (now in my top 3), and "Rogue One" (top 2, Empire is, of course, 1) I am so thoroughly enjoying the new stories and the new scores. I'm even listening to a podcast (Star Wars Oxygen) that details and analyzes the scores of all the movies. Story telling in the way George Lucas started it, and now how the Lucas Arts story team is continuing it (good move Disney!) is probably some of the best writing happening for the big screen. I haven't gotten too much into the cartoons. But it's interesting to hear a little about them and how they are developing an all new Expanded Universe. 

But anyway, where I'm going with all this is my joy and passion for Star Wars is closely connected to my joy and passion for music, in particular choral music. Though the scores themselves don't have a lot of "choral" writing. The idea of creating a world of Stars Wars is like creating a world of sound in singing. I'm excited for the upcoming releases of The Last Jedi and the yet untitled Han movie, just like I'm excited for LCA to continue to work on Faure, perform with some wonderful Nebraska choirs in May, and plan an incredible season for next year! 

Remember: Do, or do not. There is no try. 
And also: May the force be with you, always!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Practice Makes "Perfect": or for sure, a positive group dynamic!

Today I am sharing a blog post from a choral colleague, Tori Cook, from the website

Tori Cook  January 25, 2017

Dear adult choir member,
I’ve heard that you don’t have time to practice your music outside of rehearsal.
Look, I get it. You have a life outside of chorus (and if you don’t - we should discuss immediately!). Perhaps you’re working a 40+ hour a week job, you have a family to take care, a partner that you need to spend time with, other hobbies (even other choruses!) that are equally as important to you, you’re dealing with the daily struggles of life (AKA #adulting) and you’re just tired. Trust me, SOML!
And you think, hey - I’m not getting paid for this! You signed up for the chorus because you love it.
You love the feeling that you get when a chord locks perfectly and shivers crawl up and down your spine. You enjoy the camaraderie of your fellow choir mates. You are inspired by your director and the other leaders in the chorus every day. And you love performing and making a musical impact on your community.
But here’s the thing: when you signed up for this chorus, it became more than you. You became part of an ensemble, a group, a second family. And as an individual member of this ensemble, you made a commitment to hold up your end of the bargain. And yes, this bargain includes practice outside of rehearsal.
I’m not asking for you to spend hours practicing every week (unless you want to!). But I am asking that you put in some time, any time, every week. Raise your hand if you’ve ever gone multiple weeks without practicing (sheepishly raises hand while typing). That’s what I thought. Can we all agree that this is not the kind of commitment we want to give to our choir? We are doing ourselves a disservice and we all deserve more than that! Even if it’s only putting in five minutes a week working on your toughest measure, any time is better than no time at all. 
So, here is my request: take out your calendar and choose a date and time for a weekly practice session. You don’t need to put an end time, only a start time. That way, you can rehearse for as long as you feel like. But the trick is to actually get a practice session on your schedule, start the session every week, and hold yourself accountable.
The joys of singing don’t come without some work. And we all have to work! You can’t have a chord lock perfectly if someone doesn’t know their pitch. You can’t have the camaraderie of choir if your fellow choir mates are feeling let down. You can’t have leaders who inspire you if they aren’t themselves inspired by the music. And you can’t have an impact on your community if you’re not putting in the time to accurately develop and deliver the message. 
My point: make some time, any time. And then let’s make some beautiful music together!
Your passionate choir director and fellow choir members

 Pictured: The Harborlight Show Chorus (my chorus!) rehearsing at 7:30am before our regional competition. Pajamas are 100% acceptable for dress rehearsal attire.